After a long week in NYC we moved on to our stops with the most historical significance: Philadelphia and Washington D.C. First up was three nights in the birthplace of our nation. Both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and adopted in Philadelphia, PA. We arrived on a Sunday evening with very little time left in the day. Our host was Matt’s good friend from college, Andrew, who is now a medical student at Temple University. Andrew lives in a three-story town house with two other medical students on the border of a neighborhood called the Gayborhood.
The first night we took it easy, cooked Millennial gruel and took advantage of Wi-Fi. We arose the next morning ready to hit the historic sites. But we didn’t get started till the afternoon, as Phil had a mid-day phone interview for a job he’s been pursuing. Matt, Will, and I check out the Philly Cheesesteak scene, opting not to go to one of the most famous places. After walking down South Street we decided on Jim’s, which turned out to be delicious! After lunch we scoped out the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall area, but decided to come back the next day bright and early. Instead, we headed over to the Constitution Center and spent the whole afternoon in the air-conditioned haven of patriotism. We explored every exhibit and had a healthy dose of competition when we face off in Presidential Trivia and opted for the Know-It-All difficulty level. Although Phil and myself beat Matt and Will, it was a humbling experience all around because it was a lot of guessing.
That night we basically spent the whole time looking for a pool table to no avail. After a beer or two we just went home. The next morning we got an early start for what would be a long day. First, we walked over to the historical district where the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall is located. The Liberty Bell first was a series of panel exhibits to read and then the bell on display at the end of a one-story hallway. There wasn’t much to it. Next we got our tickets for an Independence Hall tour. Our guide showed us through the room in Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were created and adopted. It is amazing to know that these documents still guide our country today, 238 years later. Our whole country started by a great idea, written down on a piece of paper.
At this point, it was time for some interviews! But first we needed lunch. So we headed to the famed Philadelphia Public Market. This was definitely the best public market of the trip, with Cleveland probably being a close second. Based on several recommendations from previous travelers and Matt’s roommate, we ate at this stand called DiNic’s where we got pork sandwiches. They were huge and delicious, living up to the hype. There were so many places to get treats at the public square that is was very hard to resist. We ultimately booked it out of there after taking a thorough exploratory lap. Next stop was Rittenhouse Square to get those interviews.
Rittenhouse was a nicely shaded and bustling town square with lots of Millennials. Matt and I talked to a young surgeon who was applying for a residency, along with some Philly natives. In an hour or so, we hit our usual quota of two interviews per group. Next up was the Mütter Museum. Mütter is a medical museum that contains a collection of medical oddities, anatomical and pathological specimens, wax models, and antique medical equipment. The museum is part of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. After being sufficiently weirded out by some very strange displays we walked over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and climbed the Rocky steps. At this point, we were exhausted and started to make the two-mile walk back to the Gayborhood were we relaxed and took a nap. After feeling well rested, it was time for dinner and to hit the town a bit.
Although this should seem obvious, we affirmed a basic truism with dinner that night: don’t get Mexican food unless you’re in California. While the Mexican food we had was edible, it also wasn’t very Mexican or great at all really, and we were particularly peeved because it met our Yelp criteria of one dollar sign and at least four stars. Anyway, the moral is don’t order Mexican food in Philadelphia. However, we redeemed ourselves by finding a bar in Philly that actually had Pliny the Elder on tap, which is something I have never seen, but for the Russian River Brewery itself in Santa Rosa. It was a serious treat to have the apex of California beer on tap all the way on the east coast. Moreover, we were able to find a nice, empty pool table and a nearby bar where the ongoing trip competition ensued. Phil and I were feeling real good about our skills since we got in an impressive one-on-one sesh one night in NYC. However, our hubris was our downfall (when is it not?), and Team Matt + Will beat us, adding a notch to their win column. (But Phil and I are up overall!)
The next morning, Phil, Will, and I went on a pretty decent run. We drove to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and parked nearby, and then got out to run along Boathouse Row. We went about one and half miles in until we turned around and ran all the way back to the Museum where we ended the run on the same steps climbed by Sylvester Stallone in Rocky. This was much more epic than the afternoon before.
We returned from our run and began the process of packing up, eating breakfast, and getting on the road. However, we did get on the road by noon which gave us plenty of time for our next stop: Washington D.C.