Sitting in Campos Deli in Old Town, eating a traditional Philly cheese steak, is a hard task for an ex vegan. Though the curdled milk and dead cow goodness was yummy, I positively nearly choked as Color Me Badd’s ‘I Wanna Sex You Up‘ blared over the radio. This is why I love Philly – it has a way of making me like things I should hate through sentimental and ironic moments. A cute Pennsylvanian sat down next to me – I didn’t have to ask where he was from – he was wearing the “I’m a jock but I pretend I don’t care” rural PA uniform of white polyester basketball shorts, a slightly off beat or ironic shirt, sneakers and a college hat with some type of initial. In fact, he is covered in initials to the point it would be easy to teach an infant the alphabet based solely on his outfit. (From what I gather in America, there are 3 types of jocks – the dick, the douche, and the panty pleasing “good guy” jock who eventually falls into the first two categories depending on which girl he pissed off.)
Bad early 90’s music and cute jocks aside, I was off to tour Philly once more. It was my last day before I leave for my next stop – Pittsburgh, on a mini vacation to rediscover the state that will be my home next year as I study at a University on a scholarship. I wandered the secret back alleys of old town, read a book in a park behind an old church, saw the iconic Liberty Bell, sat in the pews once used by George Washington at Christ Church, threw a penny on Ben Franklin’s grave, hang out on South Street and tried to mesh with the hipsters, visited the Bruce Springsteen exhibit (again), the Eastern State Penitentiary, fell in love with Love Park, wondered through China Town, discovered Banana frozen yogurt with choc chips and coconut, and spent a good hour in the iconic store, The Book Trader. The city is one of the easiest cities to get around in – the Phlash trolley runs every 15 minutes for $2, the buses are $2, the train is $2 and they all run frequently. It’s not even necessary to do a ‘hop on hop tour’ in this city – the transport system is good enough it makes them and the $30 price tag useless.
Philadelphia is one of those cities many people can’t quite decide if they hate or love. A common complaint I hear around Philadelphia as I casually eavesdrop around town is that “theres a lot of stuff here to do but it would be good if someone could explain it.” and “I hate just standing there looking at bell and reading a plaque.” Philadelphia is not really set up for independent budget travellers and yet the city offers independent sites that, more often than not, lack a good tour to explain the historical significance. There is only one hostel downtown and all other hotels run for almost $170-ish a night. And although Philly is built on history and was once the capital of the USA, it seems to be largely forgotten on must see destination lists. It is an essential stopping point for lovers of history, the geeks who love a great book, food and museum and the intellectual hipster. Then again, category two and three are essentially the same, except geeks don’t try hard like hipsters. If you don’t fall into those three categories, maybe that explains why you don’t like Philly. But seriously, who doesn’t like history?
Do you love Philly, like me?