This weekend I made my second-ever trip to Philly to visit one of my best – and first! – college buddies.* Cecily moved to Philly about six months ago and I thought it was high time that I took the two-hour bus trip from NYC to hang out for a weekend.
I departed on Saturday morning, which was intensely misty. I had to catch the MegaBus on 34th between 11th and 12th Avenues. Getting there was a real treat, especially because it had started lightly raining rather than misting by the time I got out of the subway at 8th Ave. and I couldn’t get my umbrella out because I had stuffed it in a purse which was in my backpack. Once I got to our departure spot, I had to stand in the rain for another 30ish minutes. I did get my umbrella out while I was there, even though I was super worried about putting my backpack on the ground because it is yellow on the bottom and I thought it might get stained. (It didn’t.)
I thought I was going to get away with sitting alone on the bus, but of course someone got on exactly 4 minutes after we were supposed to leave and asked if I minded if they sat next to me. Of course I minded. I hate being close enough to strangers that touching them is a possibility. (Please note: I am this close to strangers at least twice a day on the subway.) I had been looking forward to stretching out and watching a few episodes of my new favorite show, Call the Midwife. Alas, the internet on the bus didn’t work, so I ended up staring out the window and listening to Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark like 40 times and getting kind of emotional about it.
Cecily picked me up at the bus when I arrived, which was so nice since I hate having to navigate an unfamiliar place by myself. Our only plan that day was to check out the Prohibition exhibit at the National Constitution Center, so we drove over to Old City. Before the museum, we went to Wedge + Fig, a tiny restaurant/cheese shop for lunch. There ended up being a wait so we did a little (window) shopping on N. 3rd St.
First, we went to Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. I’m not sure how to describe Art in the Age except to say that it seemed to cater specifically to Wes Anderson (and certain characters from his films). Or like, a really hip and rich urban lepidopterist. They had a pretty varied and interesting shop, as well an art exhibit that tied into the Prohibition exhibit we’d see later in the day. Here are some examples of what you can find in the store: Warby Parker glasses, a wide array of natty but functional menswear, pricey beard oil, several different kinds of rose-flavored simple syrup, a $100 weatherproof notebook set.
Then we went to Vagabond, which was as good a ladies’ boutique as any I’ve seen. There were a lot of covetable items there and I’m still regretting not getting the jean jacket I liked from the vintage part of the store. Ah, well. My hunt for a good jean jacket shall continue. Our time in the store was also the beginning of our hunt for a nude dress for Cecily’s upcoming role as a bridesmaid. She did spot some pretty great pants that might work but – as one might imagine – committing to purchasing and wearing something flesh toned is difficult, so we ended up leaving them behind.
We made our way back to Wedge + Fig for lunch. I ordered the weirdest thing I saw on the menu, which is something I do kind of often, especially if I’m unfamiliar with one of the components. In this case, I was unfamiliar with the “pork roll” on the Jawn sandwich. (The sandwich was pork roll, butter fried turkey, cheddar, a mustardy aioli and red onion.) It turned out that pork roll was pretty similar to bologna or Canadian bacon so…I wasn’t disappointed. The sandwich was delicious. We also split mac and cheese, which was a decent rosemary-ish affair. Cecily got the tuna melt. And even though our waiter raved about the tuna melt, it was kind of underwhelming! We heard him recommend it to another lady, but didn’t warn her.
After lunch, we checked out ‘American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition’ at the Constitution Center. The exhibit was curated by Daniel Okrent, who wrote Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, which has been sitting unread on my bookshelf for almost a year now. (I actually bought it after I took it out from the library and didn’t read it for over a month and had to pay a late fee on it.) Anyway, I thought it was pretty entertaining! I’m not one for super interactive historical exhibits – I much prefer just looking at objects and reading – so I wasn’t as into all of the screens and games and picture-taking opportunities, but I understand that most people like activities. However, I did really like the dance floor that had guides for four different Charleston steps. (Even though it reminded me very much of the ballroom dancing classes I took as a little girl.)
We took some time and walked through the main part of the Constitution Center. It was simply overwhelming and the only thing I learned while I was there was that I would have voted for JFK if he had run against Reagan (they had these voting machines where you picked which side you agreed with on different issues) and that made me feel pretty OK.
We headed back to West Philly where Cecily lives and took a little rest at her house, which is amazingly old and Victorian. After that we headed out into the mist/rain again and took a walk around the neighborhood. We ended up stopping at Green Line Cafe for hot chocolate and then made our way over to the Second Mile Thrift Store to browse their large selection of second-hand clothing and knick-knacks. (The knick-knacks were especially great.)
After a stop at a friend’s house, we went to Dock St. Brewing Co., where we were meeting my friend Eric for dinner. Since beer and pizza are two of my favorite things, I liked this place a lot. (Right now, I’m wishing I could find a clip from Miss Congeniality where that girl freaks out about having pizza and beer.) I tried the Rye IPA, the Pre-Prohibition Pale Ale and the Teuton Porter. All of them were pretty great! As for pizza, we got the Barbecue Chicken and Mellow Yellow pies. Four of us ended up splitting two larges, which was way too much. The Mellow Yellow was probably my favorite of the two because they used mustard instead of tomato sauce and I can’t think of any food combination I like better than mustard and cheese. We ended the day back at Cecily’s house, with a delicious cocktail courtesy of her roommate.
The next morning, we got up and walked over to Gold Standard Cafe for brunch. Luckily, it was beautiful and decently warm out. We split some croissant French toast with mascarpone cheese and strawberry sauce and an order of vegetarian eggs Benedict with tomato, spinach and garlic. Both dishes were delightful! (I wish I had taken a picture because both were also really pretty.)
After that we grabbed my stuff and drove over to Center City so that we could walk around and also hit up Paper Source. I’m now very much in the mood for crafting again, so I think I’ll be heading to their location in Brooklyn soon to pick up some supplies. We then stopped at H&M to continue the hunt for a nude bridesmaid outfit but again came up short. We grabbed lattes at La Colombe and then it was time for me to get on the bus.
All in all, it was a pretty great 27.5 hours! Thank you, Cecily, for being a wonderful person to visit! Also, I’m really happy I didn’t have to stand on line to see the Liberty Bell again because I did that the first time I went to Philly two years ago.
*I just found a picture of me and Cecily that ran in the Daily Northwestern during our first week of college. I didn’t post it here because I look like a mom trying to dress like a college student.