Monday, July 16, 2012

To Philly, With Love

Woo!  What a weekend!  On Friday we climbed into the back of a stranger's van, spent time in two drinking establishments, ate giant cookies, and slept in a different stranger's apartment, and then we were attacked by cake...what's that?  I should back up?  Right.

Well, we went to Chinatown Friday afternoon planning on catching the next bus to Philly, only to find there weren't any Chinatown buses going to Philly.  Actually, there was an unsettling reduction in the numbers of Chinatown buses at all.  We were mystified.  Till an Asian man asked us where we were going, and motioned that we should follow him.  Surely the bus station had just moved, and he was herding uninformed clients!  Except instead of leading us down a block and around a corner to the familiar sight of big, white buses surrounded by a swarm of travelers-on-the-cheap, he walked over to a silver van, slapped the hood a few times, and opened the door for us.  We froze.  Really?

Yes, really.  When the bus stations were shut down after one too many un-commercial licensed drivers wrecked en route, the enterprising entrepreneurs behind the buses started running bootleg vans back and forth between Philly and New York.  Well, the van was full save our two seats.

"There's seven of us and one of him.  If he tries to kidnap us, we can take him!" The husband was still leary, but between the two of us we had the asking price in cash...and no other way to make it to our airbnb reservation.  We forked it over and climbed in...and walked directly from the bus station we were dropped off at to our favourite wine bar.  Well, that's what I wanted to do.  Instead we got in touch with our host, checked out the studio apartment we were staying the night in, thankfully just across the street from said wine bar, marvelled at his dvd collection, exchanged pleasantries, and not a moment too soon I was sipping eiswein and nibbling truffled egg on brioche toast.  Thank.  God[dess]. 
After our refreshing late lunch (early dinner), we took a stroll through a part of town we missed on our last trip, googled a place that specialized in late night cookie cravings, snuck in to a bar to go to the bathroom, pigged out on said cookies, and returned to said bar for a couple local, craft pints.  We selected a classic from the collection before we turned in, and then slept the sleep of the exhausted just.
 Saturday began with a lively discussion about where to get brunch, a perfectly creamy Italian cappuccino, and a generous serving of guacamole (at the same place!!). 
 We took off for the Mutter Museum, which is awesome and fascinating, or horrifying and nauseating, depending on how you feel about dead bodies.  I'm of the awesome and fascinating frame of mind, but after the soap lady, and the world's most horrifyingly distended large intestine, I was ready to return to the wall 'o skulls to still my beating heart before heading to lunch.  So many Civil War amputations!
We walked to Fairmount, got a sandwich, and awaited quite possibly the silliest reenactment ever.  A caberet-hosted, historically laughable version of the French Revolution; most awesomely, the storming of the Bastille, with the part of the Bastille played by the Eastern State Penitentiary.  And if you thought having Joan of Arc, Napoleon, and Benjamin Franklin on the same stage taunting Marie Antoinette was fun, I should add that Marie Antoinette was played by a gentleman, and several watermelons were chopped via guillatine along the way.   And there was beer!
Which was nothing compared to what happened after Marie uttered her slightly altered famous line.
"Let them eat tastycake!"

And the air was full of falling snack cakes, which soft and tender though they are, are still pretty effective projectiles.  Not surprisingly, the mob lost their fire for the revolution once their mouths were full of cake, and the actual taking of the Bastille via squirt gun, and subsequent decision NOT to decapitate the queen due to excessive liability, were taken in stride.
We moved on down the street for a burger, took a loooooong walk to Philly's beautiful train station to make our bolt bus reservation, and were ensconced again in Brooklyn by midnight.
So what happens when you get spontaneous?  When you decide it doesn't matter if a hotel would be more romantic, and forget to make a reservation for transportation?  You get blinded by science, and smacked in the leg by a flying tastykake, that's what, and I'm telling you, it's the trip of a life time.  Put it on your calendar now.

Live Omily,

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