Tuesday, November 23

In Westville Kenobia

I mean West Philadelphia.  And South, central and North.  But apparently not East for some reason.  Slowhands, Balls and I boarded the Megabus on Wednesday night and ended up in Philly on Thursday morning a little tired and a little stiff from bus sleeping.  This trip was made possible by Couchsurfing, a handy way to travel that is not only easy on the budget but gets you the inside view of the city.  But more information on that in another post to come.  There is so much to cover so let's break it down:

Market Street, City Centre

The Mutter Museum (should have an umlaut over the 'u')
Thursday:  Arrive.  Learn the transit system (which, by the way, is a bit of a nightmare but you get used to it).  Show up at couchsurf-host 1 and leave stuff behind.  Thank goodness!  Then we headed downtown to explore and let the other ladies register for the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) conference, the real reason for this trip.  I was just in for the hang.  We learned that Philadelphia is the home of the insanely cheap footwear.  A few people bought boots.  Many of us tried on a plethora.  Eventually I got my way, though, and we headed to the Mutter Museum to check out the cool human specimens.  The wall of skulls was especially fascinating as each was kept as an examplar of a specific cranial abnormality.  It was fun to try to identify it without first reading the associated card.  One even had eroded alveolar processes (what happens when one has no teeth for an extended period of time).  I also learned that syphillis doesn't just make ya crazy but it can eat holes in your face and skull:  protect yourself!  Balls then introduced us to Trader Joe's and it really is as fun as people say.  So fun, in fact, that we ate peanut butter puffin cereal for a few days.  I think I'm having Puffin withdrawal.  Thursday night we hung out with Couchsurfers (CS1A & CS1B) and a friend of theirs attempting the didgeridoo and introducing our new friends to Dutch Blitz (it was a hit!).  A bit of irony introducing Pennsylvanians to a Pennsylvania Dutch game.

Creepy prison

"Famous" Temple bell tower
Friday:  Slowhands bailed early for her conference so I decided to take a run around the neighbourhood.  Without even realizing it I ran up the steps behind the Art Museum (ie. the Rocky steps).  Anyone who saw me must have been thinking "crazy tourist, the steps are on the other side".  The rest of the morning was spent wandering around the old Eastern State Penitentiary with my camera.  Definitely a dark and freezing cold stone prison built to specialize in isolation of criminals from each other.  Without a tripod most of the photos weren't very useable but I did discover a colour palate I like.  Prison Promenade: jade green, rusty orangeish-red and slate gray.  Perhaps I'll decorate a bathroom in those colours.  The rest of the day was spent on Temple Campus in the geology department, moving our stuff from North Philly (CS1) to West Philly (CS2) and going to a local open mic in someone's house where people displayed such talents as performing their own hiphop, reading children's stories, reading children's stories as Christopher Walken would, and playing various instruments.

Saturday:  Slowhands took it easy on the conference this time and we wandered up to UPenn campus in search of breakfast.  Long story short Slowhands had pie and tea on the trolley and I relaxed in McDonald's to mooch their free wifi.  This greasy breakfast was followed by a personally guided walking tour of UPenn and a visit to the archeology museum on the campus where I learned about various cultures including the Apache and Navajo.  It was $6 well spent.  A 40 minute walk later I met my partner in traveling crime and we proceeded to try on even more pairs of boots and dresses we couldn't afford in Macy's while Joshua Golden, apparently a tween-dream, performed on the main level.  The evening brought us to South Philly again in search of the Magic Gardens.  Along the way we found a restaurant with a very random vegan menu which I am convinced was open not to provide nutritious and tasty meals (it really wasn't) but to surreptitiously promote Falun Gong based on the propaganda on the giant flatscreen television.  The Magic Gardens was well worth the walk and can't really be described other than a wonderland build of pottery and found objects.  It really requires photos*.

Sunday:  A full day of tasty breakfast, Elfreth Alley (the oldest continuously inhabited city block with houses built as early as 1728), cheesy souvenir shops, The Franklin Institute and Philly Cheese Steaks (yes, capitals are necessary).  The Franklin is a set up similar to the Ontario Science Centre.  It dumbs down science for kids and most exhibits are broken.  But it was still a good time (a Canary heart beats about 800 times a minute!  A cat heart provides one of the best dance beats**).  The major appeal of the centre was the promise of a planetarium:  gazing into stars, identification of constellations, images from the hubble all projected on a dome above your head, right?  Not exactly.  A tale of the Mayan people and their connection to start turtles.  I felt bad for falling asleep in the 'film' until I looked over and both of my companions appeared to be enjoying some REM as well.  If you go to Philly you should try a cheese steak and then you should immediately check yourself into a hospital for bypass surgery.  I ate just over half so props to me!  Props to Slowhands for (almost) chugging through and ignoring those two (tiny) onions on her sandwich. 

*I'll actually add some later but my patience is being tried by Blogger; it is not letting me upload any more photos for no particularly good reason.
**This is a subjective claim, not objectively posited by the Franklin.


Haidee said...

Loves it. I have to make a correction though: We're UPenn, not Penn State (bleh!). Gotta defend my school!

Katie V. said...

Haidee! Fixed, yikes! That was quite the oversight. UPenn it is! But I saw it, including that odd red statue.