Today was a great day. We made a few wrong turns again in the morning,
including at least two that took us over bridges into New Jersey, each
requiring that we pay a toll to return to Pennsylvania ... but
eventually we got wrong-turn-itis out of our system.
In Philadelphia, we were able to see the Liberty Bell, Independence
Hall, the first US Capitol, two different Quaker houses, Benjamin
Franklin's grave, a memorial to the unknown soldiers of the revolutionary
war, and probably a few other things that I don't remember right now.
Philadelphia advertises a four-by-five-block stretch of downtown as
"America's most historic mile," and it certainly is.
We learned a lot about William Penn, his ideal of religious tolerance,
and his contributions to the Pennsylvania constitution, which formed
the basis for our own Bill of Rights. We learned most of this not in
Independence Park, but in one of the Quaker houses, which had a very
friendly guide that we caught at a quite time. He is a member of a
Quaker meeting in New Jersey, and he explained to us a bit about the
Quaker meetings and the beliefs of the various different Quaker groups.
Everything here is well worth seeing. The Liberty Bell is the real
one, not a replica. Being really just a very old bell with a big
crack in it, it was a bit ugly despite its historical significance.
At both the first US Capitol and Independence Hall, we were fortunate
enough to get the same very enthusiastic guide. Learning about these
buildings would have been a very different experience without a guide
or with a different guide.
After everything here closed at 6:00 pm, we got the car out of hock
and cruised on down to Rittenhouse Square. Parking is expensive in
Philadelphia! It cost us $16 to park near Independence Hall for
six hours, then another $14 to park near Rittenhouse Square for just
two hours to eat dinner. Traffic was pretty bad getting to the Square
during 6 pm rush hour, but not so bad when we left there at 8 pm.
We ate at Rouge on 18th, just across from the Square. Their "Rouge
Burger" was considered one of the "20 hamburgers you must eat before
you die" by GQ magazine. We both had ours bunless, since we are
allergic to wheat gluten. The burger itself must be a half pound,
and it's not flat, but almost more like meat ball shape because
it's so tall. Our medium requests came out mildly crunchy on the
outside while pink in the very center. They come with carmelized
onions and gruyere cheese, plus lettuce, tomato and pickle if you
want them. They also come with "pommes frites" which is I guess
how they say "french fries" in Philadelphia's French Quarter.
We had a side order of grilled asparagus that seemed barely warmed,
but was very tasty. To top it all off, they had two different
flavors of our favorite dessert, creme brule, and a flourless
chocolate cake to boot. But the cook suggested the flourless cake
might still have a trace of flour from the baking process, where
it is used to remove the cake from the pan. We did try both the
vanilla and the chocolate creme brules. I let Mary have most of
the chocolate one, although it was the better of the two, because
it was so rich.
We will be on the lookout for more "burgers to die for" as we get
into New Jersey and New York, where there are four more.
Tonight we've ended up in the middle of New Jersey near Princeton,
because I ran out of steam. We hope to get into NYC tomorrow, but
we still don't even know yet where to catch the train or where we
can park the truck safely.