I am so happy I was able to stay awake the entire drive! We brought good music and lots of movies to watch on the way there. However, my eyes were glued to the outside the entire time. I adore scenery, we saw so many beautiful hills and flowers on the way there. We immediately knew we reached the city when we saw the buildings in the distance. Then we crossed the bridge to Philly! The last picture is actually driving home in the sunset after our first night. =]
Every street we stepped on was full of sights. From buildings, to restaurants, to boutiques. It was adorable. There was so much to see, it was impossible not to miss something. The third photo is of Art Star Philly! A place I've wanted to go to for many years. This is however their most recent location. The architecture of the building is beautiful! It was actually our very first stop. We met one of the owners, she was so incredibly sweet and suggested us places to visit in the city. They only had originals I was interested in instead of prints, which were way out of my budget. Instead I bought a journal, pins and a mug which you'll see later.
Honey's was the place everyone suggested we go to. It was a really cute joint. We were lucky to have a short wait too! They have a variety of menu options. Brent raved over his meal. I got a three cheese grilled cheese which was also delish! Definitely one of our favorites!
So many buildings were painted with colorful murals. I saw most of them while driving so it was difficult to capture their detail. The center photo was just to demonstrate the people. There are cars, but everyone walks or rides bikes. Not just bikes, vintage adorable bikes. The last photo is Brent standing next to a home that I loved! The flowers in the windows in blue trim was too cute to boot! All the homes in the city were just as colorful and full of historic charm.
We decided to cross through the park to our next destination. They had their own community garden, benches and floral gardens. They even had floral paper art hanging from the trees. I was constantly falling more and more in love with Philly!
More of the city:
The first photo is from the same park from the above pictures. On the other side of the mural was swings and slides for little kids. I heard a lot of horror stories about bad areas of the city, but honestly I saw more families than anything. Everyone was so polite and sweet. The center photo is of yet another bike and the last of some street art Brent found and snapped a picture of.
The Fabric Workshop and Museum:
First off, one of my favorite buildings we saw. It's phenomenal. Half the floors are closed to the public and devoted as workshops for artists all around the world that are called by invite only. The other floors were filled with art made from fabric to felt to horse hair. It was so contemporary and nontraditional. All the pieces were definitely one of a kind and interesting. It'd be such an honor to use their workshop.
We weren't lucky enough to visit the museum in time to see the Renoir exhibit, but we still saw his older artwork. Anytime I go to a museum and look at Renaissance artwork, it puts every painting I've ever created to shame. The oils, colors, blending, intricacy and immaculate detail was wowing. We spotted an infamous sunflower painting from Van Gogh, not that he didn't have a bunch of others. Look at that frame! Drool! The last photo was one of Brent's. There was an entire glass/ceramics exhibit showing pieces throughout history. We saw as much as we could at the museum, but knew we had other places to go to before 5 o'clock closing.
Reading Terminal Market:
It was so funny, because I actually thought we were going to a book market place. We entered and the entire place was crowded with small foodie shops. They sold everything from fruit to chocolate to meat to cheese to herbs and spices. We were very disappointed we couldn't take advantage of the great selection and prices due to our long drive home.
Ohhh Chinatown! This was definitely one of our biggest adventures! First off, is the gorgeous friendship gate donated to us from China in the 1900's. It was huge and impossible to capture in one shot. We walked up and down the streets that were filled with so many restaurants and tchotchke souvenir shops. I bought my friend an awesome jade Buddha figurine, or Brent did because I never carry cash! He also bought me two lucky cat key chains. I'm just obsessed with them. [It shouldn't be hard to figure out why!] One was yellow that I put on my keyring, the other was two good luck cat bells that I hung from my rear-view mirror in my car.
Hello Kitty Shop:
Yes, I spotted a shop entirely devoted to Hello Kitty in Chinatown! I never thought I'd see so much! The picture to the right is of the treats I bought at Art Star and in Chinatown. Back row: A whale card Brent couldn't resist buying. & of course, of course, my very favorite koala and panda chocolate filled snacks! A fox mug from Art Star. Post card also from Art Star. Front Row: A beautiful journal designed by Jill Bliss that I've been debating purchasing for a while, but finally decided to when I saw it in person! Some packs of Hello Kitty Gum. Two of the good luck kitty key chains. A Hello Kitty nail file. Two pins from Art Star, one is a bicycle, the other is scissors. I tried to resist my shopping habits because the city was extremely expensive alone to spend time in. Each destination we parked at was $10! Then we purchased various tickets and food. All together our trip allotted to well over our $500 budget.
The aquarium was on our must see list. However we were slightly disappointed. The entire place was much smaller than we thought and way too expensive for the small exhibits they had. Our Akron zoo/aquarium had much more to offer. Although I stayed optimistic and snapped pictures of animals from hippos, to penguins and birds. The jellies were my most favorite, but we also saw sea turtles, hammerhead sharks and sharks! The coolest part was in fact their shark tunnel. It was pretty exhilarating standing in the middle of their domain seeing them from all angles and sides. They were so many!
Ben Franklin Soda Shop:
Hello adorable! The entire shop was old fashioned and cute! Brent and I looked at the sundae lists that was filled with unique sundaes. We were shocked when the cost for one was $9, but figured it was just the normal cost in the city. Then we received HUGE sundaes! I couldn't even finish half of mine! Brent got coffee flavored ice cream with hot fudge and chocolate covered coffee beans. I got chocolate ice cream with peanut butter sauce and pretzels. They were tasty, but way too much! On the way out we snatched some old fashioned sodas. We loved them so much we actually went to World Market yesterday and bought some more for home!
Morning Glory Diner:
This was our last Philly pit stop! We heard some good reviews on Urbanspoon and had to stop! There was a thirty minute wait, we stayed outside in the heat, but it was definitely worth the wait. It was uber cute inside, yet another joint with bar stools, colors, artwork, chalkboards and a scrumptious menu. I of course, being breakfast time, got pancakes. It was the first time I've ever had them served together with a watermelon. Such a perfect summer treat that actually went together really well!
Our last day was spent at the beach. It's not a vacation without sand and water! We decided to drive all the way down to the end of Deleware to get out of the Bay and into the Atlantic. It was supposed to rain, but shockingly when we arrived the weather was perfect. We laid out in the sun for a bit then went swimming. I wore my sailor suit I got from Modcloth last year and still love. However, it doesn't hold in the ladies very well at all! I figured I'd be fine, without thinking about the massive waves that'd be knocking me over. It was pretty comical though. Brent and I were in the water, standing next to little kids, every wave that came knocked us down and dragged us up to shore, while the kids were all still standing fine. I felt pretty silly. However it was so much fun and definitely tiring fighting waves! We didn't spend a lot of time there because of our drive back. It was enough though because I was exhausted when I got home!
Last but not least, was our hotel. In fact, it was the very first part of our Philly plans we had organized. Every hotel we viewed was expensive and old designed. We were so happy to find this gem! It was so hip and modern! It targeted the younger crowd with the colorful bar and blaring music! It was one of my favorite stays I've ever been in. The service and amenities were great. I took a shower every day there in their tiled walk in shower. I wish I could've taken home the shower and huge comfy king sized be! Haha.
Overall, these photos are all out of order but it'd be impossible to mention every sight and post every picture. I never expected to fall in love with the city. I've always been a country girl at heart. I have to say though, Brent and I fell in love. I've never felt like I was meant to be somewhere. I'm meant to be there. In a place that is original and constantly inspiring. No chain restaurants and plastic people. I was amazed and we didn't even see half of what we wanted to! We decided that when I graduate in May, I'll be applying for jobs there. It'd definitely be a dream come true. I can picture us thriving there and being much happier than where we're at now. In time we'll see!
It was really hard coming home, taking an exam online the same night, then going to bed and waking up at 6 am the next morning to go back to class. I'm holding on though to the finish and what this is all worth working for.