05.10.2013 - 05.10.2013
The bus to Philadelphia was leaving already at 7am from 125 Park Avenue just across from Grand Central Station. But our hostel was really close so it took us only 5 minutes to walk in the morning traffic. The bus had air conditioning and Wi-Fi onboard and it was well-needed later today. When we arrived in Philadelphia it was about +30 centigrade, sunny and no wind.
Facts about Philadelphia...
The first Swedish expedition arrived in 1638 to the area we today call Philadelphia. On the west flood bank the New Sweden colony was established with trade marketing place and settlements. During 1650ies Netherland colonizers took control over the area and in 1664 it eventually got concord by Englishmen. The English man William Penn does counts as the founder of the city and the city got formally city rights in 1701. The first American congress was gathered in Philadelphia and 4 July 1776 signed the declaration of independence and in 1787 the American constitution was signed in the city. Temporarily between 1790 and 1800 Philadelphia was actually the capitol city of the United States.
Liberty Bell is a bell in Philadelphia since 1752 and the story about the bell is considered being a myth. The story tells about an old man ringing the bell at the same moment the American congress claimed independency. It’s possible a man did ring the bell in the exact same moment in 8 July 1776 when the citizens gathered for the first reading of the declaration of dependence but there are no proofs of that. When the bell arrived in Philadelphia and was ranged for the first time a crack developed.
The heat hit us when we got off the bus at the first stop at Independence Hall, where the first American congress was seated. Because of the Government Shutdown the Independence Hall was closed so we couldn’t go inside and se the Liberty Bell. But we could still see the bell through a big window. Then it was finally time for breakfast, or rather brunch. It was a huge buffet and you paid after the weight.
Then we were supposed to visit the United States Mint, where all the coins are made in America. The main office is in Philadelphia and a few other offices in the rest of the US. But because of the Government Shutdown it was also closed. Bummer! It would have been fun to see.
We walked on the streets of Philadelphia and came to Elfreth’s Alley – the USA’s first street. The street is about 50 meters long and was created around 1703 and the cobbles still there today are the original cobbles from 1703. Elfreth’s Alley is today a National Historic Landmark and the houses have been kept the way they were when the street was created. After that we walked to Betsy Ross House - the house where Betsy Ross lived. This is the woman according to the history handmade the first United States flag and during that time there were only 13 states. Today Betsy Ross is buried next to her house which today is a museum.
Later we took the bus and drove to Philadelphia Museum of Art and walked upstairs. But the heat made it difficult and sweaty. But from up the stairs you get a nice view over Philadelphia and in front of the stairs there’s a statue of George Washington sitting on a horse. Nearby the museum stood four guys disguised to Ghost Busters. I can only imagine how warm they were in the heat. Even a Sylvester Stallone copy-like was there hoping to earn money by letting people taking their photos.
The bus picked us up later and drove us to Lancaster County and the Amish community there. One buggy ride was included in the price we already had paid for this day-trip. But this buggy ride was big enough for 15 people and the coachman was born Amish but wasn’t anymore. He didn’t even wear typical Amish clothing. What a disappointment. But he was well familiar with the Amish way of living. This is a short version of what he told us during the buggy ride… The Amish children are schooled for 8 grades and after that they start working at home. The youngest son in the family is the one inherit the farm. The rest of the family (in average 7.4 children per family) must leave and start their own families elsewhere. When the Amish people came to Pennsylvania they were about 250 people. Nowadays they are estimated to 300 000 Amish and now living in 30 of the American states.
After the buggy ride we drove to Kitchen Kettle Village, a shopping center in the middle of the Amish area. We ate food, looked around in the shops. Our guide had told us to try out the Amish homemade ice cream, and we did. Both the ice cream and cones were handmade it was the best damn ice cream I’ve ever eaten! At 4pm we gathered at the bus and drove back to New York again. We got off at Grand Central Station and when we passed Bryant Park we noticed a lot of cars, trailers and trucks. We wondered what was happening… and we soon found out. On one of the cars a note was posted “Law & Order”. They were shooting sets for the TV series Law & Order in Bryant Park. We started fantasizing a murder and that we would ask the film crew if we could be walkers-on... haha