It’s Day 11, and it’s been days since I’ve updated! My apologies, guys! It’s been a busy couple of days, leaving Pittsburgh and running around Philly. If you want to keep up with me on a day-to-day basis, you can always check out my Instagram account here since I always upload a photo every couple hours there. I’m missing a couple of days from blogging, but I’ll update those later since I have some drafts written. Until then, let’s talk about Day 11!
I woke up this morning a little late (10:00 AM), but I’m a little more adjusted to the East Coast schedule now. Since it was already getting warm, I thought I’d better get a move on, so I headed out without breakfast before it got even warmer! First stop this morning was the Rittenhouse Farmers’ Market, which is about a 30-min bike ride from Fishtown. I’ve gotten really good with this whole biking thing, so I complain a lot less (to myself because there’s no one around to listen to me whine lol) and my body is used to this type of exercise now. Watch, I’ll have buns of steel by the time I get back to California! 😉
The Rittenhouse Farmers’ Market is pretty small, which I suppose should be expected since it’s a farmers’ market on Tuesday. The farmers’ market is right by Rittenhouse Square, which is a nice little park with a shady trees and benches for you to sit and take a breather. It’s a nice place to just chill for a bit if you’ve been running around the busy downtown area. I was planning to have breakfast here, but there wasn’t anything that looked too intriguing so I left after snapping a couple of photos.
Fair warning—in case you didn’t already know, 10AM is pretty busy for the downtown area. There are a lot of cars driving around and while Philly is much more bike friendly than Pittsburgh, there will be some unfriendly drivers, so be careful!
Next stop was Reading Terminal Market! I was just there yesterday, but I had missed my chance to get the famous roast pork sandwich at Tommy DiNic’s because they close earlier on Mondays (4PM).
I made sure they were open this time, and they sure were open when I got there around 12:15PM. Reading Terminal Market was packed to the gills with people wanting to grab a good lunch before heading back to work. Tommy DiNic’s was no exception to the giant crowds. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I got in line and ordered a sandwich and soda. Turns out, I could’ve just sat down and ordered at the counter since I wanted to eat there. Lesson learned! If you want to eat there, sit down at the counter and someone will come by and help you. If you want to grab and go, you should order your sandwich in line.
DiNic’s is known for their roast pork sandwich, and I certainly know why now! When you order, you have a choice of cheese (provolone or nah), greens (broccoli rabe or spinach), and/or peppers (hot or sweet). You can get one topping, two toppings, or all of it. I got a roast pork sandwich with all the fixings: provolone, broccoli rabe, and hot peppers.
If you get this sandwich, I highly recommend getting the broccoli rabe (not the spinach!), especially if you get cheese. Why? Broccoli rabe provides your sandwich with a balance of flavor. You have the sweetness from the juicy, fatty pork, and when you add cheese, you get the slightly salty and nutty flavor from the provolone while adding some more richness to the sandwich. The broccoli rabe balances out your sandwich because its slight bitterness cuts through the sweetness and richness of your meat and cheese, and the crunch adds a good textural component. Add in the peppers if you want that extra spicy kick to your sandwich! I would argue (despite not having tried it yet) that the spinach wouldn’t be as good because it doesn’t provide the same balance that broccoli rabe does. I’m sure it’d still be good, but it’s not quite as good as the broccoli rabe.
So I polished off that sandwich with a small cup of ice-cold root beer (best soda ever)! DiNic’s is particularly popular during lunch, so the lines get super long. Don’t let that deter you though because they are super fast and efficient, getting you in and out quickly so you can eat instead of spend all of your lunch time waiting in line. And to answer the question a bunch of friends have asked since they heard I’ve now had both the roast pork and the cheesesteak: I prefer the roast pork. GASP!
After a super filling lunch, I wandered over to the LOVE sculpture. What’s the significance of this sculpture? Honestly, I have no idea hahaha. I did some research and learned that it was originally a piece of printed art created by Robert Indiana that was later made into a sculpture displayed at the Indianapolis Museum of Modern Art. Now there are dozens of versions of it all over the world, and this one happens to be one of them. I guess it’s just a cool piece of pop art! If you’re visiting Philly soon and want to see this, do note that they’ve moved the sculpture from LOVE Park/John F Kennedy Park to Dilworth Park because they’re currently doing renovations to JFK Park until 2017. Anywho, it’s a popular art piece, so I had to wait for others to finish before I took my own (awkward) photo.
What next?! I honestly had seen most of the big historical things I wanted to see (Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Declaration House, etc), so I was a little stumped. Then I remembered that I had stamped my book the other day for the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial. Let me explain a little about the stamp book, in case you’re unfamiliar with it. The U.S. National Park Service has a fun program where you can get a stamp (called a “cancellation”) when you go to a park, monument, or special site within the National Park Service program. These things/places are considered national treasures (like Independence Hall. Get it? NATIONAL TREASURE?! :P), so they’re funded and protected by the NPS. It’s a fun way to get to see and keep track of these special places when you travel from state to state.
Anyway, for Philly, they have a couple of these cancellation stamps, and you can get them at the Independence Visitor Center. There are 10 stamps available there, but I only got stamps for places I would be capable of visiting without a car (because otherwise, I’d feel like I was cheating haha). I had gotten a stamp for the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, so I’d feel guilty if I didn’t go and see it, even just for a couple of minutes. I also desperately needed to get out of the heat and sun because I made the mistake of wearing pants and combat boots today. I’m sure any cuteness from my outfit was cancelled out by the sweatiness…
The Benjamin Franklin National Memorial is located inside a building that also houses The Franklin Institute, a science museum. Intrigued, I snapped a couple of photos of the Franklin memorial statue, then wandered over to check out this science museum. I was a little skeptical at first since it seemed like it was just for kids, but honestly, it was a lot of fun!
I bought a ticket for general admission into the museum, but I also bought an IMAX movie ticket to see “National Parks Adventure”. If you’re into the whole nature, hiking/backpacking, and exploring thing, you’ll like this movie. It’s just 45 minutes of pretty nature shots from various national parks in the US. Don’t really expect much of a story line because there isn’t one. The whole movie is just about how John Muir of California wrote to Theodore Roosevelt because he wanted to protect specific areas to preserve the natural beauty of the land, thus forming the National Park Service. I personally really liked the movie because the gorgeous cinematography inspires the desire to go explore all of these places. The movie is also narrated by the soothing voice of Robert Redford, so it was a relaxing 45 minutes. Only could’ve been better if they had gotten David Attenborough to narrate, but I’m sure they wanted an American voice to talk about the national parks ahaha.
The rest of the museum is really cool! It’s definitely designed mainly with kids in mind, but I had a good time walking around checking out all the different exhibits. My favorite bits of the museum were the sports section, the brain exhibit, and the heart exhibit. Those were the most interactive and most interesting. Check it out:
If I had to choose, I’d definitely say this museum was more interesting than the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. Does this mean I have the mind of a child…? XD
Once I finished up at the museum, it wasn’t quite time for dinner yet, so I biked over to Reanimator Coffee for an afternoon iced coffee and a chocolate chip cookie. Between Reanimator and La Colombe, I think La Colombe has the superior coffee. At least, I liked the flavor of La Colombe’s ice coffee better—nice toasty, nutty flavor.
Then it eventually became dinner time (and the coffee shop closed so I had to leave…), so I biked over to Pizza Brain. Unfortunately, they were still closed from the other day because their water pipes broke 😦 Second time I’ve tried getting pizza now, only to be filled with disappointment. Sad face!
No worries though. I always manage to find a good food spot. In place of pizza, I ended up getting Vietnamese food at Thanh Long Restaurant. Honestly, this was probably for the better. I’m used to cooking a lot at home, so my meals are generally much lighter fare than what I’ve been dining on for the past week and a half. A bowl of bun bo hue (spicy beef noodle soup) was exactly what I needed.
While it was super hot outside, the light and spicy broth was the perfect meal because it was super flavorful and filled me up without making me feel too heavy. Besides, I learned a while ago in Korean culture, you often eat hot and spicy foods when it’s super hot to help cool yourself down. The thought behind it is you sweat, and sweat promotes cooling, so win-win: delicious food AND cooler body. So did it work? I don’t remember now, but I do remember that I very much enjoyed my meal 🙂 I gotta say though, this part of Kensington is a little sketchy looking, but I think that’s because any area underneath a bridge is always shady (Get it? Shady? Underneath a bridge is covered in shadows…? XD). Anyway, make sure your bike is locked up properly!
And now I’m here, writing this blog post to you. Hope you enjoyed my retelling of events for the day! I’ll post things from days past, and I still owe you that comprehensive summary of Pittsburgh! My days are a little less busy now, so I should be able to type that up soon enough. Until next time, leave me your comments, suggestions, and critiques below in the comments 🙂