Trip On Saturday April 13th, 2013
for 1 day
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Next day we checked out of the hotel and headed into the city centre for breakfast. Simone wanted to get a present for Lexi's birthday from Macy's (again) and I wanted to check out the Reading Terminal Markets. After parking the car, we headed into the market for breakfast. What a cool place!! If I lived in Philadelphia I would be in here every morning for breakfast. Hundreds of little market stalls selling all types of food. We had excellent crepes for breakfast and then looked around the stalls. Simone and Lexi found a candy stall (of course) and Fe and I found a cool Beef Jerky stall (I got the sweet and sour, Fe got the honey / black bean). Once fed we head across to Macy's, where Lexi decided she wanted a new handbag. She is now the only 7 year old I know that has a NY brand handbag (Coach I believe).
We then headed out of Philadelphia to Lancaster to see where the Armish live. We hit Lancaster just after lunch and headed into the Central Market for something to eat. Again, the central market was pretty cool being an old market hall converted into around 50 stalls. Fe and Lexi spotted a mounted police horse and of course went across to pat it. It was okay as the officer was very friendly and gave us good directions to go and see some of the Armish country.
We headed back out of Lancaster (back toward Philadelphia) to a place called Bird in the Hand where there was an Armish Experience and hopefully buggy rides. Unfortunately, they had already been booked by a large bus group and it was running late. A bit disappointed we headed down the road to another village we tried again at Intercourse (bit of an unfortunate name), but again these buggy rides were fully booked. So we consoled ourselves with some icecream and headed off to Gettysburg. We actually saw plenty of Armish on the roads with their horses and carts - so not a total loss.
The drive to Gettysburg was actually really nice and went through lots of farmland and small American towns...gave a really good feel for life in this part of the country. We arrived safely in Gettysburg and booked into the hotel. The hotel was right in the centre of town and was an old historic building. Simone was very impressed with the old style fireplaces in the room. At that point decided to go for a quick evening walk and get some dinner. Settled on a Mexican restaurant. One of the things we have missed since leaving San Francisco all those years ago is great Mexican food (sorry Perth your Mexican bites the big one). Again this little Mexican place was no exception and we left feeling very happy and full.
To get a better look at the city, we started the day with the hop-on hop-off tour. The top deck bus tour took about 1.5 hours and pretty much covered most of the city attractions, which gave us a pretty good idea where to go next. We had intended to get off at the Art Museum of Philadelphia (the Famous Rocky steps), but it was closed on a Monday - so we headed to the Franklin Institute instead. This museum is dedicated to science and of course, Felicity (and I) loved it. Plenty of interactive attractions (pretty much a Scitech on steroids), so this kept the girls amused for several hours. Afterwards we walked down to City Hall to find somewhere to eat. A burger joint called Five Burgers called our attention and they definitely made great burgers. From here we jumped back on the hop on hop off bus and headed back to the Historic District and the Independence Visitor Centre. Tickets were available for Independence Hall at 3:15pm - so made the mad dash across the park to take the free tour. Independence Hall is where the declaration of independence was debated and eventually signed. It was also Congress / Government for several years after the revolutionary war until Washington was rebuilt. In the West Wing, you can actually see one of the original copies of the Declaration (believe it belong to Richard Nixon) on display.
Next we headed across to Liberty Bell display (again free to view). For such a small bell, its significance is quite overwhelming - history would suggest that it is only linked to the revolutionary war, but it has been pretty much been wheeled out whenever anyone has celebrated / threatened / debated or argued over liberty and freedom.
At this point, Simone and the girls were showing signs of tiring - but going back to the hotel to rest didn't really appeal to me. I noticed that the Phillies were playing at home that night and a quick check showed there were tickets available. So quickly dropped the girls off at the hotel, jump on the subway and 45 minutes later was sitting in great seats watching the Phillies at Citizen Bank Park. The Phillies were soundly beaten by New York Mets, with pitcher Harvey throwing a great game. The Mets were also hitting line drives all night as though it was batting practice...to the local fans annoyance. Anyway, end up score of 7-2.....not a bad way to end another good day.
We said goodbye to NY and The Benjamin as we picked up our car from Newark Airport. Had a bit of a hiccup with the first car we were given on the lot as it had a flat battery, so they gave us a Chevrolet Captiva. This was probably an upgrade as it had all the trimmings (leather seats etc.). Anyway, we decided that Lexi and Hershey's chocolate factory was a sugar disaster in the making (plus even Simone was not that keen on another choc factory), so decided that we would go to the Philadelphia Zoo instead (read it was great for the kids). Took about 1.3 hours to drive to the Zoo, then about another 30 minutes to find parking etc. Being a sunny (and reasonably warm day) the zoo was pretty packed, but not anymore than Perth on a good day. Overall the Zoo was pretty well setup and had some very good concepts. For example, the primates have a tree top circuit that connects via netted tunnels to different parts of the zoo - so they can pretty much walk around above your head and hang out in the open. There was also a whole new kids experience section that had a whole heap of animals that roam free that the kids can play with - unfortunately this didn't open until 13th April so we just missed out. The polar bears and gorillas were the high points for the girls as they hadn't seen them in the zoo before.
After the Zoo we headed back to Philadelphia Historic District to find the hotel. This caused a bit of confusion as we could find a holiday inn at the location and had to do a few bog laps until we realised that another hotel brand was in the location. We found out that the hotel had just recently rebranded to Wyndham - but still had our reservation, so no problems checking in.
Once we had checked in and the girls had a bit of a veg infront of the TV, we headed out into the Historic District for dinner. I had read about a place close by called Sonny's Famous Steaks, so we went here for a Philly Cheesesteak. Lexi, Sim and I had a Cheesesteak, while Fe had a cheeseburger - all very tasty!! Taking a walk to burn off the cheesesteaks, we stumbled across "The Franklin Fountain" - an old style Icecream Saloon that we obviously had to stop at. Their award winning icecream was all natural and very good (even for me who doesn't do deserts).