Monday, February 10, 2014

The City of Brotherly Love


Did you all know that Philadelphia is the "city of brotherly love?" I didn't until recently...but then again I have never lived on the east coast or known much about Philly (okay, technically our place in Florida was on the "east coast," but you know what I mean - the northeast). Apparently the name Philadelphia actually means "brotherly love" in that's all there is to it.

For now I want to re-cap our very first trip to Philadelphia! We had never been to downtown Philly, so one Saturday (February 1st) when the weather was a bit nicer than it has been lately we decided to take a little day trip.

Initially we wanted to explore the Art Museum because A) it's one of the largest in the United States and B) it's a great, stroller-friendly, indoor activity we could enjoy in the heart of winter. However, we changed our plans when I went to their website and learned that admission is "pay as you wish" the first Sunday of every month and each Wednesday after 5pm. Not only that, but I thought I found a listing saying every Sunday is currently free right now until early April...though now I'm not sure where I read it. In other words, we plan to explore the Art Museum on several other occasions...most likely Sundays.

Philly Cheesesteaks
Instead we decided to get lunch at the infamous Pat's and Geno's so we could try our first legitimate Philadelphia cheesesteaks. For the record, we prefer Geno's...and apparently so does everyone else who attended the Super Bowl party we were invited to; this became apparent during Geico's #cheesesteakshuffle commercial (because everyone lamented the fact that he was standing on a table at Pat's).

Geno's for the win!

Italian Market
After lunch we strolled north on 9th street and walked the length of the Italian market - which is awesome, by the way. If we lived in the city I would definitely purchase loads of fresh produce here instead of buying any of it at a grocery store. One random bit of trivia is that this is the oldest outdoor market in the nation!

I will say that while Michael and I love to explore local "mom and pop's" type places, these are not the most kid-friendly when it comes to diaper changes because they rarely have changing tables - or even a bathroom counter large enough to do the job. However, the urban "hipster" movement that has taken over the area surrounding the Italian market certainly made me feel 100% comfortable nursing Gabriel in a random coffee shop (which had a delicious chai latte to boot). Perhaps I should clarify that I don't feel uncomfortable nursing him in public (with a cover), but it is always nice to nurse him in a place where I'm pretty sure no one else would bat an eyelash.

My husband carried Gabriel all day long. Basically the definition of attractive.

Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul
After walking the length of the market, we caught a bus to the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. The church was every bit as beautiful as I imagined - and there's something about visiting the Cathedral of any diocese I am a part of that really warms my heart.

Pretty much any photo of these two warms my heart

Speaking of heart-warming, we arrived at the church in the afternoon with plans to explore a little, head to confession, then peace out before the 5:15 vigil Mass. When we arrived there was some sort of service in progress and we were confused. After all, it was way too early for the vigil. Was it a wedding?! Nope. Then I wondered if it was a funeral...also negative. We quietly looked through the side chapels and waited for the Mass to be over, still wondering what was going on. Then, all of a sudden I figured it out. It was a married couple renewing their vows! It must have been their 50th wedding anniversary - and as they processed out they were followed by a large family that must have been their children and grandchildren. All of the men wore dashing tuxedos and the ladies had varying formal dresses. Oh, it was so sweet.

Michael made it to confession while I fed Gabriel - then we headed back into the chilly air for our final destination that evening.

After taking some photos that highlight the massive size of the church and ducking into a small cafe for some water and birch beer (yum!) we hopped on a bus to Chinatown.

After living in Chicago for a year I must say that Philly's Chinatown seemed tiny(!)...but as long as they had good food, bakeries, and bubble tea I don't think it mattered to us much. We had fun strolling through a few stores and bakeries before hitting up a restaurant that got some of the best reviews for Taiwanese food (they passed the test). Afterwards we finished out the evening with bubble tea before heading back to the train station.

Public Transportation
I wanted to mention that we parked at a nearby SEPTA station (a 12 minute drive from our apartment) and caught the train into the city that morning. People were very friendly and our ride from the suburbs was relatively quick. We purchased the $12 "Independence" Pass which gave us unlimited access to all trains and buses for the day and I literally thanked the Lord that we did this. After taking two trains and 3 different bus rides the passes saved us money and made our entire day's travels much smoother than it would have been had we driven or taken taxis. I do not recommend driving into Philly if you've never been there before...and I seriously thanked God over and over that He blessed us with the wisdom we needed to decide to utilize public transportation for our first trip downtown. Such a blessing.

All in all it was a great day and I think Michael and I are both excited for our next weekend adventure - whenever that may be! Being in the suburbs of Philadelphia has made me realize that my year in Chicago (back when Michael and I were dating and got engaged) really shaped a lot of Michael's and my shared interests and ideas about what kind of area we'd like to live in when we "settle" somewhere in the future. We are both happy to be near a large city once again and I'm so thankful that we have this opportunity to learn a new part of the country! And if any of you have recommendations for us to check out, please let me know. :)

"A great city is not to be confounded with a populous one."


  1. love that picture of michael & gabriel - so cute! philly looks like a fun place! i'd totally want to visit it after reading this post! you had me at hipster and coffee shop ;)