a Saturday in Philadelphia – time travel

Posted on Posted in Film Festivals/Movies, Philadelphia, Philly Food, Restaurants

We all dream of time travel in literature, in the movies and maybe just to correct the neon clothing we wore in the 80’s with our teased hair in the photos that our nieces laugh at (ok, that last one might just be me).  It was a cloudy, overcast day in Philly this weekend and I was wandering through time without any concern for the weather.

Walking past history in Philadelphia
Walking past history in Philadelphia

Well, I was without the sci-fi gadgets as I strolled through colonial history walking the cobblestones of Philadelphia passing the gardens and historic landmarks on my way to the movie theatre, the Ritz, in Old City.  It was time for Talk Cinema, a movie club I belong to that screens a yet unreleased film and then discusses it afterward with a local movie critic -which is always entertaining.  I don’t know what I will see until I arrive and pick up the marketing flyer which just has the movie title and credits on it.   Many times, the films are from the festival circuit and will never be released, others are coming soon to a theatre near you (if you have an independent film theatre in your town).  This day, I would be transported to 1960’s London during the Cuban missile time period when students protested and feared the consequences of countries at war.  The movie was Ginger & Rosa and was quite interesting in the fact that it conveyed the feelings you have with your best friend when you are inseparable teenagers, mirroring each other. That feeling that you two are the only ones in the world, two halves of a whole, forging your way through experience to shape who you will be.  It was about trust, identify, strong feelings and working through all of those in one film.  The young actress, Elle Fanning, sister of Dakota, who filmed this when she was 12/13 – she was so winning in the role of a 17 year old.  The film overall, was predictable but still enjoyable in the theater.  As one of the younger people in the audience, the discussions are always interesting as the group (average age 70+) often see a different film than I did and I wonder who missed what.

Ring up history in Philadelphia
Ring up history in Philadelphia

After the film, I walked past Independence Hall, historic gardens and loved to see that you can just “dial up history” for your own walking tour -a very cool concept for a do it yourself tour anytime of the day/night.

 

On my last visit during brunch, I had a craving for fries and steered toward the lunch side of the menu.  The meal was enjoyable, however, the table next to me had breakfast and more specifically the pancakes that were massive.  Inquiring as to what that table was eating, I was told the BMW pancakes which were caramelized banana, walnut, maple pancakes – oh my!  My lunch didn’t seem so fun so I vowed my next brunch visit would be for those pancakes.  Today, I ordered them with a side of bacon, because everything is better with bacon!

 

Caramelized Banana Maple Walnut (BMW) Pancakes at Jones - I tried my best but there was no way I could finish these -they were massive and insanely delicious!
Caramelized Banana Maple Walnut (BMW) Pancakes at Jones – I tried my best but there was no way I could finish these -they were massive and insanely delicious!

The pancakes arrived and wow!  Three 10″ plate sized fluffy pancakes topped with caramelized bananas and walnuts with maple syrup on top.  While I know there was no way to finish this platter, I was going to try my best to savor each morsel until I could do no more – I gave it a valiant effort (the waiter said he has never seen anyone finish them).

Reading Terminal Market - farmers market in Philadelphia filled with aisles of fantastic foods and tempting treats
Reading Terminal Market – farmers market in Philadelphia filled with aisles of fantastic foods and tempting treats

Leaving brunch, I needed to walk for miles to burn off some calories. Walking up Walnut Street, passing the historic architecture of the city, I proceeded to walk to Reading Terminal Market – a Philadelphia institution of food. The market is crowded on most days, more so when the Amish are there (Wednesday – Saturday) and today was no exception.  I had to maneuver my way around some of the food stalls to find my favorite local treats at the Pennsylvania General Store.  If you want to taste Philly’s best candies, cookies and chocolates, this is the place.  I tend to ship local favorites from the store to friends around the country – know in advance, once you do this, you will continue to do so.  With St. Patrick’s Day, I needed to buy Irish Potatoes for my mom (the woman eats no sweets but will hurt you if you attempt to take an Irish Potato from her) and a backup box of treats for my dad to keep the peace as he takes his life into his hands when he steals from mom.  Despite my full of pancakes status, I had to buy a Hope’s cookie and some Asher’s chocolate pretzels for later. Leaving the market, I passed the many food stalls you’ve seen on the Food Network, past the Amish and the lines of tourists waiting to experience their first cheesesteak, hoagie or cannoli.

With City Hall in the background, I headed back to the Old City Historic area to meet a friend for theater at the Arden theater.  Live theatre is fantastic and I think the arts in Philadelphia is definitely Broadway caliber without the costs of traveling to New York.

The President's House - Historic Philly - open air footprint with interactive video displays
The President’s House – Historic Philly – open air footprint with interactive video displays

 

It was at the Arden that I would journey to Chicago in the 1940’s in “A Raisin in the Sun” dealing with the Younger family and their dreams – the dream of most American families no matter their race or background – the dream of a better life than the one they have now.  A classic book, the staging and message still resonate today – it was funny, touching and the actors all fantastic.  The Arden is celebrating 25 years in Philadelphia and I have been a season subscriber since college so not quite 25 years but long enough to have seen its growth from a small studio in St. Stephen’s Alley to the Old City location that continues to grow as they expand to another property to expand their presence in the neighborhood.  The classes, camps and Children’s theater make this a theatre for the whole multi-generation family.  The small intimate stages draw you in and the performances rival anything you will see on Broadway.

The First Post Office and still operating today in Old City
The First Post Office and still operating today in Old City

Leaving the theatre into now a rainy, cold environment, we walked past the church, past the first post office to the new Hotel Monaco , located across from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, recently restored the building to house their stylish hotel.  The hotel has two restaurants –  their Red Owl tavern.  The Red Owl has a warehouse, exposed look in modern dark wood colors which is warm and inviting.  Their menu is quite varied with an eclectic list of appetizers, salads, entrees and mixed drinks.  The Stratus rooftop lounge often has a velvet rope line on the weekends (the first velvet roof I’ve ever seen in Philly).

 

The lobby at The Hotel Monaco, Philadelphia
The lobby at The Hotel Monaco, Philadelphia

 

My long day in the city over, I drove home thinking how lucky I am to have a day of time travel – colonial times, 60’s London, 40’s Chicago with the added benefit of misty rain/snow, the Amish, Reading Terminal and the fun design of a new hotel.  Film, theater, food and travel exploration are great ways to experience time travel without. of course, the sci-fi gadgets of the movies and television.

When was the last time you time traveled in your hometown? What did you do? Where did you go?

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