Half an hour. That is truly the only thing standing in between us and an entire city filled with opportunity, vision, skyscrapers, beauty, lights, and excitement. As Arcadia students, we often complain about having nothing to do, yet a 10-minute walk and a 20-minute train ride can take us to one of the most fantastic cities in the world—The City of Brotherly Love. I decided to take advantage of this a few Sundays ago towards the end of February.
Every time I go to Philly, I wonder once again why I don’t take advantage of the fact that Glenside is a suburb of the ever-exciting Philadelphia. This last time was no exception, as I sat happily on the train ride, listening to the wheels race along the track, watching the scenery change with my boyfriend by my side.
The forecast for the day was, naturally, calling for bitter cold and snow. We decided to brave the storm and go anyway, which ended up being the right decision, because the weatherman was wrong (shocker): it was absolutely gorgeous out. Sunny and warm—the perfect day to roam the streets of the city I love. We climbed off the train at Market East Station and began our journey.
We were pretty hungry, so we had to grab something to eat. Thus, first stop: Reading Terminal Market, also known as the most wonderful place in the world. Seriously, that place is any foodie’s dream. It was crowded as hell, but for good reason—everywhere you turn, there’s a food stand, and an interesting one at that. There were foods from all over the globe: Middle Eastern food, Greek food, Korean food, you name it. Every stand you passed was more interesting than the last—it was almost sensory assault. We walked in circles for a while, dazed, our mouths hanging open stupidly as we tried to decide what to choose.
Eventually, we decided on Beck’s Cajun Café, famous for its New Orleans-style food. My boyfriend ordered one of their famous Po Boy sandwiches, the Train Wreck: filled with Andouille sausage, steak, salami, cheese, and onion. Based on his reaction, I now believe it’s distinctly possible that he will leave me for this sandwich. I opted for some gumbo instead, but the most daring type: Gator Gumbo. The answer to your question is yes, there is real gator in there. Gator sausage, to be exact, and it was delicious. The combination of the sausage, the Cajun spices, the crisp vegetables, and the rich white rice was absolutely perfect.
We tottered out of the market with pretty intense food babies and headed toward the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the Van Gogh exhibit, taking in the beautiful scenery as we passed. As we approached the museum, we noticed the line of people pouring out of the doors all the way down the famous Rocky steps. We also happened to realize that we came on the wrong day for the museums to be free, so we opted to save the art museum for another day. After all, we did have the entire city at our fingertips.
We walked through the city with no real aim in mind, which was entertaining enough in itself. We must have seen hundreds of adorable dogs, as their owners were taking advantage of the beautiful weather by taking a stroll. Delicious wafts were coming from restaurants and cheese steak stands on the sides of the street. Pigeons strutted through the streets; I fawned over them, but my boyfriend called them “rats with wings.”
We eventually made our way to Walnut Street, or, as my boyfriend calls it, “the most expensive street in Philadelphia” (if you couldn’t tell, he had quite a bit to say while I was writing this piece). Both of us are fashion junkies, but both of us are also college students, so we simply window-shopped and pretended like we could buy it all. We passed Lacoste, Armani, American Apparel, Juicy Couture, and—my personal favorite—Coach. Whether you have money or not, window-shopping in the streets of Philadelphia is a lot more fun than you’d think.
After a while, it got a bit hot (yes, in February) and we got a bit peckish again, so we decided to head back to Reading Terminal Market before we went back home. We opted for Bassetts Ice Cream, a 150-year-old ice cream company. With 16.5% butter fat, this ice cream is so good that it was featured on the Travel Channel’s list of great ice cream. We ordered Gadzooks, one of their unique ice cream flavors that has real brownies, peanut butter, chocolate and caramel actually in the mix to make the ice cream as rich as possible.
We waddled out of the market yet again with yet another food baby. Full, tired, but content, we headed back on the train home and played Angry Birds the whole way back to Glenside. I can honestly say it was the best day I had in a long time.
So please, remember how lucky you are as an Arcadia student. A mere half-hour away is one of the greatest cities in the world, all at your disposal. A multitude of fantastic opportunities and memories await you. What are you waiting for?
Photography credit to Jordan Richards, via her permission