A few weeks ago, I was eating lunch with a friend and he told me that he didn’t find Philadelphia an exciting place — not like New York City or Los Angeles. As someone who moved from a place nicknamed “Greensboring” to the Philadelphia area, I politely disagreed with his sentiments. To me, Philadelphia is one of those places that is constantly brimming with activity. You can easily go anywhere in that city — South Street, China Town, or Old City — and end up having some of the best experiences that you have ever had.
Fast-forward to October 3rd, I thought I was going to be joining my fellow feminists in one of Philadelphia’s most important events, The March Against Rape Culture. My friend, Bridget and I met up at around 11:30 am, and proceeded to the Glenside train station to fight the patriarchy and grab some Dunkin. Bridget, like myself, had never been to the March before, but was super stoked to go and unite with our fellow progressives on the Philly streets. After a quick train ride, we were at Suburban Station, splitting some fresh Munchkins and being entertained by a homeless man giving us a comedic spoken word session. We were already late for the protest, but we thought that we would be able to catch some of the post-march festivities. With Google Maps ready, the robot voice on my phone calmly told us that it would take us 18 minutes to get to Thomas Paine Plaza. In actuality, we wouldn’t get there until 2:45.
With determined hearts, Bridget and I started our city adventure. It was cold and grey, but nothing could stop us from enjoying the energy that Philly was radiating. People were everywhere, and as we walked through the bustling streets, one cannot help but feel as though they were a small cog in a giant metropolitan machine. I think we both got so overwhelmed by everything that we ended up taking some unnecessary turns, and ended up at Rittenhouse Park. While there we gawked at the marvelous displays of apples, kale, squash and cider that were being sold at the Farmer’s Market. Even though we definitely wanted to buy some of these fresh goods, at this point, we were still determined to go to the March. We took a quick stroll in the park, admired the bronze statues and the changing leaves, and rerouted our course.
Despite our best efforts, we were still lost, but in the happiest way possible. We decided to go through Walnut Street. Everywhere you looked there was materialism-promoting store windows that illuminated awe and desire for fine designer goods from London, Paris and Milan. Bridget and I couldn’t resist going into some of them, and looking at all the things we wanted, but our collegiate budgets wouldn’t allow us to indulge. We left Walnut Street with nothing but free perfume samples on our wrists and our continued determination to get to the protest.
Even though we were closer to the our desired destination, we ended up in a completely different festival and we couldn’t help but be enticed by its liveliness and intoxicating food smells. The Midtown Fall Festival was literally a party between Chestnut and 13th Streets. There was booze, music and tons of food! (The most monstrous thing I saw was $10 guacamole.) For about an hour we walked around the going-ons of the festival, scoping for free stuff (and cheaper guacamole). Finally, we redirected ourselves, and made it to the protest. Sadly, by the time we got there the protest was over, and most of the energizing feminist force had dissipated. We stayed there for 15 minutes, and decided to go back to the Midtown Fall Festival.
Yet, again…we got lost. We ended up at Reading Terminal Market, and spent some more hours scoping for free, delicious things. (By this time, I was interested in more than just affordable guacamole.) Reading Terminal Market is a spectacular place full of different kinds of food and amazing visuals. I ended up tasting alligator for the first time, in the form of a tasty spiced-up gumbo sample from Beck’s Cajun Cafe. Not wanting to get too full, we headed back on the streets to get to the only place we did not have any trouble finding — Shake Shack. After a great ‘Shroom Burger and Pumpkin Pie Milkshake from Shake Shack, Bridget and I decided to head back to Suburban Station to catch the next train back to Glenside.
When I think back to what my friend said about how they found Philly boring, I think of how crazy that sentiment sounded. Just the fact that I was able to spend a random Saturday with my friend, enjoying new sights, sounds and foods makes me think that Philadelphia is one of the least boring places around. Yes, it’s not as big or as glamorously popularized as New York or Los Angeles, but that’s one of the reasons why it’s so great. Every week, Philly is in the midst of some grand event, or is hosting several different festivals during the same weekend. It is a city with great greasy Cheesesteaks, soft Amish pretzels and amazing alligator gumbo that can only be found this side of the Mason-Dixon Line. Philadelphia is a revolutionary city that gave us the Dead Milkmen, the Liberty Bell, Brotherly Love, Hall & Oates and the Fresh Prince.
Boring? I think not! If anything, my lost Saturday in Philly has reminded me how much I love it, and has fueled my desire to delve into more of its awesomeness.