Philadelphia…Whoever created that city created a place where I had one of the most amazing days I’ve had since I came to the US. The weather was awful, most of the places we wanted to visit were closed and finding the right place where to eat the legendary cheese steak was a long and painful journey. However, my mind is now full of unique memories and it is only because I had the chance to go there with the most amazing group of people someone can meet. But I’m getting ahead of myself! Let me give you a detailed description of my day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
At 6:45 AM sharp, my friends and I all met at the Foggy Bottom metro station. It was freezing (actually, I thought it was freezing but it wasn’t until later during the day that I discovered the real meaning of the word “freezing”), everybody was both excited and incredibly sleepy and we were running late since our bus was leaving in less than 30 minutes. Therefore, we chose the safest solution and took a cab to Union Station. As soon as we were on that bus, comfortably seated (seriously, those seats are incredibly comfortable!) and in a warm environment, every single one of us fell asleep, forgetting for a couple of hours about the excitement the trip was causing us and surrendering to the sweet call of Morpheus’ arms. After we arrived and had a nice breakfast in some cozy diner (best waffles ever!), we all went to see the famous Liberty Bell. We all had heard about it from different TV Shows or American friends as it is a big part of the American history. So, we all were expecting some kind of huge bell with this crack that has such an exciting story behind it. However, we ended up seeing a fairly sized bell with a crack that has absolutely no “deep” meaning behind it. But still, we saw the Liberty Bell! We weren’t as ignorant to the American history as we were half an hour before. Anyway, we then went to discover the Independence Hall and learned more and more about the American history. However, it was ironic to see that 90% of the people visiting those same places were actually Americans. This made me realize that Philadelphia is more of a city where Americans can learn about their own history rather than a place that tourists can visit. However, I still was happy to learn more about my host country’s history.
Anyway, right after Independence Hall, we were all really excited to go see the US mint! At least, we were excited up until the moment we realized that it was closed for renovations and was not going to be open again until summer (in other words, after our departure from the country). However, we weren’t going to let this news ruin our day. We took the metro (which is by the way a lot more efficient than the one in DC) and headed towards 15th street where we were supposed to find the best cheese steak in the country. Turns out the cheese steak places were located on 9th Street. It was getting colder and colder but our motivation was stronger than anything else. We ate what turned out to be a delicious sandwich and headed to see the last and most important thing: the Rocky Stairs!
We couldn’t feel our legs anymore, we wanted to sleep and it was now snowing. But Rocky was waiting for us (or at least its statue)! We walked for an hour and finally saw the legendary stairs. I personally couldn’t believe we finally made it. So, we all ran those stairs, feeling stronger than ever. At the top, one of the most wonderful views that I’ve ever seen was facing us. We took some pictures and headed back to the metro station. However, the snowflakes started to fall faster and faster and the temperature was now 25 degrees (Fahrenheit of course!). So, after we had a hot coffee while we were waiting for the snow to stop, we did the most childish thing ever: snow fight! Turns out our dear Singaporean friends had never seen snow before (who knew it was always summer in Singapore!). For a few minutes, everyone forgot how cold it was, how far away from home we were or how hard each one of us missed his/her family. For a few minutes, we just let go. We received freezing snow balls right on the face, we fell, we smiled and we laughed. These few minutes were absolutely magical.
However, those few minutes almost cost us our ride back to DC. We were too busy playing and forgot that we had a bus to catch! Thank God though; we made it to the bus station exactly 3 minutes before its departure. Was the snow fight worth the risk of spending the night in the freezing train station of Philadelphia? Definitely!