My second day in Philadelphia started lazily as we sluggishly got washed up and dressed while watching cable movies on Endri's big-screen television over the course of the morning. We finally made it out the door for lunch as we headed back to the city by way of Seorabol Korean Restaurant. Even though I've very recently enjoyed Korean barbecue buffet (see Day 97: The Buffet), I haven't tired of the flavorful, sizzling meat and dazzling array of side dishes. It was an immensely satisfying meal. Afterward, the guys dropped me off at 30th Street Station, where I began the third phase of my trip by meeting up old friends from church, including Michelle; her brother, Danny; his wife, Phi; and their new baby, Joseph!
Although Danny and Phi, the resident Philadelphians, had a birthday party to attend, Michelle and I enjoyed some time exploring the city on our own. We started off at the Christmas Village in Philadelphia at City Hall, which wound up being a disappointment in spite of the publicity. It took all of 20 minutes for us to walk the unimpressive holiday market, leaving us scrambling for our next activity. We did enjoy the public art that looked like giant board game pieces in front of the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building and also swung by Reading Terminal Market to ogle the impressive food selection; unfortunately, I was still too full from lunch to truly partake and appreciate the culinary array.
Despite Michelle's multiple trips to Philadelphia, she had never been to see the iconic sights, so I returned with her to the Independence National Historic Park and this time got to visit the Liberty Bell Center, which was actually surprisingly empty on a Sunday afternoon. The Liberty Bell, for me, has been associated with legendary adventure since watching the "Sweet Taste of Liberty" episode from the first season of How I Met Your Mother. As you can see from the video below, it has influenced my other vacations as well.
As dark fell, we swung by Penn's Landing in the Olde City, which has an amazing view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. On our walk back, we stumbled upon The Franklin Fountain, possibly the most adorably enchanting ice cream parlor I've ever visited. It managed to project the atmosphere of a quaint, vintage sweets stand without being too schmaltzy or pretentious. The menu, though certainly not reflective of old-fashioned prices, was original and delicious; I wound up with an amazing hot chocolate float, a concoction that used dark cocoa and maple walnut ice cream.
We were not able to stay long because Danny and Phi soon returned from their party to pick us up for dinner. Our destination was Pat's King of Steaks, the main rival to Geno's Steaks, which I tried yesterday (see Day 104: The City of Brotherly Love). In the heated debate between the two competing establishments, I'd have to say Geno's has a slim lead based on the slightly higher quality of ingredients. Because the only seating at Pat's was outdoors, and by then it was raining pretty steadily, we had to take our meal to-go and headed to Chinatown, where we squatted at Mong Kok Station Bakery. We only had about an hour to finally relax and catch up before I had to board my bus back to New York City, but it was still a pleasure to briefly meet Joseph and see the development of a beautiful new family. A big thank you to Danny and Phi for going out of their way, even amidst the rain and fatigue, to take me around Philadelphia!
|Stuffed full with barbecue at Seorabol Korean Restaurant with Endri and Tony.|
|The regal Corinthian columns of 30th Street Station.|
|The Christmas tree at 30th Street Station.|
|The very disappointing Christmas Village in Philadelphia holiday market at Philadelphia City Hall.|
|Michelle checking out some homemade holiday stockings at Christmas Village in Philadelphia.|
|The beautiful Philadelphia City Hall.|
|The arches of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Pennsylvania.|
|It's the top hat from Monopoly!|
|Real knights never had it this tough.|
|Watch out, Michelle! Giant falling dominoes!|
|Resisting the inevitable.|
|Michelle and the Liberty Bell.|
|A casting of the Liberty Bell's inscription in bronze.|
|A relatively small crowd visiting the Liberty Bell on a Sunday evening.|
|It looked like this pile of leaves was on fire, but it was just the steam caused by the cold air.|
|The view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge from Penn's Landing.|
|The absolutely adorable Franklin Fountain old-fashioned ice cream parlor.|
|Michelle enjoys our hot chocolate float with maple walnut ice cream.|
|My third and final Philly cheesesteak of the evening from Pat's King of Steaks.|
|I get to meet baby Joseph!|
|A proud and tired new parent.|
|The new auntie enjoying her second day with the nephew!|
|What choo lookin' at?|