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Other than my tragic airport experience at the end of June, I had never been to Philly. Dianna had a double layover which made it worth me tagging along, so I did. It was the first time I’d been on a flight that Dianna was working and it goes without saying that I got special treatment.

Philadelphia has a wonderful mix of historical significance and modern architecture, and it has catapulted itself into one of my favourite US cities.

I managed over 50,000 steps in 48 hours which will hopefully mitigate the calorific intake of the Philly Cheesesteaks.

Philadelphia was the first US capital and it was where the first Continental Congress met in 1774 (when the colonies weren’t happy with King George lll), the house where Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence and of course Independence Hall where the 56 delegates effectively signed their death warrants.

Other highlights of the city which I found interesting were Ben Franklin’s grave, Liberty Bell, the house where Betsy Ross sewed the first American Flag with 13 stripes and 13 stars (arranged in a circle), and City Hall which is a truly magnifique building.

On day two, Dianna went off early to work and I trotted off to see what I could find. I headed for the Rocky Statue and the Rocky Steps and ran up (at a moderate speed) listening to Gonna Fly Now from the movie. There was a homeless person with boxing gloves, willing to take photos. I thought it was incredibly enterprising of him.

At the top of the steps stands the Philadelphia Museum of Art and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Whistler’s Mother as well as many other paintings. It wasn’t crowded at all (unlike the Hermitage in St Petersburg which was hellish), and it knocked the spots off the Guggenheim in New York. I could have spent the whole day there.

Prior to that I’d popped in to the Rodin Museum which was much smaller but still impressive. I do like a bust.

After the museums I headed for the Eastern State Penitentiary which was one of the most notorious prisons in the world. Al Capone spent a year there in 1929. It became the model for 300 prisons around the world and operated from 1829 to 1970. Prisoners were required to be silent and were kept in solitary confinement for most of the time. No bunk beds! There was an interesting film presentation about the American penal system and how the number of inmates in American prisons has escalated in the last four decades. 5% of the world’s population; 25% of the world’s prisoners. I walked back to the hotel to meet Dianna and informed her that I’d just got out of prison.

We headed out to Independence Hall and had $1 tickets for the 3:40 admission. Our tour guide on the 20 visit had far more enthusiasm than talent, however we were able to see the two significant rooms in the hall where the “dissent” was finalised.

Our evening repast on both evenings were taken in Irish Pubs – the first having the best food and the second the best atmosphere. The second, McGillin’s was the oldest bar in Philly dating back to 1860 – a year before the American Civil War started.

A wonderful trip with super weather, good food, great company and even a trip to Primark (Dianna had never been). Apparently they are in 18 US cities across 8 states. Who knew!

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