The Scent of an Old City

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Trip to Philadelphia, during probably the coldest weekend I’ve ever experienced in US east coast. Having forgotten to bring my hair dryer, I had to start my days in Philadelphia with wet hair, which were to freeze within less than 5 minutes. Walking straight was even hard due to the strong, icy, cutting cold wind that blew from the opposite direction. The winds occasionally blew with heavy (nearly blinding) snow. To summarize how my trip was, I would say it was cold, windy, snowy and yet again, cold. But even the worst weather did not prevent me from becoming immersed into the attractions of Philadelphia. The impression I got from Philadelphia, especially in comparison to DC, was the scent of an old city.

Full of historical buildings, places with incredible importance in American history, along with many museums that preserve paintings and sculptures, Philadelphia was a city that showed the traces of time without any alterations. The Old City district in Philadelphia was where all the historical places and artifact were congregated: Independence Hall, The Liberty Bell, Franklin Court, Carpenters Hall, the first and second bank of United States, Penn’s Landing and also, the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. After 4 hours in bus, the first place my friends and I visited was the Penn’s Landing. It was where William Penn set his first foot in 1682, where the history of Pennsylvania began, and where we started our 3 days trip in Philadelphia. The Benjamin Franklin Bridge was also visible from the Penn’s landing.

Liberty Bell, the highlight of the trip to Philadelphia, was actually quite smaller than I had thought. Before seeing the bell through my own eyes, I somehow imagined that the bell would be grand, relating to its importance and great significance as an emblem of freedom and liberty, the most upheld values in the United States. It was there, a cracked small bell, yet it had still influenced so many people who fought for liberty and their right as human beings that changed and shaped the world we live today and continues to do so. With the solemn aura of the Liberty Bell, The Liberty Bell Center evidently showed the American pride for their shared values of liberty and equality, history and national pride. The similar atmosphere could be felt in the Independence Hall and the Franklin Court. Philadelphia was the initial capital of United States for 10 years, before Washington DC was established and became the national capital city. Such significant political decisions were made at that very hall and court of Philadelphia that shaped the national identity of the United States. The old capital was then substituted by a new one, and this significance was what reinforced my feelings of this trip, travelling from DC to Philadelphia, as travelling from a shiny bright city to an old, historical, archaic one. There were also horse carriages offering a city tour, standing on one side of the road, making the area all the more historic. For a while, I felt as if I have been travelling not in 2015 Philadelphia, but in 18th century Philadelphia.

The Center City, Museum Districts were also places that were memorable and attractive. The Center City reflected the vitality and vigor of bustling city and people, which could be felt especially in the Reading Terminal Market. On the Valentine’s Day, all 6 of us took our first group photo in front of the LOVE sign in the LOVE Square (everyone else who took photos there apart from us were all couples… ). The day we visited the Museum District was the coldest day throughout our entire trip, so we tended to huddle inside the museum, avoiding going outdoors as much as we could.

The 3 day trip in Philadelphia was not short, yet there were places that made us want to visit again when the weather gets warmer. Though sometimes cold weather can do us some good (Snow Day!), these days I cannot stop wishing for spring to come. And when the spring finally comes, the first thing I’ll do would be to go visit as many places in DC as I can.

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