Philadelphia: a city I liked more than cream cheese

Philadelphia was next, just a two-hour bus ride from New York. At five days, it was the longest stint of anywhere on the trip after a friend told us there were hammocks by the river. We were sold, and within a day were already planning to move there.

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We stayed in Fishtown, known to locals for being madly trendy and fun at a weekend. Like much of Philly, it was strangely sparse but full of life after about 6pm. Our wonderful Airbnb hosts were Jensen and Tim, an actor and a nurse. They welcomed us into their home with love and two sensational dogs, Baby and Fin.

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Despite an invitation to Philly’s best drag night, New York had tired us out, so we headed to the nearby Northern Liberties suburb for dinner and had a Thai dinner that I’m still thinking about a month later: the vegan salad itself was admittedly uninspiring, but Circles served it lathered in a spicy peanut dressing so creamy and rich, with a kick better than Beckham’s, that I ordered it again a few evenings later.

On Friday morning, we brunched at Sabrina’s Cafe in Bella Vista, Philly’s Little Italy. Feeling fresh and sitting in the sunny street underneath the trees, I had bacon, eggs and coffee while Kev tackled a huevos rancheros extravaganza. To our left, two ageing ladies were powering through a bottle of Stolly, taking advantage of Philly’s BYO tradition with virgin Bloody Marys on tap. To our right, a recovering alcoholic told his woeful story very loudly to his friend. It all made sense.

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We covered most of the city on foot that day, strolling through the Old City to all the historical landmarks and even hitting up a chemistry museum for Kevin. An old couple approached us, asking where a particularly famous ice cream parlour was, and Kevin shed real tears after telling them she didn’t know. Upon finding said parlour five minutes later, she stifled a horribly audible sob.

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Jensen told us to come down to Woody’s, a huge club in the city’s Gayborhood where all the road signs in the area are marked with a rainbow. After stumbling across a mesmerising drag contest, we found Woody’s and proceeded to have the funnest, sweatiest night in years. Americans serve gin and tonic as a pint, by the way, and Jenson, who worked there, served them for free. The next day was difficult.

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That evening, we recovered with fro-yo and a veggie sub at Campo’s in the old city before returning to Fishtown for a couple of beers at Bottle Bar East, a genius spot that offers a full bottle shop service within a bar.

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We retraced our steps on our final day, perusing the historical sights and sounds. When it came to take the bus on to Washington, it was with a heavy heart that we left our new favourite American city.


 

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