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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs tagged Philadelphia

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Philadelphia - Not that sunny, 2017

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 20/12/2017 07:31:17

Our final day in Florida was interspersed with my worrying about the weather and Pao getting annoyed because I was vocalising my worry about the weather too frequently. While for the majority of our time in Florida we enjoyed lovely weather, I was getting increasingly concerned by reports of an impending stormageddon in the North East. We had tickets to a Penguins game in Philly on the same night we were going to arrive, and all flights into Philadelphia were cancelled on the day before we were scheduled to fly. Our plans to that point had been satisfyingly successful (you know, other than the treatment Taylor received in LAX) but I couldn't help but stress at the situation I had absolutely no control over. We woke extra early on our final day in Florida and drove straight to the airport to drop off the car and make sure we could get onto a plan towards Pennsylvania. Sure enough, all flights were running as planned, and the airport didn't seem to be packed full with people that couldn't make it home the day before. The silver lining in the stormageddon sky was that we had breakfast at the airport and chose to try Chick-fil-A for the first time. Apart from the quizzical look we received from our order taker when we pronounced their brand as it was spelt (chick-fill-a) instead of the way that now clearly makes more sense (chick-filet, like the steak), the experience was fantastic. The chicken was incredibly delicious and we were only working with the limited airport store menu.

The majority of our domestic flights were booked with SouthWest and in general I love their offering (not too expensive, free checking of 2 bags and their flights seemed to always be on schedule) but there was one aspect that I was not on-board with at all. No assigned seating and limited cabin space for carry-on bags leads to an unenjoyable experience during boarding. I'm sure some advanced mathematical models support this seemingly bizarre policy, but in practice all it seems to solve is how to put me in a terrible mood. As Pao and I always seemed to be one of the last "groups" that were allowed to stand in the line for the plan, most of the seats were taken and we would need to settle for being only a few rows apart from each other. This time all of the aisle and window seats were snapped up, so I picked a random row and sat between two elderly passengers. Once they started chatting with each other while we were waiting for takeoff, I realised they were a couple and I offered to switch with one of them so they could sit together (I assume they left that empty seat in-between them in the hopes others would walk past their row and give them three seats together). Inexplicably they preferred to stick with me sitting between them, so instead they just carried on conversation across my lap for the flight. I was getting sick of the arrangement until the lady decided to talk to me about her strong political opinions - and I started wishing that they would speak to each other again instead.

Fancy A Swim
Pro: within walking distance to Philadelphia's sporting stadiums. Con: swimming pool probably closed to guests

There was snow everywhere, with more still falling from the sky, as our Uber driver took us to our hotel. With such bleak weather a lazy afternoon in our hotel would have been a perfectly reasonable plan - but my passion had been ignited in a way that is only possible when a regional sandwich is on offer. I had heard stories of how delicious a Philly cheesesteak would be, but it was a random room service meal when Pao and I were in Cairo that indoctrinated me into the cult of the enlightened. I was very excited to have the chance to try the original, so we put on most of our clothes and started walking towards the "cheesesteak district". Even though the weather had not improved Pao and I had a great time bounding between large mounds of snow as we inched our way towards our destination, something that would surely get old if we actually lived somewhere that snowed with any frequency.

Go North
I've only noticed this now, but apparently Pat's Steaks is not part of the "cheesesteak corner"?? I'm going to have to return to investigate

We finally arrived at the first of the two purveyors of cheesed meat that the internet told me I had to evaluate - Pat's King of Steaks, apparently founded by Pat and Harry Olivieri in the 1930, the original inventors of cheesesteak. Although cheesesteaks were originally made with provolone cheese, the last 50 years has seen the processed cheese spread Cheese Whiz become the typical cheese of choice. For our first evaluation we tried to order a stock standard, and went with Cheese Whiz with onions and a side of regular fries. Unsurprisingly, it was incredible and we devoured our halves of this treat in very short order. My loving partner has a circulation issue that prevents her from getting too cold without severe consequences (mainly affecting her mood...) and although we were sitting out in the freezing snow to eat our cheesesteak, Paola still looks back in fondness of this amazing sandwich.

Crowning Glory
The crown may seem unjustified...

Belly Pat
... until you try one of Pat's steaks

Directly across the road from Pat's was Geno's Steaks which, judging by the numerous 8 x 10s, was a favourite of all manner of celebrities (that I didn't recognise). This time we tried the original provolone cheese on the steak, and went for cheese fries for our side. The steak was great, and the cheese fries thoroughly impressed me, but Pat is truly the King of Steaks. This also lined up with the internet's general opinion that the steak is better at Pat's and Geno's has the better sides. Luckily they are so close together, as I know what I'd be doing at least once a week if only I lived in Philadelphia!

Different Geno
Geno's seems like a slick operation...

Too Flashy
... but I don't think cheesesteaks is a time to be slick

After our late lunch we walked towards a highly-recommended gelato store to get some dessert. I can assure you that it is never too cold for gelato (or any iced cream for that matter), but even I will admit it was hard bit of a hard slog walking through the active snowfall. Pao had clearly reached the limit of her patience with the weather, so we stopped in to an Italian restaurant to get a coffee. The older Italian lady was actually quite nice and we had a lovely chat for an hour or so while warming up our extremities. I'm not sure why residents of Philadelphia get such a bad reputation, as the few we interacted with seemed like fine people.

Until we arrived at the hockey game. Our hotel was a very short walk away from the Flyers home arena and we had tickets to see the Penguins play an all-important cross-state rivalry game. We had already watched the mighty Pens defeat the Flyers in the outdoor game a few weeks prior, so this was a perfect chance to watch a similarly enjoyable triumph in Philadelphia. It was certainly a different atmosphere from the drop of the puck, even before the fans shouted any kind of adulation towards their team they started a hearty "Crosby Sucks" chant. I found this quite odd - firstly, it is quite objectively clear that Crosby doesn't suck. He has made this point clear again and again. Secondly, what does it say about a fan-base who's emotions gravitate towards hatred before appreciation for their own team? It wasn't hard to see why Crosby doesn't like them.

If you say so

Sure enough - the Flyer beat us 4-0, and the score doesn't even tell the story of how poorly we played. It was a wholly unenjoyable experience, at least when the blackhawks were dominating us their fans were nice about it. We walked back home, watched an episode of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia in Philadelphia to cheer up and then went to bed.

Two Men And Bird
It wasn't this episode, but I feel everyone should watch and enjoy this clip

The next day our fatigue was threatening to catch up with us, but we powered on and took a bus to the center of town for a walk around the sights. Getting there was half the battle, but we decided to surrender the second half, as we didn't really do much more than walk around. We didn't even enter the building that housed the Liberty Bell, instead being satisfied by the view that a small grotty window afforded us. We did make it to (and ran up) the Rocky Steps, but the angrily-aggressive homeless people nearby put a dampener on it a bit. The highlight of the day for me was seeing the "Market Place" sign from the always awesome intro sequence for Always Sunny, followed closely by the third Philly Cheesesteak we had for lunch (certainly not as good as Pat's or Geno's - but still delicious).

Up Close
Those kids in there - they were looking at the Liberty Bell, and Bernie Sanders in the reflection - he was probably wondering why we were taking a photo of a window

Me running up the Rocky Steps...

... is surprisingly no more interesting than me walking up regular steps

Market Street
At least this Market Street sign is super interesting!

Even though there wasn't too much that captured our attention in Philadelphia - I'd certainly go back in a heartbeat if only to have some of those terrific sandwiches!

This is the 10th in the Joel Goes To Camp series
Game 1 - Pittsburgh Arrival - Border Security Magic, 2017Game 2 - Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 1 (Registration and Penguins Stadium Series)Game 3 - Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 2 (Contract Signing, Training and Game)Game 4 - Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 3 (Outdoor Game, Injury, Dinner and Drinks)Game 5 - Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 4 and 5 (Final Games)Game 6 - Chicago - Blackhawks, Bulls and a bean, 2017Game 7 - Pittsburgh Return - Fleury, Fleury, Fleury!, 2017Game 8 - New York - Third time's a charmed lamp, 2017Game 9 - Miami, Naples and Tampa - Beaches, Babe and a Baby Sloth, 2017Game 10 - Philadelphia - Not that sunny, 2017Game 11 - Pittsburgh - For some hockey (why not?), 2017

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