Philadelphia was on my travel target list for quite some time, and so when I had a weekend available amidst travels to NYC, I decided to do a quick trip.
And what impeccable timing, as a colleague put it. Apparently one of the coldest days ever for the area, with temperatures touching -15 degrees Celsius.
The early bus from NY deposited me near the Philly station in the morning. Freezing, but sunny. I strolled into the station and was kindly directed to take the metro to the old town center, to start my itinerary. By the time I had reached the Independence mall, it had started snowing, rather heavily. After a leisurely stroll through the exhibits in the visitor center, I hit the National Convention Center first, to keep warm from the freeze.
I wasn't expecting the Center to amount to much, but I was impressed. The Center has one of the best exhibits on American history, the creation of the constitution, and its subsequent evolution that I have seen. They had a multimedia presentation called "Freedom rising", which introduced the historical context of the creation of the US constitution, and was quite insightful. Since it was close to the President's day weekend, they also had an exhibit on the US Presidential elections, which was rather neat too - a good layman's overview of the process of Presidential elections, and cleared quite a few questions I had as an outsider.
Next stop was the Liberty Bell Center. It had quite a large line before it, and I walked around towards the end, only to realize that I could see the "bell" up pretty close from the glass panes. Saved me time in standing in line in freezing weather.
I spent the remainder of the day walking around Philly's old town. A lot of historical places and really well documented exhibits. Interesting to see how well some of this is preserved, and how pretty the area really is. A notable point was close to the river, where the inscription indicated a point where the US Marine Corps was founded (a tavern apparently, that no longer exits).
After wandering around town as much as the chilly weather would permit me, my last port of call was the Reading Terminal market. Loved the bustle. Quite a wide variety of food and non food items. Even found a shop selling Indian food (even had Britannia biscuits, Maggi and Lijat pappad!). Spent so much time engrossed in the time, that I almost missed my bus back. Had to make a hasty run to the metro and head back, just in time for the bus.
Overall, loved Philly's old town - so much to explore and see. Almost like Boston, with so much history and culture. Would love to go back and spend leisurely time exploring the place in a more sanguine weather.