I only had a few hours on my last day in Philadelphia before I had to hop on a plane back home to Atlanta. I still had a couple of things on my list that I wanted to do before I left. The Reading Terminal Market was right across the street from the Loews Hotel, where I was staying, and I was told I had to go there before I left. I also hadn’t tried a Philly cheesesteak either! I couldn’t go home without being able to say that I ate a Philly cheesesteak in Philly!
After the final meeting with the hotel in the morning, I went back to my room and changed out of my business attire and into tourist attire. I had been walking around the city for two days in dress pants and heels so it was about time I put my shorts and sandals on. So, I headed over to the Reading Terminal Market. It used to be a train station so that’s how it got its name. You walk in and it’s this giant farmers market with just about anything you can think of for sell. The cutest thing was that the majority of the vendors were Amish – like real black dress, bun, and bonnet wearing Amish! Of course
I couldn’t resist from buying something from them. I saw these chocolate cake looking pies filled with crème and my eyes got wide. I asked Deb what they were and she told me they were whoopie pies. I told the Amish lady behind the counter that I wanted two. I justified my purchase by telling myself that they had to be made from all natural ingredients. After all, Amish wouldn’t use anything different…right? I would have bought a half dozen but I knew I needed to get them back on the plane with me.
I had one more piece of business I needed to take care of before I went for my cheesesteak. I wanted to go by the Mill Creek Urban Farm on the west side of town to scope the place out. I’ve got the farm on my radar for the IAMC Volunteer Service Project so I wanted to make sure that it would be suitable before I made my recommendation back to the committee. It’s the cutest little farm – located on a lot of green space in the middle of the city. They grow fruits and vegetables so that the community has access to healthy and affordable foods. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this project works out.
My last stop before the airport was to get my cheesesteak! We went to the infamous Pat’s and Geno’s. Well Deb and her husband went to Pat’s and I went to Geno’s (they are across the street from one another) and the plan was for Deb and I to split each one so that I could compare and see which one was better. Before I went in all alone, Deb gave me the low down on the lingo so that I wouldn’t make an idiot out of myself. I don’t think she realized that no matter how much prepping I get, making an idiot of myself is unavoidable. So I walk up to the window and tell the lady behind the counter that I wanted a cheesesteak without (which means without onions) and… She cut me off mid-sentence and said, “Wrong window, this is fries and drinks.” So I walked to the next window and asked the guy behind the counter “Is this where I order a cheesesteak?” Gruffly he says, “Yeah, whacha want?” So I say, “I want a cheesesteak without onions and provolone cheese.” He says, “Five dollars.” I hand him my debit card and you would have thought I tried to hand him a snake by the look on his face. He said, “Cash only. Strike two!” I pulled my debit card back and gave him my best evil eye and said back to him “Don’t even start with me!” He obviously doesn’t know that southern girls have fire in their blood nor does he know who my daddy is. Luckily I did have cash on me. After I got my ‘steak I walked back over to the “drink and fries” window. Call me crazy but wouldn’t it make more sense to order everything you want and pay at one window instead of two? So, like I said, even though I was coached before hand I still ended up with the big “I’m not from around here” sign on my forehead. With my ‘steak and coke in hand, I walked back across the street to Pat’s to sit and eat with Deb and her husband. I was actually scared for my life for a minute that I would get mobbed and beaten for bringing a Geno’s sandwich over to Pat’s. I think the only thing that saved me was the fact that I did try both and I loudly stated that Pat’s cheesesteak was by far better than Geno’s. And I didn’t just say that to spare my life, it’s true. Pat’s, you got my vote!
I have to admit, there was more to Philadelphia than I expected. It’s a beautiful city with lots of culture and history. I’m glad I’ll be back in September because I barely scratched the surface. I have 3 months to start working on my accent.