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“Fluffya”

That is the way many native Philadelphians pronounce their city’s name. Add that to “Warshintun” and “Ballmer” and you’ve completed the trifecta of metropolises whose names we Mid-Atlantic-ers love to massacre.

Inexplicable diction aside, Philly seemed like a cool place, and Drea and I decided on whim to go there this weekend to celebrate my birthday. We drove up Friday night, and while an epic traffic jam in Baltimore added an hour to our trip, I was able to appreciate a small glory — the “stick-it-to-the-man” thrill of bypassing the Delaware Turnpike toll plaza. (Here’s how to do it.) Take that, Delaware!

I had never been to Philadelphia, and quickly realized that I’d been missing out. The I-95 approach affords some beautiful skyline views, with the Ben Franklin Bridge’s enormous blue span towering just behind it. (Architecture nerd that I am, I do enjoy a good suspension bridge.) We stayed at the charming Conwell Inn, a 19th-century row of townhouses converted into a boutique hotel on Temple University’s campus. We polished off our hotel breakfast on Saturday morning and caught the subway downtown.

(A quick word about subways. It seems that every time I use a different city’s subway, I appreciate our Metro in DC all the more. After we rode Boston’s “T” last year, I appreciated the fact that the Metro goes faster than 15 mph and doesn’t mysteriously stop and shut itself off between stations. After now having used the Philadelphia subway, I can now add another entry to my list of praises for the Metro: it doesn’t smell like urine.)

In between the Philly must-see’s (the fascinating Independence Hall, the surprisingly small Liberty Bell, etc.) we visited a house where Edgar Allan Poe lived, strolled through Franklin Square (man, I love a good city park), grabbed a gloriously chaotic lunch at Reading Terminal Market, and toured the creepy castle-like Eastern State Penitentiary.

The one low point of the day for me was being packed like sardines on the downtown shuttle — directly adjacent to a very loud, large, and foul-smelling woman who evidently didn’t realize that her robust posterior was colliding with everything and everyone in its vicinity, myself included, whenever she moved. Yuck.

Some would say we missed an essential Philadelphia experience by not getting Philly cheesesteaks, but we didn’t feel bad passing them up after learning that they make them with Cheez Whiz.

I pieced together some video from our trip. Enjoy!

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Filed under: Travel

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