Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Philadelphia, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

I’m back in Seattle with some exciting updates, but first a wrap-up of my incredible five weeks on the east coast.

As most of you know, I used to live on and off in Philadelphia and try to spend about a month each spring there because I love it so much.

When I breeze into Philadelphia I cause a lot of disruption in people’s lives -- and pocketbooks. I have been very lucky to keep so many connections and it’s sort of like an extended party each time I show up, filled with happy hours and dinners and sporting events and festivals and anything else that catches my eye. My Phila friends are eternally accommodating of my event planning.

Thursday, April 29 was an event called Dining out for Life which benefits local AIDS organizations. I lunched with a co-worker at Parc, a French bistro on Rittenhouse square. That night I supped with Ben, Katharine, Mike, Erica, and Dan at Mixto, a Colombian/Cuban spot that was fantastic. In a single day I consumed more creatures than probably ever before, including:

  • Escargot
  • Shrimp
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Calamari
  • Mussels
  • Tuna
  • Tilapia
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Beef

I'll do anything for a good cause, especially anything delicious. Sadly no one brought a camera.

Saturday, May 1 was my friend Mike’s birthday, so we went to a Phillies vs. Mets game with other friends Matt and Dory. Mike is a Mets fan and for his birthday they got slaughtered, 11 to 0. We had seats in the direct sun and it was blazing hot but so much fun. After the game we went back to his house for ping pong and cake, then they went out while I went to bed to prepare for our Big Day on Sunday.

Early on in my trip, Mike threw out the idea of a Six Flags trip. Believe it or not I’ve never been to one! So we planned and planned and Sunday, May 2nd finally arrived. Many invites were extended but I was pleased in the end that the group ended up being 5 since we all fit into one car and it was an easy size to wrangle.

With Erica at the wheel and Ben, Mike, Dan and me as co-pilots, we slowly made our way out of the city due to traffic blocks from the Broad Street run. Once out it was a breezy 45-minute drive to Jackson, New Jersey and Six Flags Great Adventure, one of their most impressive parks with the tallest/fasted roller coaster in the world, one of the biggest, fastest wooden coasters in the world, and a few other ‘most’ claims to fame. Here we are just before going into the park. Did I mention it was 90 degrees? They made fun of me all day because I would find any patch of shade and stand in it.

There was a general worry that we’d show up late and be stuck waiting in crazy long lines so that by the end of the day, our $50 tickets wouldn’t have much payout. We were pleased to be wrong and it paid off to go on an early season day (they aren’t even open midweek yet). The longest we waited for any ride was about 20 minutes and we walked right onto most of them. Here Erica and I are, just minutes into the park.

We got on our first coaster at 1 pm and by 6 pm we’d been on 11 of ‘em! It was by far my biggest coaster day ever and I was saturated by day's end. I got gradually woozier after each ride and that night I couldn’t even close my eyes because I got dizzy each time. (I ended up sleeping at a 45 degree angle with pillows propped up behind me.)

Happily we were a very cohesive group with identical goals: roller coasters and food. No one wanted to play arcade games or waste time on piddly carnival-style rides. We went straight for the big-ticket rides like Superman, El Toro, and Kingda Ka. I have to admit, Kingda Ka was my least favorite. It’s the world’s tallest, fastest coaster and shoots you from 0 to 128 MPH in a mere 3 seconds on a JET LAUNCHER. That part was definitely cool, but then you go straight up 456 feet (a 45-story building!) and right back down and you’re done a mere 24 seconds later. If I’d waited more than 15 minutes I probably would have been mad. It doesn't look that tall here but trust me, it feels tall when you're on top of it.

Confidential to anyone going to Great Adventure: do not waste your time on the Dark Knight! It was the worst ride by far and not worth even a 5 minute wait, let alone the 2 hour line they have during peak season.

The Monday after Six Flags started my last full workweek, a struggle of concentration with a zillion distractions and looming deadlines every day. Wednesday was my last official happy hour and, since it was Cinco de Mayo, most people were down for a few drinks. Thursday Adam and Lydia and I went to my favorite BYOB, Melograno, with two bottles of wine I brought back from Argentina. The food and the wine were amazing and couldn’t be overshadowed by our presumptuous waiter who thought we were BFF or the random group of meowing diners behind us. Here we are getting gelato afterward:
Friday was my last day in the office and I treated myself with my favorite tourist activity: Reading Terminal. It was hard because I wanted to eat at so many places but decided on my first love, the Dutch Dining place and their famous turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes. (It will surprise no one that I gained weight in Philadelphia. Don’t hassle me; I’m already working on getting it off.)

Friday was also my last night and a great excuse to throw a party. We called it “Siete de Mayo” and offered some Mexican-inspired snacks, plus the World’s Biggest Pizza. Seriously. I don’t think the picture fully communicates just how ridiculously large it was, but this is the box it came in:

We also got a keg which transported us all back to college parties full of beer pong, flip cup, living room dance parties, silly snafus that drunk people couldn’t stop talking about, and a late-night off-color joke session. Unlike college the house wasn’t trashed and people pitched in without being asked so that we had fully cleaned everything by the time we went to bed.

Saturday was my last day and started with the pleasant chance to sleep in, followed by La Colombe coffee, pancakes, and bacon that Lydia lovingly prepared. I packed my bags and then Adam and I headed down to Passyunk square to drink margaritas before my flight. US Airways charged me $120 for my one-way, non-stop ticket. Once at the airport I had to pay $27 for my first bag, $37 for my second bag… and $50 for being 8 pounds over the weight limit. D’oh! Almost as much on luggage as the ticket itself. I spoke too soon since not two days before I was bragging about how being nice had kept me from ever having to pay overage fees before. It was still cheaper than shipping it, though, and I was pleased to pay it knowing it is the last time that I will ever have to travel with that much baggage EVER AGAIN.

I am so relieved at the thought of staying put, and when I decide to travel, packing a small suitcase and leaving for short(er) periods of time like a normal person. I move into my digs on Saturday so just a few more days of living out my giant suitcases at my parents’ house left, but it’s so great to be able to spend this time with them so the suitcases aren’t phasing me (too much). The mere thought of having all my worldly belongings in one space for the first time in my adult life makes me giddy, and it’s going to be a reality inside of a week. I can’t wait to unpack.

Seattle updates soon… but first, a special shout-out to my favorite east coast pet and roommate, Clarence. This is the sweetest dog and I miss his antics already.


Erica said...

It's always wonderful having you back in town!! :)

Bradly said...

I love Six Flags! I'm so happy that things are going well for you here in the USA. :-) Let's be in touch!! besos