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An Alien in Spain Visits - USA (Philadelphia)

After arriving in Philadelphia and checking into my lodgings, a third floor room in the house (to the right) in Walton Street, just off Baltimore Avenue, a nice safe area where a room via AirBnB cost $38 a night.

I was able to have an early start to my first day and called in at The Independence Visitors centre at 5th & Market Street in Old Town where you can buy the 2 day Philadelphia, Pass excellent value at $80 which allows you access to everything you could wish to see in the city including the Hop on Hop off bus and The Duck Tour. You can also see two free short films regarding The fight for Independence.

It is also a great place to remember for free toilets

I always get a ticket for the sightseeing ride in every city I visit that has one and sit on the bus the whole way round the first time (about 90 mins) marking the places you want to see on your map and hop off second time around to visit what you want before hopping back on.

Great way to cover the whole city.

We passed a very neat bust of Benjamin Franklin made completely of 1,000 keys and penny coins collected by children of Philly. Good innit. We continued on past the Gate to Chinatown, put together like a Jigsaw puzzle no screws or nails used at all - I know there is a Hard Rock Cafe everywhere these days but interestingly this is the second largest guitar sign in The USA, the biggest is in Las Vegas so worth a picture.

Ever wondered why its called Pennsylvania well up there is the man, a Quaker, who founded it - William Penn in Philadelphia Centre City and up high where he can be seen from all over the city. Interesting fact the statue of William Penn is so big the eyeballs are 1 foot in diameter.


The bus ride takes you through the centre of the city past City Hall that was built back in the day and has no ducts built in hence if you look at every window there is a separate air condition unit for every room past the north side of City Hall, where there is a statue of a soldier on horseback that honours General John Fulton Reynolds, a Union commander during the Civil War who died at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Philadelphia being one of the original 13 States can boast the first of many things and a railroad station is one of those claims - Pennsylvania Railroad Suburban Station.

Moving to the outskirts North of the city we find The Basilica of St Peter & St Paul of which I was informed "could stand up alongside anything in Rome" - as someone who has been to Rome a few times all I can say to that is "what a crock of you know what" not too impressive by Rome Standards.

No Beaches in Philly so when it gets hot they use this fountain although against city ordnance the police look the other way although if they didn't you would no longer end up here - Philadelphia State Prison now closed - Benjamin Franklin was against torture of prisoners so he set down rules they should be kept isolated in rooms 8 x 4 for 14 hours a day ? Good job he wasn't for torture then ??

Philadelphia Museum of Art in a road with lots of Museums including The Rodin Museum with a bloke outside Thinking about things like maybe going in?

If it looks familiar it's where Philadelphia's favourite son runs up the steps and pumps the air after a long run - No, Not Ben Franklin - Rocky Balboa

Looking down from The Hot Air balloon rides that are available from the city along the avenue of museums you can see a Gold Statue of Joan of Arc not sure why she is there but I suppose America had strong ties with France Ce La Vie.

As we headed across town to the more residential area we took in The Wilma Theatre where the more unusual / Non Mainstream plays are aired hence the $25 tickets.

The Childrens Hospital, one of the first, if not the first Hospital - if you look at the top the round white bit is a glass roof, at the time when operations were carried out there were no electric lights as Ben hadn't discovered them yet and they needed as much light as possible - And finally the Benjamin Franklin house and printing offices where he lived until his death.

The next three random pictures are of interesting facts I picked up on the tour and found worthy of passing on so Picture 1 I have to apologise for the blurring but I had to rush to take it when the bus driver told us that they built the steps to this property so women went up one side and men the other as Quakers thought it Pornographic seeing women's ankles !!!@!@!!

In the second picture you will I am sure have heard of the Mason Dixon Line or the Mason Dixie line that divided the North from the South during the American Civil War well this is where it started in the South of Philadelphia. Important as when a slave from the Southern Slave states crossed over that line they were safe North in the Union States.

And the third picture will get your brain cells working - The very first Post Office in The United States of America, another Benjamin Franklin Brainchild, it is the only Post office in USA that has never flown The American Flag outside - can any bright spark tell me WHY?

Making our way back to the centre we passed through Penn Landing where we saw a schooner built in Maine that had made its way down here and Moshulu Restaurant an old Iron Boat now a Restaurant and Bar with some excellent priced meals served in a great setting the bar looks good as well, both ships were overlooked by The Franklin Bridge spanning The Delaware River into Camden, New Jersey.

Completing the circuit we passed a residential street in the Old City District and I know Halloween is nearly on us but really, you have to wonder who lives here - I thought of Edgar Alan Poe with The Raven and all.

After a tough 90 minutes on the Bus Tour I was ready to be introduced to Philly's most famous creation and probably the only one Ben Franklin had nothing to with The Cheese Steak at Sonny's which is in Market Street near the Junction with 3rd Street I give directions because if you ever here try one you will not regret it.

Cheese steak with means with onions and then you chose your choice of cheese that and a bottomless cup of Soda $11-00 but don't forget the tip Jar and I know I should have taken the picture before the bite but you weren't there - God it was good !!!!!

Also across the road is The 4 Fathers (Cute Eh) well they sell beer from the oldest brewery in America called Yuengling - Beers Good The 4 Fathers better. I think you can get it a lot down south but if in Philly try The 4 Fathers bar in Market street it's so good.

After a filling meal I decided to head down to the Water and Seaport Museum part of which is two very different crafts I had seen from The Tour Bus and you know us boys with their toys so ladies look away now as I toured one of the first Electric powered submarines and an original iron steam warship The USS Becuna & USS Olympia

Not much to look at now but in their day they were quite a handful and the men that went on these crafts were very brave The Submarine Becuna was launched in 1944 and she served under MacArthur in the pacific and wasn't decommissioned until 1969 whereas The Cruiser Olympia was launched in 1892 and is still the oldest steel warship afloat today, finally decommissioned in 1992

From Coning Tower and Turret to the Bow steps leading down into the belly of the beast - Ladies look away now - Men & their toys in play

When you get inside you realise how little space there is - if you notice there are two bunks beneath the torpedoes and two above - I don't know if they were all small but it's not easy getting through one of these when your over six foot tall - And to the officers bunks I see R H I P - for those that weren't in the services Rank Has It's Privileges.

lights at red for Action Stations and Quiet Running - Claustrophobic or what, especially as there would be about 5 men in this space - And I have trouble with the number of dials on my car dashboard no chance in here.

Radio room for communications - notice the modern typewriters - Mess hall for the men 12 at a time - The Aft (back) same arrangements as the front sleeping with the torpedoes.

From Becuna to Olympia was only a few strides along the tow path but a step back 100 years in time with regards to the style of Ship and what do you know - Remember R H I P and it was true 100 years ago Ward room for officers - Ward Room nice eh

The ship was powered by coal and only had enough to travel nearly 6000 miles so they had to head to a country that would supply them with coal to keep the engines running - Where they were building up steam to power the ship there was a lot of ash produced so they would fill the ash chute in the bottom send it up top and the ash was emptied over the side - You may have heard the name but now you can say you have actually seen one - A scuttlebutt which is a container of cold water where the crew would congregate to get a drink and gossip about what was going down at the time

A bit more room than in a submarine but a bit like a studio flat really with eating and sleeping in one room - a walk past One of the decorations the crew received after a successful engagement to the other end of the ship to - Known on a ship as "The Head" another place to gossip I suppose?

To finish with the Galley (kitchen to you and me) and only 33 officers and 378 enlisted men to cook for bet they never had Cheese steak !!!

After leaving the waterfront I walked back to Front Street, it's really 1st street but Quakers believe God comes first so they called it Front Street instead and between that and second runs an Alley called "Alfreths Alley" which has the oldest terraced houses in America thought I should like to see them.

A National Historic Landmark couldn't put it better myself and it looks as if others had the same idea as me to see the historic buildings. In the window of one of the houses and it says it all, enlarge it and see what the little one learnt about in playschool

If you pick a day when it is open you get to see inside the museum unfortunately it only opens when they have a volunteer and today they didn't have one - Hey Ho

1736 I suppose by US standards that is classed as old but I am from England and in 1666 we had a fire in London and we still have some of the ones didn't get burned. The oldest inhabited building in UK is Luddesdown Court near Cobham, Kent from around 1082 Yes 1082 !!!!

Well as my first day draws to an end I reflected that the most famous man in the history of Philadelphia history - it had to be Benjamin Franklin after all he was one of the foundling fathers and a great deal has been attributed to him so I thought before I called it a day I would find out about the man

There are statues and busts of the man everywhere and rightly so this one replaced a previous one on this site Keys to community was the title and if you zoom in you can see it is made from keys (1000 to be exact)

What better place than The Franklin Court & Museum, it is on the site where he lived although the family pulled it down in the past but this museum still houses lots of his memorabilia

I thought the exhibits were very apt and from the time I spent around the museum it put me in mind of being in the presence of a Life Coach and a very good one at that always a saying to instil the wish to be better. I particularly liked The sculpture that denotes what Franklin was always saying - that man should always be striving to achieve more hence the onward and upward path.

On the wall can be found a painting of every President since the first, George Washington, who took office after winning Independence and includes Benjamin Franklin. I found Awakening of the spirit encouraging Shame it came too late for the Native American Indians but I suppose better late than never.

There is a whole wall dedicated to examples of men and women who have displayed great courage in adversary and become Heros - I have chosen one to put up here, probably not everyone's choice but who cares it's my blog. He is my hero - He won The Golden Gloves in Rome in 1959 but he still couldn't eat with "White Folks" and so he threw his medal away. A year later he won the Olympic Gold medal and turned professional.

Despised by white people at the time he was not afraid to be himself and he chose to become a peaceful Muslim when he won the heavyweight championship of the world even though he was shunned by a large group of fight promoters. He then refused Military service when everyone knew he could have done an Elvis and never seen the battle front and this resulted in him becoming a criminal and being stripped of his titles. Did he give in? NO he fought it and eventually got it overturned 4 years later, he went on to show unbelievable courage in the fights that followed - then in 1984 he was diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease and today aged 72 he is still fighting it — Unfortunately since this was originally posted Muhammad Ali passed away on 3rd June 2016 and will always be known as "The Greatest" R.I.P.

Day 2

My last day in Philadelphia was a little bit of an anticlimax in fact you could say it was a washout as the heavens opened and it poured down with rain (which I suppose is perfect weather for Ducks) I was booked on a "Ride The Ducks Tour"so off I headed into Old Town. First Stop Breakfast and after the ride a meal in Chinatown followed by a last visit to a museum of Ben Franklin

The Main food Hall is called Philadelphia Bourse and is off Market street J/w 5th Street close to the Independence visitors centre. When I got there I thought it was empty because it was early but after a Chinese version of an English breakfast in an American Mall - I should have had a Cheese steak at Sonny's.

The Ride the Duck Tour covered some of the ground we covered the day before but as it was an amphibious vehicle it was obviously going to parts we had not ventured before. It was too wet to stand outside and take a picture so look at the reflection and be happy it wasn't you out there getting Man Flu.

I had seen this on T Shirts and didn't know it was a famous sculpture and here it is at LOVE sculpture Philadelphia. Apparently it was done like that the artist said because "Love isn't perfect " - I like that. I am not sure about the statue in the third picture but as it was close to the last one I thought it might be called Orgy" - well I don't know do I ?

I missed the statue of Rocky yesterday because it wasn't at the top of the steps as it should have been but it was pointed out in it's new home today, put me in mind of the saying yesterdays news is tomorrows chip paper. Well I'm more than sure Rocky never ate the establishment in picture 2 do you? I don't think the food is very filling.

Larry Fine, one of The Three Stooges who was born right there, well next door in his fathers jewellery shop - Great story he had a problem with the joint on his right arm so he was told to learn the violin as an exercise which he did and when he became famous the other two stooges paid him $30 a week extra as long as he didn't play he was so bad Ha Ha.

Did I say the Duck was an amphibious craft and did I mention the weather was bad. We went out on to the Delaware River but didn't stay out too long I'm glad to say, well what do you expect in that weather. We Headed under the Franklin Bridge praying we didn't go down.

I took Lunch in the Erawan Restaurant Chinatown - Very nice meal, however, when I told the waitress I had been to The Erawan Waterfalls (in Thailand) she asked where they were? Shame as they are a set of 7 wonderful falls - look it up on my Asia blog. Oh and eat here great food.

On my way to my next stop I came across a Wall - Yep - Just a wall but Great Mural done by the Graffiti artists of Philadelphia which served a purpose to advertise the society and kept the wall free from Graffiti from others who respected the tags - other cities take note - Good Idea.

My last stop, soaking wet but hoping to be encouraged to keep going I visited The "Franklin Institute" - Impressive Statue in the Foyer and I know that saying on the wall should I head for bed now ? Although I was told that Philadelphia is a haunted city looks as if it's correct.

This was interesting a mock up of a heart to walk through and see how it works plus lots of other exhibits well worth a look but care with what the kids see at one stage there is a newsreel of open heart surgery being performed.

Loads for kids to get involved with and maybe that is what this learning thing is all about there is a pendulum hanging down the stairs from the roof and continually moving at all times - Perpetual motion me thinks - SkyBike ? - Yep definitely one for the younger generation.

As I come to the end of my time in the birthplace of American Independence did you honestly believe I would go to Philadelphia and not see The Liberty Bell.

For those sharp eyed amongst you, yes the picture was taken when it wasn't raining the day before, but I thought It appropriate to finish this blog with what Philadelphia is all about Liberty !!! Although after seeing all the homeless in New York, looking closely at these pictures maybe it's not all it's cracked up to be !!!

Tomorrow, all being well I head further South to the Capital of The USA - Washington DC - Until the Next Time.

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