Day 3 (June 8, 2008) Philadelphia and driving to New York


We will visit Historical Park by the morning. Everything we want to see is concentrated there: the first American Bank, the Carpenter’s Hall, … As highlights we have the Independence Hall – which tickets must be got first in the Visitor Center - and the Liberty Bell visits. Then, once in the car we would drive to downtown and park somewhere there, close to the City Hall, in Market St., to watch the building and church and skyscrapers. As we are not going to get into any of these places it should be a quick tour in order of being able of leaving the city with time enough as per lunching in New York in a less than 2 hours’ drive.

Philadelphia map   The spots marked at map are:

 0- Hotel
Confort Inn Downtown Hist and Benjamin Franklin Bridge
 1- Independence National Historical Park
 2- Philadelphia Museum of Art

   I’ve got a map with the route I want to follow in order of reaching Manhattan Island through the Brooklyn Bridge, just after a stop on a park in Brooklyn Heights with great views of Manhattan riverside. Two Bridges seems a good area for great views too, but I haven’t located any place there. Then we will drive through Brooklyn Bridge because we’re not going to go to this bridge by walking on the next days. Once in Manhattan, we will drive to the Upper Side where there is our hotel and deliver the women in there while I’m delivering the car at Hertz office. Then, we can spend the afternoon to explore Central Park as it is Sunday, the day the park have more live.

   All visits for this day are free admittance.


   We go out from the hotel at 10:00. The bridge views from the room were even better this morning. This day can be hotter than yesterday too, if that’s possible. We go upstairs to take a bridge. This is another bridge, it is not over the river but it’s just the pedestrian pass over the highway. From there we take the picture at right because the grey building at left is the hotel, so now you can understand the views to the bridge.

Benjamin Franklin BridgeHotel in Philadelphia

   Our elevated pass way connects to Market St. The tables outside of bars are full. There are a lot of people everywhere and the atmosphere is festive. This city seems lively. Maybe is because today is Sunday and it is like this all Sundays. We can see Christ church in our way and three blocks later we’ve reached the Historical Park. We’re surrounded by the oldest buildings of the recent United States history. Around big areas of grass we can see the Visitor Center in front of us and the Independence Hall at left. To the top of that building climbs Nicolas Cage inVisitor Center of Historical Park “National treasure”. Our first step is going in front to get the entrance tickets to the left. We get for 11:45h and we’re told we must be on security control 15 minutes before that time. There is no too much time, so we go directly to there, under the burning sun. Aren’t there any clouds in this country?. We join to the row for security control, which is under a marquee and, once inside, there is one more row, this time is for the tour into the building, but it is not our turn. Our time is for the next one. So we have time for taking pictures around that closed area without leaving the shadow of the trees. The good part of having assigned a specific time is you don’t have to concern about the row, which is under the sun. Looking the people around I have the feeling the tourism in Philadelphia is more internal. I mean, the details of the United States Declaration of Independence have been studied by every person since they’re a child, so it’s logical they’re more curious about seeing the places of such known facts.

Detail of Independence HallRoom at Independence Hall

   Once inside we’re seated in a room with a big painting and a ranger explains the facts took place in this building. The painting is showing the moment of the Declaration of Independence’s signature and appear a lot of people whom the guide has just proposed to us to name. The group, mainly from different parts of USA are saying names which, the most of them, I never heard before. Then we’re driven to two halls: the one where they met and the one where they signed, and that’s all. We’re explained some details of the building, as the architect’s obsession by symmetry which made him to put two chimneys on the same room, for example. I hoped to see the original document here, but we’re shown just a replica, which I will be able to look closer on the gift store, where there are a bunch of them.

Independence HallFirst American bank

   We go out from there at keep the left to Carpenter’s Hall, which I don’t know what it is, but it is what you can see on picture below at left. All this area looks nice and different because these buildings with old dark red bricks and people dressed as in times of yore walking around the park. We pass by the first American bank – the one in the picture above at right – and then the second bank. We can see also trams looking ancient, but with hidden modern wheels and calash with tourists. It’s a short walk coming back to Independence Hall entrance as the place with the Liberty Bell is just along with it. Another security control, air conditioning, an exhibition with displays about the famous bell and a row for posing with the bell for a picture is what you can find in this place.

Carpenter's HallLiberty Bell

   Our tasks here are done now, so we go into Visitor Center just for walking that block with the benefit of its fresh air in our way back to the hotel. Once in the street again, it looks much more crowded than usual and we can hear somebody shouting through megaphone which sounds as some kind of fanatic, even before understanding what he is saying. When we reach the people we can see some banner with messages as “Christ can set you free”, “God will punish you” or “Homosexuality is sin” and the guy in the megaphone is actually performing a sermon by shouts… Leave me alone, please! Both sides of street are really crowded and people have not come here to hear the sermon under this terrible heat. We soon understand it’s going to be a parade in there as police is closing traffic on this street, so we look for a place in the shadow. The parade comes and we understand soon what is all that about: drag queens, big rainbow flags, two-father families… This is gay proud parade! We stand here to see a big part of it.

Gay proud paradeReligion vs gays

   They’re throwing gifts to the public and we get one of them. It’s a cardboard box emulating leopard skin. We can find inside one small bottle of lubricant and some condoms, how thoughtful of them! May be we would be there until the end if the heat was bearable, but it is not. So we take our way back to the hotel. We can see some press boxes on our way, you must insert coins to open it and take the newspaper, but the front page can be seen from outside and all of them are coinciding in the same subject: the terrible heat. At least, it seems it’s something exceptional.

   We’re in the car at 14:00h and I think I have a clear picture of the way to take: if I follow the known Market St. I reach the City Hall. As we’re not on time due to the time spent on the parade we’re not going to park, but rounding the building from the car. Then, from the City Hall I want to take Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, an avenue ending at the Art Museum. We still will be able of having our Rocky moment.

   The City Hall is a beautiful building and we take several photos of it from the car, as the one below at left, and then I take Benjamin Franklin Pkwy as expected, but just for a few meters as some police bikes are closing the street to cars, so we’re diverted. Another accident today? We must find an alternative route and I use the map to find a way of taking this avenue several meters forward. I get lost a little bit, but I find the way quick, this street is the good one, so we should get into the avenue, but it is closed by police too at this point. What the hell is this?!! A conspiracy for preventing us from our Rocky momentum?! But some meters later we can find the reason of all what is happening: There is a huge stage set just in front of the museum and all the area is closed for that event. Therefore, if we want do silly things there, one, today is not going to be that day and, two, we’ve been doing enough silly things already. Get the butt out of here.

Philadelphia City HallPhiladelphia Downtown


           But it seems our butts want to keep in Philadelphia as leaving the city becomes to a hell for us, with all the closed streets and the fact I’m driving out of the map I’ve got what we get is a great, but long, city tour. We can take close pictures of the skyscrapers but we cannot leave. I
Good bye, Phillido it again! We’re not going to lunch in New York as we pass by the hotel some hours later than picking the car, what an irony!. We could see the gay proud parade but with a big price in time.

   It’s clear too we’re not going to visit Central Park today. Fortunately, I’ve got a plan B for it: visiting it on Wednesday, the day of the museums which, actually, are around there.

   When I check we’re on the right way we stop for lunching in a KFC/Taco Bell on a side of this highway: 18$ for all three lunches. Ten times less than yesterday’s dinner! That’s some minutes past 15h and then, we drive direct to New York City.

   We pass over out “loved” Verrazano Bridge and get into Brooklyn. We get stuck in a traffic jam in an area with works, but I can follow the indications in my map and in the streets to reach the beginning of Brooklyn Bridge but I turn as I don’t want to take the bridge yet as we want to watch Manhattan island from here. I’ve missed the way to Brooklyn Heights but I’m in “Two Bridges“ area, so I park for a few minutes and go to look for place with an open view. I find a small railing door to some vegetation and we get into a park. It results to be a perfect place, with Brooklyn Bridge at left and Manhattan Bridge at right. The picture used as header for these pages are taken there and the one below too, although to the other bridge.

Manhattan BridgeBrooklyn Bridge

   I do this part right, just now I must deliver the car. We get Manhattan using Brooklyn Bridge, which looks like the picture above when you’re driving through it, then I connect to the FDR Drive, which is the highway they have rounding the island, trying to avoid looking to the river views at right as I must avoid the potholes in the road. One thinks already know New York from all the amount of images seen of this city, but there are some new feelings. The city looks with a classic atmosphere, on despite of the buildings could be labeled as modern, but it is like all of them were there for a long time.

Queensboro Bridge

   I indeed get to the hotel by using one of the roads across Central Park they have, from East to West. I thought we could see something of the park on our way, but the road is completely isolated between walls. We check in and I go quickly to deliver the car, glad of the Hertz office to be so close. I’ve been the whole way within the city looking for a gas station, but I couldn’t find any, so I’m going to deliver the car with a quite empty tank. So they charge a whole tank by twice the fuel price in the stations so I end paying 492$ for these three days. We’ve covered 542 miles, although that has no cost as we were on unlimited mileage option.

   The room at hotel is nice, bigger than the standard of this city but smaller than the one in Washington or Philadelphia. The building seems quite old, like all of them around here.

   It is dark when we’re out for a walk. I think about reaching Columbus Square, but it is quite far and we just turn round after three blocks down. We need to be careful when counting blocks for distances as the blocks here are rectangular (very rectangular), therefore, it’s not the same counting them horizontal than vertical. Vertically, the blocks are shorter than the typical ones in Europe, somehow, in horizontal, they’re even three or four time longer than ours.

   We’re tired and tomorrow is going to be a long day so we decide come back to the hotel, but stopping on a typical grocery store for buying something for dinner at our room. Somehow, that store is a lot more than what we suspected from outside. It is huge and full of products in all its narrow aisles. I can say cannot be put a single box of anything else in there. The surprise is finding absolutely everything in there and from everywhere. When we get into the cheese section we get shocked as it looks as the cheese paradise. Like if it was a museum we can see hundreds of different kinds of cheese and, as it was a museum, they’re displayed by countries. And there are all of them!! I can read all the Spanish cheeses I know and some I don’t. Although it’s difficult to choose I finally take a spicy one from Rome and a Danish one looking as Hervati. I dream since them with being alone on that place, with all the cheeses for me.

   Some sandwiches, yogurts, fruit, cookies, etc… A cheap shopping which let us have a reserve of food in the room.