Friday 29 April 2011

Day 26: A walk through Philadelphia

1.  To reach town from the marina, we have to get through an enormous highway.  The easiest way is to turn left and take the overpass that leads into Market Street or Chestnut Street.  Today we turned right, threaded our way through some kind of building work, then followed the monumental Benjamin Franklin Bridge as it slowly lowers itself to ground level.  Here, the highway has an underpass.  In the middle was a type of cardboard tent, which might or might not have contained somebody.  In front of the tent, perched on a crate, were a pristine leather bound black Bible and a stuffed animal that had seen better days.

2.  We found ourselves entering the old part of the city along Race Street.  There is only one problem: it doesn't look particularly old to us, notwithstanding the horse-drawn carriage that was calming the traffic and a single cobbled street.  We slipped into the Synderman Works art gallery on Cherry Street, because we liked the look of it and saw very beautiful things:
Ron Isaacs
Lindsay Feuer and Bonnie Seeman

I still think I'd rather travel than collect art, but I can very much see the appeal of the technique and beauty of these pieces.

3.  We were heading for the Independence National Park area of Philadelphia and started to encounter tourist groups, including a whole party on Segways which amused us both.  We went to the Independence Visitor Center in the hope of starting to get a grip on Philly's rather overwhelming historical sites.  We collected information and ended up learning the meaning of all the symbols on the US seal and some stuff about the Underground Railroad.  After that, Antonia wanted a snack, so we sat around while she wrote a postcard to her old school and I listened to the people at the next table discuss the intellectual merits of the Oprah Winfrey show.

4. We went home on the overpass, past a monument to the Irish immigrants to the US.  On one side of a huge bronze hill, the starving sit raggedly amongst graves and barren land.  As they reach the peak of the hill it transforms into the deck of the ship.  Wide-eyed with joy and suddenly well-dressed, they walk down the gangplank into the land of freedom and opportunity...  We took the opportunity to peek in at our neighbor's living arrangements on our way home.  The Pier 3 marina is less full than ours, but has one very pretty houseboat with a sloping roof.  The apartments behind the slightly weather-worn corrugated metal that faces onto the marina have inner covered courtyards filled with tulips.  And, like many US apartments, they have a lobby with a concierge who gave us a suspicious look through her glass window.

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