New Year’s Trip to PHILADELPHIA | Day 1

It was one of these immediate decisions which go extremely well. On Thursday I bought bus tickets and the next morning I just… left.

Ok, I will be honest with you. The very only morning of all this holiday week when I had to really get up on time, I overslept. Of course. I even don’t remember if my phone tried to wake me up – the only thing which stayed in my memory from this morning is the absolute shock when I opened my eyes, looked at my phone and found out what time it was. I had exactly seventeen minutes to get up, do all the morning necessities like brushing my teeth (of course I skipped breakfast!), finish packing my things (it was total mess), call a cab (the first one even didn’t bother to come so I was crazy with looking for business cards from other cabbies – thanks God I didn’t throw them away!) and get out of the house.

The woman who drove the cab was a little bit crazy driver. Forty-five miles per hour in the most dangerous turn in Briarcliff – that woke me up completely even though I didn’t have any coffee in the morning.

The train was late so I literally flew through the streets of Manhattan from Grand Central to Bryant Park to get the underground to Chinatown, where the bus was leaving from. I don’t think anyone ran these few blocks as fast as I did that morning. And even though I was late, I let my first train go (these 2 minutes between trains couldn’t be big deal, could they?) just to listen to some Chinese music performed by an old man on the weirdest music instrument I’ve ever seen.

Thanks to my sense of directions (and, yes, I admit it, this morning thanks to Waze too) I found the right place pretty quick and in ten minutes the bus was leaving Manhattan, with me aboard, wondering why this wi-fi supports watching movies on some strange website but not videos on YouTube.

We got to Philadelphia! On the Benjamin Franklin’s bridge, I almost dropped a tear – and I don’t know why!

This city had my heart since the very first time I touched its ground

(even it was more like ‘since the wheels of the bus touched the ground’ – but it still counts!). And…

Hunting for a place to stay could start. Yes, I came here without a place to stay. And yes, you can think I’m crazy. And yes, I probably am. But yes, I love it.Very soon I found a very neat hostel – and it came out to be the best place I could stay in. Not only was it right in the center – only 5 minutes walking away from the Liberty Bell – but… Ok, I will write about it later.

So I left my backpack and small at the hostel and went to have some lunch – and what else could I have for lunch in Philly than cheese steak sandwich! And where else than at Jim’s, the most famous sandwich place in this whole city!

It was fabulous. The 45 minutes long waiting in the line was worth it. I’m slightly surprised I was able to order in that noise and rush, but it was probably meant to be (I talk too much again, I know) so I could enjoy my very first cheese steak sandwich in my whole life while watching framed notes and signed pictures from different celebrities who visited Jim’s throughout the history of this place.

Also, on the way from the hostel to Jim’s (Via 3rd or 4th streets) you can see these absolutely adorable brick houses (or whatever it’s called) with differently coloured doors and balconies, with flowers on the windows and dark roofs. I couldn’t believe that people can actually live in those beautiful pieces of architecture and have families there and can walk through these old-looking admirable streets every day. I have to say: I owed them a little bit. Just a tiny, tiny bit… But yes, I did. I was amazed every single meter of my way through these streets. Maybe this is the reason why walking such a short distance took me so much time.

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I was a little bit concerned about the names of two particular streets – Walnut and Chestnut streets. Well, it can seem cute, but they are right next to each other and when you forget which ‘nut’ you live in, you can go directly to the police station and put yourself on the list of the lost ones. You’ll probably never find your way back home again. (I hope you know I’m just joking!) But still – I can be glad they don’t have more ‘nut’ streets – there could be Cashew Street and Pecan Street and whatever more…

By the time I got back to the hostel it was already past 2pm so I could bring all my stuff from the lounge to the room and get a little bit settled. It was, honestly, nice feeling – to know that I have a comfy bed to stay in and don’t have to share benches on Columbus Circle.

And what was next? Firstly, on my way to the very center of the city, I stopped at Benjamin Franklin’s house – where people were trying to find particular rooms in the house according to signs on the ground. And then, I really didn’t have a plan but what else should I do in Philly than to go to see the Liberty Bell? So after maybe 30 minutes in line I got my backpack checked, went through the scan or whatever it’s called and wanted to read everything about the bell – but suddenly, right next to my ear, one of the ‘guardians of the treasure’ yelled so loudly that even people running on the Rocky stairs had to stop and wonder if there was the end of the world or “just” of this city coming: “WE’RE CLOSING IN FIFTEEN MINUTES!” So as most of the other people, I, too, went straight to the Bell.

That was a mistake. So many people… I thought I was gonna die right there. But somehow I managed to take a picture of one very nice woman with her children (remember them – I don’t mention them without a reason!) and then smile to my own camera – when she took a picture of me. I was really tempted to ‘touch the liberty’ – yes, to touch the Liberty Bell, but don’t worry, I didn’t. But with knowing its history (you can find it if you’re interested, I’m not writing the blog to educate you in this way), it was a pretty strong experience.

Just quick peek in the visitor center and I was almost on my way back to the hostel. BUT suddenly I heard somebody calling. I turned that way and – and there was the woman from the Liberty Bell (I told you to remember her) with her children in a carriage and offered me to join them on their way! So I agreed and spent another maybe 45 very nice minutes with them. And just to put even more coincidence in (even though I don’t believe in coincidence, it was just work of the Universe, our God or whatever/whoever you believe in), the lady who drove the carriage (or the horse? I have no idea how it’s correct), her husband was from Czech republic! And what more – his name is Václav Berousek – and yes, it is the (in Czech) famous circus Berousek and yes, as a child I was in that exact circus!

When the ride through the historic part of Philadelphia was over, the woman gave me her contact with words: “We live in Colorado, if you ever wanted to visit Colorado,…” I was surprised – in this world, how many people trust to someone they met that day so much to invite them to their home? She had the same feelings because right after this question came to my mind, she said:

“I’m surprised you trusted us to get in the carriage with us.”

– Yes, I know, you, guys, may think I’m not careful enough (my grandma would have a heart attack if she knew that) – but it’s actually very liberating and it feels very, very good to sometimes try to trust people!

I then said my feelings about her trusting me – I’ll make her explanation short here: she went to work to Europe when she was my age and she just somehow trusts young girls exploring our world and themselves (yes, when you are travelling, you somehow explore yourself with exploring the world).

I then just went back to the hostel, mildly overwhelmed by this (only in the best meaning of this word!). My plan was to go to sleep soon so I wasn’t going to be tired the next day. I cleaned my SD card and edited few first minutes of the video on YouTube and then fell asleep so good like I haven’t for a long time.

– to be continued –


You can watch the video blog HERE.

And have a great day! 🙂

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