Wednesday – Day 41
Posted on 2nd September 2012
The morning was a lot of moving in, getting my stuff all organized and generally learning the ropes at Penn. I sorted out my immigration and eagerly waited for my roommate to arrive at 11.
At approximately 11:03AM I heard the key in the door turning and opened it to see the beaming face of Anil Chitrapu and his equally enthused parents. After some introductions I set to helping him move in. His parents were incredibly genial and generous and offered to provide me with any of the dormitory essentials I was missing, eventually settling on just bringing me a quilt with a microwave for the room to follow. I was invited to lunch with them and told I now had a place to stay should I need one. I was also under strict instruction to let my parents know I was being taken care of properly. Anil himself is a fantastic guy, cheery, musical, intelligent and easy to get along with. He matches my standards of cleanliness and sociability and overall I think I couldn’t have found a better roommate.
Following the move-in, it was photo time with Me, Anil, and his mother.
Subsequently they departed for lunch and I prepared for a food tour of Philly that I was to be taking with the International Students’ Organisation.
The food tour was organized by “Best of Philly – City Food Tours” with guide and co-owner, Robert Weinberg, a delightful fellow with a sharp wit and a keen sense of street smarts.
Our first stop after his multi-lingual introduction (hello in plenty of different languages) was Tony JR’s for another (vegan) cheese steak. This time it was much better and cheese fries were provided too. I tried to avoid the sticky yellow chips in front of me but decided eventually to try a few of them, not going to happen again. At the same time we were told the story of this dish, originally a true street food, that had developed over time from a standard hot-dog into a steak sandwich, to finally, a Philly Cheese-steak.
Next up was Tomato Pie, a somewhat pizza like concoction with a thick base and a large helping of tomato paste and an interesting sauce. This happened around the corner in a store filled with what were clearly a few locals. I liked the pie a good deal more and gratefully accepted a second slice from Robert.
Following that it was time for a delicious treat, fresh, hot, soft Philly pretzel with hot horseradish mustard! This was had at the Philly Pretzel Factory, a local bakery and distributor of the product. Such a fresh pretzel almost tasted like a european bread with a crisp salty outside, moderated by a tangy mustard laced with a hint of heat. Inside was soft and almost melted in the mouth.
As we walked along the main street in Philly we came to Del Frisco’s where although we didn’t stop to savour their food, we admired their architecture and interior. Del Frisco’s is housed inside a converted bank, with the lower floor featuring event space inside the bank’s vault, with the original door intact. Their wine collection took up vast vacuums inside the vault and within the staircases and was a sight to see.
Dessert time! We headed to Reading Terminal Market inside the old train station where we found Chocolate by Mueller which, featured chocolate in the anatomically correct shapes of organs (kidneys included). From there we took away bags of chocolate coated pretzels that although were cute, didn’t taste as good as they looked. However, next we came to the final and my favorite stop; Flying Monkey Bakery. There we had small chocolate coated chocolate cakes which, though incredibly rich, were by far the most delicious item of the tour.
Following the tour, it was a quick race back to Rodin to get into some warmer clothes and then back to the Office of International Programs to embark on a trip to a ‘Philies’ baseball game, versus the New York Mets. Again our SEPTA tokens were handed out and we headed off to the Citizen Bank Stadium to watch the match. The first thing I noticed when we arrived was the size of the stadium, larger than most Australian stadiums I had seen, however I was soon corrected by one of the staff members who informed me that I was in fact looking at the football field. Which was surrounding by energetic baseball fans. Looking across the road I then saw Citizens Bank Park, the baseball stadium, that was packing with over forty-thousand screaming Phillies fans, all guzzling down cheese steaks, beer and hot dogs. By this point in time the oily food already didn’t appeal to me too much and unfortunately this meant a very meager dinner of the only salad I could find!
Our seats were located at the very top, at the very back of the stadium and we soon settled in to watch the first few innings.
Craig; a Scottish lad, a friendly Indian graduate student and I decided after about four innings to go downstairs and try and get a closer look at the action. Guards were checking tickets and I waited till one of them left for a break before sneaking into the pricier section of the stadium. At this point our Indian friend decided he needed a bathroom break so he snuck off and out. Unfortunately when he returned it was made clear to the guard that neither he nor us had tickets and so we were kicked out and sent back to the regular area of the stadium. We walked around on the bottom floor for a bit more and came to a restaurant (serving greasy food) with seating facing the action and decided to buy some drinks and fries so as to be allowed to seat ourselves close to the action.
Unfortunately, the game was very low scoring with the tally at 3:2 to the Mets by the bottom of the eighth. We returned upstairs to watch the rest of the game and meet up with the rest of the crew. The game unfortunately ended with a Mets victory with the final tally the same as before.
Afterwards it was off to the top of one of the high-rise residences for a few drinks with the Brits and Belgians before a good night’s sleep.