No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a sourdough bread-bowl filled with clam chowder...
Philadelphia, The One and Only
This U.S. city is a historical jewel. Restaurants, shops, parks and monuments make for an unforgettable travel destination.
There are few cities left in the world like Philadelphia, where you can turn off the highway at ten in the morning, drive down Chestnut Street, turn right and continue on until you reach the Italian market, easily find a parking space, pick up some fresh bread and then return home to the suburbs. All in under a half hour, with no traffic jams or streets clogged with cars: it’s as if time stood still.
The Declaration of Independence was signed in this “City of Brotherly Love,” one of the country’s oldest and most historic destinations. Far from being overshadowed by New York and Washington, D.C, one of Philadephia’s greatest charms is the city’s role as the “poor cousin” tucked right between the two neighboring metropolises.
This spacious, quiet city is filled with tree-lined parks and plazas surrounded by cafés and restaurants, brick lanes and three-story colonial houses that recall certain parts of London. More than anything else, Philadelphia is a familiar place. And a beautiful one. There is water everywhere and, of course, bridges. The Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, which are as wide as small seas, give this historical city an almost coastal air.
Spending a Saturday walking around the tranquil streets of Philadelphia is a fascinating experience. Start your day with a hearty Amish breakfast at Reading Terminal Market, which first opened its doors in 1892 and is now full of stands stocked with chicken, eggs, meat, vegetables, fruit and spices sold by the Amish.
Have a seat at the counter and order a typical Amish breakfast of organic eggs and bacon, homemade whole-grain bread, fresh fruit juice and blueberry pancakes with maple syrup. And don’t miss out on the chance to try a raspberry muffin – they are the best in the world! This substantial meal is served by a woman who is immersed in the customs, religion and practices of the 17th century, with her lace cap and sober dress, like something from the German countryside. Even her English will probably have a notable German accent.
The market is just a few blocks from City Hall, an impressive building that dates back to 1901. Four large avenues join at this marvel. Broad Street is the best option if you want to do some window shopping. Just five blocks down is Locust. One of the most beautiful streets in this part of the city, Locust runs all the way out to Rittenhouse Square, a spectacular spot surrounded by cafés, restaurants and luxury shops. The highlight is the square itself, which is filled with trees and gardens and children, who are always running and jumping between the flowerpots. Just walking around Rittenhouse Square a few times is a great outing.
If you are still nearby at lunchtime, walk one block over to Walnut Street, which is home to a variety of eateries. But there is a huge difference between grabbing a quick meal and dining in style at Lacroix, a restaurant that serves spectacular fusion cuisine on the second floor of the Rittenhouse Hotel, with a view of the plaza. The food is first rate, and the Sunday brunch is a culinary experience that I would recommend to anyone in the world. Diners take their plates to the kitchen and serve themselves oysters, lobster, salmon, pork, wild boar, ham, vegetables and fruit plus a wide array of desserts, all accompanied by champagne. A true feast!
A Bit of History
Philadelphia’s well-organized historical district is easy for visitors to navigate. There are horse-drawn carriages for touring the brick lanes, cobblestone squares and centuries-old buildings where the Declaration of Independence was signed. If you don’t have a lot of time, I recommend taking a stroll around the neighborhood, a peek into the former Stock Exchange – which is located on the same esplanade as Independence Hall – and then just sitting in the square and breathing in the air of history that permeates the stone streets and brick sidewalks.
Philadelphia also has two extraordinary museums: the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rodin Museum. The former boasts a magnificent and unique collection of paintings and is never crowded. The works of art showcased inside as well as the sights outside of the museum make every visit here worthwhile.
The museum complex is located on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, a broad, tree-lined avenue near the river. This imposing building serves as an emblem of Philadelphia. And while it is true that Benjamin Franklin was the city’s most important citizen, it is equally true that Rocky Balboa is the museum’s number one son. No one will ever forget the scene in which Rocky, played by Sylvester Stallone, stands at the top of the museum steps and declares his triumph to the world. The Philadelphia Museum of Art also oversees the Rodin Museum, which holds the largest collection of the artist’s work outside of France.
The museum’s rear exit leads to Fairmount Park, one of the most beautiful green spaces in the city. It sits on the banks of the Schuylkill River where there’s a traffic circle and lots of places to pass the time watching people and the water go by and enjoying a coffee or a meal. The perfect place to spend yet another pleasant afternoon in Philadelphia. in
Where to Stay
$$$ The Ritz Carlton10 Avenue of the Arts www.ritzcarlton.com
$$$ Four Seasons PhiladelphiaOne Logan Square www.fourseasons.com/philadelphia
$$$ The Rittenhouse Hotel210 West Rittenhouse Square www.rittenhousehotel.com
$$ The Latham Hotel135 South 17th Street www.lathamhotel.com
Where to eat
Lacroix at the Rittenhouse:
The famous restaurant in The Rittenhouse Hotel.
Le Bec-Fin: Excellent and relatively pricey French food. Reservations recommended.1523 Walnut Street Tel. 1-215-567-1000 www.lebecfin.com
Amada: Authentic Spanish cuisine.217 Chestnut Street Tel. 1-215-625-2450 www.amadarestaurant.com
La Famiglia: Excellent Italian food.8 South Front Street Tel. 1-215-922-2803 www.lafamiglia.com
Susanna Foo: Elegant Chinese restaurant located in what used to be downtown and is now the suburb of Radnor. Chef Susanna Foo has won many national and international awards.555 East Lancaster Avenue, Radnor Tel. 1-610-688-8808 www.susannafoo.com
What to see
Reading Terminal Market12th Street & Arch Streets www.readingterminalmarket.org
Independence Hall520 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia Museum of Art26th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway www.philamuseum.org
Rodin MuseumBenjamin Franklin Parkway & 22nd Street www.rodinmuseum.org
(arqueología y antropología)3260 South Street www.penn.museum
Rittenhouse Row: This Website offers information on cultural and artistic activities in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood as well as an excellent map of the city.www.rittenhouserow.org
Independence Visitor Center: The city’s office of tourism has all the information that a visitor could need and much of it is available on the Website.www.independencevisitorcenter.com
Vuelos LAN: A Filadelfia todos los días desde Santiago con conexión en Miami.