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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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