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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Walking in the Light and Shadows of Philly

I slept at 2 A.M. last night and took advantage of the fact that we didn't have to wake up early in the morning. I already knew that it was July 4th and wasn't quite excited about the date. I was more excited about the stuff we were going to do. There's a lot to explore in the city and it's very historic so  there's a lot of learning to do. The weather was like a regular day in the Bay Area, in the low 70s, except more humid. 
Everyone met at the lobby and we went off to eat breakfast. Mr. Hillyer took us to the subway which was underneath the city. He said that every ride was $2.25 no matter how close or far we went. We left on 34th Street and our destination was on 2nd Street. The subway felt like there was no ventilation so it was very humid and hot. It looked run down and old but the trains arrived very fast.  Mr. Hillyer found a restaurant called The Continental which was a bar and restaurant. I ordered a Belgian Waffle with seasonal fruit and a side of bacon. I usually don't eat food other than eggs and bread in the morning so this was new to me. The food was refreshing and made me full. Time after time, Mr. Hillyer does not fail to disappoint with food! 

Lucky for us, after we walked out of the restaurant the parade had just started. We stood on the curb watching the parade and got to see the Mayor of Philadelphia, Miss Philadelphia 2015, Miss USA, Miss New Jersey 2015, the police commissioner (who was named Charles Ramsay), and much more. It had started to rain but thankfully the rain was light. It was great to watch the parade because it showed us how diverse Philadelphia was and how special each group was. After watching the parade for about an hour and a half, we walked to Old City in Philadelphia. We went "inside" the structure of  Benjamin Franklin's house and looked under these glass windows and saw remnants of Benjamin Franklin's house. Mr. Hillyer told us that in the colonial times, people had holes dug outside their home in order to use the bathroom and then would cover it. Their version of a plumber was somebody who removed all the waste from the well occasionally. It's nice having a history as our chaperone because Mr. Hillyer told us a lot background information about the buildings. 

Group pic in front of the parade
Independence Hall
Every historical building was within walking distance and it took us at least 5 minutes to walk to another historical building. We went inside the Carpenters' Hall which held the first Continental Congress. Everything was well preserved and there were even people portraying famous leaders from the colonial. I talked to the impersonator, whose name I forgot, and thought that he was Benjamin Franklin. If he was Benjamin Franklin, I was going to say "Can you get me some Benjamins?" but he said that he was not and I could find 18 other Benjamin Franklins on the street. Mr. Hillyer took a group picture of us with him and thanked him for all the things he told us. Mr. Hillyer took us to see the very first national bank of the United States but unfortunately it was not open. I was impressed by how the beautiful the columns were and that they were hand crafted because nowadays most are usually carved by laser. Then we walked to a small courtyard and rested for a little while. The courtyard was dedicated to President Lyndon B. Johnson's wife; it was well maintained and calming. 

Carpenters' House held the First Continental Congress
The bathroom

Mr. Hillyer could see that we were getting hungry so he took us down to the subway and decided to get Philly Cheesesteaks in North Philly. He took us through the subway, which was like a maze, to get to the train that would take us to North Philly. All the subways were very dim and narrow and almost felt like there is no room to stand or sit if it was full. When we got off the station, the Philly Cheesesteak was in front of us. I ordered a mushroom steak with Provolone cheese. We saw how the cooks cooked it and it seemed very simple but making it ourselves is one thing and observing it is another. I remember Mr. Hillyer said that the neighborhoods in Philly change very quickly and while sitting down and eating my cheesesteak, I could see that on the left side there were nice buildings towards City Hall and on the right side the building were run down and abandoned. It was a very eerie sight to see because of the inconsistency. 
An authentic Philly Cheesesteak
We went back to our hotels and rested for the next three hours. Rudy decided to go to the pool to swim while Chiamaka, Jun, Elexis, Justeen, and I decided to have some fun in the fitness room. We pretended to work out but really we were just testing out the equipment and having fun. Everyone met up at 8 P.M. in the lobby and walked from the hotel to the Museum of Art to see the fireworks. We walked towards the food trucks to a large T.V to see the concert which was almost inaccessible.  I wasn't familiar with the bands who were playing in the concert tonight. We waited until 12 A.M. to see the fireworks and it was amazing. But too bad they didn't do a firework that had the American flag because that would have been very awesome and right for the occasion. Right after the fireworks, we walked back and the whole streets were crowded. People kept pushing and shoving each other and drivers were being so aggressive to the point that their cars were on the crosswalk. 
Happy Birthday America

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