I got a new phone. It’s a Lumia 920. It has a very good camera. Being rather bored in Seattle, where it is cold and wintery and rainy I decided to plop over to the other side of the continent to meet a friend who studies at the University of Pennsylvania. It was one of the better decisions I’ve made in the recent past. The rest of this post talks about food, aeroplanes, movies, art, history and walking.
I left Seattle on a rather rainy Friday morning, at an hour that I consider ungodly. After a ride in a taxi with a driver who had spent 10 years in Japan and thought very highly of Indian cinema, after a suprisingly painless experience at security that only involved taking off my shoes, belt, jacket, laptop I was on board an Alaskan airlines flight and I took the photo above. I was rather pleased with it, the camera managed to do exactly what I had asked of it – photograph the drops of water on the window.
It was bright for all of the duration of the flight. I was very pleased and looking forward to spending a weekend in sunshine. Also, I’m just showing off the camera. The plane then dipped below the clouds and Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, it was 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Overcast. Drizzling. Philadelphia airport does nothing to distinguish itself. There is a severe lack of space as in all airports – it is designed for utility. There is nothing wrong with it, there is just not much that makes you feel warm and cheery after a long flight. I used to think all airports are like this until I disembarked at San Francisco earlier in November this year. SF airport is spacious and bright and welcoming. There is nice music in the restrooms, like a sultry seductress’ serenade. I took a train to their University District, or University City – everything in Philly is a city. The train was old and had conductors which was surprising to see. The airport was actually the low point of the trip – it all got better so fast.
U Penn, is ivy-league, home to a lot of rich kids – which is why food trucks that deliver hot cookies to your hostel make sense
We had dinner at Zahav, this fancy middle-eastern place. I haven’t eaten in many fancy places and actually had no conception of what the food here would be like. The walk to Zahav was three miles through the University, Downtown Philly, the rich affluent housing area of Philly, the old Jewish quarter of Philly and then Zahav. The place is beautifully decorated – there are diwans and cylindrical pillows and very Turkish looking curtains. There was a chandelier, well, more of a lamp, made out of some blue metal, hanging from the ceiling, in the center of the room. The table was copper or bronze, dimpled like a golf ball. Our waitress was knowledgeable but snobby – perhaps it was my hair but she had made this assumption that we were uneducated normal people with run-of-the-mill palettes.
The food was an experience. There were six kinds of salads, the picture above. The most interesting was the one made of eggplant – a salad of eggplant which was actually surprisingly good. The pita bread was fresh, hot off the oven and the humus was divine. The second best part of the meal were these spheres of lamb (I desist from using the term lamb-balls because of certain uncultured readers of this blog). They were the perfect blend of spice and meat. I will not use the “dissolve in the mouth” cliché. They did not. Infact, they just waited for the appropriate amount of time on the tongue, just long enough to understand the flavour and the spice and then melted. Brilliant.
The walk back was interesting until it was cut short by a minor downpour which caused us to get into a Philadelphia taxicab. Taxicabs in Philadelphia have wide rear seats which can accomdate four people of my build and a glass partition separating the driver from the passenger.
liberty bell. yes I did see it. no I do not know much about it’s history
the streets of philadelphia
The next day was overcast but not raining and was spent walking around. A must see place is the Reading Terminal Market – with its eateries and food shops. There is a creperie there – some of the best crepes I’ve eaten. Oh, and while walking around in Philly, do not be surprised to see black gentlemen at intersections proclaim loudly into loudspeakers, “Jesus is coming”, “The end is near” and other chantings of an apocalyptic-return-of-the-big-guy nature.
Philadelphia is old. Full of nice buildings
and ridiculous cars
and streets that are forlorn and lonely in the winter
Our target was Penn’s landing – the place where William Penn landed and founded Pennsylvania. It is by no means a spectacular, stunning waterfront. Especially on a gray day – it just looks gloomy – I dislike water bodies that do nothing to cheer you up. The Philadelphians do not care for it either, the big neon signboard proclaiming Penn’s landing had only a few of the letters lit up.
What appears to be a lounging area of the general population. Devoid of people on that day. That river is the Delaware. There is another river in Philadelphia called the Skychupnawanapoppitipompom.
There is a military ship in the background on the river.
leaving Penn’s landing we meandered through the old quarters of Philadelphia, full of red-brick houses and more forlorn streets.
there was extremely good coffee over here – must try place
there was also this utterly lame museum of art made out of trash. ditch it.
one of the main streets, the city hall is shrouded in fog.
and there are a lot of interesting sculptures there
Most of the last day was spent at the Philadelphia Art Museum and eating. I will not taunt you people with details of the food – suffice to say it was homemade and divine. The art museum is an old building (I like old buildings) and has a few nice paintings (of bridges and snow and mountains and water). It is not a particularly impresive museum but go here if you’ve got nothing to do. The walk back from the Museum, along the waterfront is nice!
the main staircase
the façade of the museum – columns – I like
I do not understand modern art.
and it’s a very nice walk back!
Overall, Philadelphia is fun. If only for a weekend. The food is amazing. It’s great to just walk around. U Penn is very likable. I approve!