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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Celebrating Like It's 1776

After last night’s “blogging party,” we were all exhausted and ended up sleeping at around 1 AM. If we had to wake up early, I think I would’ve died today, so I’m just happy that we were able to sleep in. I ended up waking up 30 minutes later than when I was supposed to wake up, but it’s not much of a big deal because we still got out on time. I just quickly took a shower, and we headed out for breakfast by 10 AM. It was weird getting up and not having to lug our luggage to a shuttle, but I still have to haul it over to UPenn tomorrow.

Septa token
Mr. Hillyer had a lot of plans for us today, so we first went to the Septa train station on 34th street to get to downtown. This train system was pretty straightforward, but once it got to the rest of the stations, that's where it got confusing. The train we rode on was similar to BART, but not quite. Instead of a ticket, we used a token, which was worth $2.25. On the train, it opened and closed the door much faster than at BART, and you only had a few seconds to find a seat or hold on to something because it was going to go whether or not you were ready.

We got off on 2nd street, and we found a restaurant called the Continental. I expected this place to have huge portions because of all the restaurants that I've seen here in the East coast, but they were actually reasonable sized. I ordered french toast with a side of bacon, and I am positive that I made the right choice. Their bacon was cooked to perfection, and their french toast had just the right amount of sweetness. It was delicious.

After breakfast, we walked outside and we were greeted by the sound of a marching band playing on the street. We really do have the perfect timing, because right when we walked out, the parade was just about to begin. There were so many marching bands playing, as well as different groups and organizations walking right behind them. Firetrucks and police cars from different cities were even joining in on the parade. Seeing this actually made me miss home for once, because I would generally watch the parade in Vallejo for the Fourth of July every year. Anyways, while we were all watching and enjoying the parade, it began to rain until around the time it ended. It was truly unfortunate, but the show must go on! This is where I realized that people in Philadelphia, or the East coast rather, were not as energetic as the people in the Bay Area. The only ones cheering and clapping were basically our cohort, but that didn’t stop us from having a good time.

At the parade
Afterwards, we walked around the area. This was such an exhausting walk, but I was able to see all of the beautiful, old buildings that were within walking distance. During the walk, we were able to see the outside of Independence Hall, the First and Second National Bank, Carpenter’s Hall, as well as the remains of Benjamin Franklin’s old house. Being with a history teacher as a chaperone, we even learned a little about each of the buildings. There was so much to see around the city and I was fascinated by how gorgeous these old designs were. We also went to a mall that was nearby and just prowled through the area, even though most of the stores were closed.

Benjamin Franklin's house
Carpenter's Hall
  We were going to head back to the hotel after we had finished touring the places, but instead, we took a detour because everyone was starving. As a solution, Mr. Hillyer took us to one of the Philly Cheesesteak places in North Philadelphia. We took the Septa train again and got off at the Fairmount station. I didn’t know what to expect because I’ve never had an authentic Philly Cheesesteak before, but once I tried it, I fell in love. I know I’ve been saying how much I love everything I’ve eaten these past few days, but what can I say; I love food.

Once we were all full and ready to go, we simply went back to the train station and headed back to the hotel again. It was around 4 PM when we finally made it back to the hotel, and Mr. Hillyer let us relax in the hotel until 8 PM. In the meantime, we just stayed in our rooms and went to the gym to “work out” until it was finally time to head to the concert.

Mr. Hillyer gave us two choices; we either walk the extremely long way to get a good spot for the concert, or we could walk a few blocks and only hear the concert from a distance. Since I was already exhausted from the walk this morning, I definitely did not want to walk from 36th street all the way to 15th, so our cohort went with the easier route. When we finally arrived in downtown Philly, the place was pretty empty. I wasn’t surprised, considering the fact that it was raining yet again.

Once we were neared the location of the concert, we began to see a massive amount of people. We could not even get relatively close to the stage itself, but we were able to find a screen that showed the concert live. Again, the people were not as energetic as us, and it felt kind of awkward, but that was no reason to stop. We were there to celebrate America’s independence, and that’s reason enough to act lively. Honestly, the concert was not as great as I expected. I was probably expecting too much, but none of the performers were known, other than the Roots and Miguel Pimentel. Also, the people were rather rude to us when we were just waiting around and talking with each other. I can definitely see the difference between the people from Philadelphia and the people from the Bay Area, and it was clear contrast.

Keeping ourselves busy while we wait
When we got tired of just standing around in one spot and listening to an unknown artist, we just kept moving around in order to find a good spot where we could just sit down and wait for the fireworks. We thought we would be able to go home by midnight, but the fireworks didn’t even appear until after midnight, so we ended up waiting by the grass for around 3 hrs. Thankfully, we found a patch of grass to sit on next to the Schuylkill (Skoo-gull) River. I know that it is a rather weird name, but according to the people that are from Philly, that’s actually how to pronounce it.

It was around midnight when we finally got tired of waiting for the fireworks, so we left, but right when we started walking, the fireworks went off. Our group has such perfect timing, don’t we? Anyways, after the fireworks, we went started walking back, and encountered even more individuals that were grouchy or rude. Before we went back to the hotel, we stopped by Axis Pizza and grabbed a bite to eat, thus ending the day at 1 AM.

Today was extremely exhausting compared to the other days, but it was also the most fun. I was actually able to explore the city, and the rain wasn’t too much of a hassle compared to the other days. The other days were spent cooped up in either a hotel or an airport, but today, I actually got to explore a lot of different places, as well as celebrate the fourth of July. I didn’t really want this day to end, simply because I enjoyed it too much, and I was actually nervous about moving in to the dorms tomorrow. I’m just worried about whether or not I’d be able to make new friends, or keep up with my Physics class. Tomorrow is going to be a nerve-wracking day, but I am as thrilled as ever. 

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