chris/CO149 (co149) wrote,

Philadelphia, 8 December 2006

I've been in DC this week visiting my friend T. She and I made a plan to take the train to Philadelphia to tour the Mint. Naturally, we had cameras with us. Less naturally, they would not let us enter the building while in possession of such cameras. No, they had no checkroom for such things.

(Now why is that? It's proper that you allow the taxpayers to inspect the facilities, but it's not so proper not to expect them to show up with a bunch of stuff and no place to put it. There aren't that many mints still running [four; can you name them?] so there's a high probability that a visitor will be from out of town.)

Solution: After some research, we learned that the bellman at the Holiday Inn at 4th and Arch Streets will be happy to check a bag as long as you understand the hotel won't accept liability. So we put the cameras in one bag and checked it, carefully keeping the train tickets in the other bag so we could get home.

Then we walked through the self-guided tour of the mint. Interesting, but you were walking on an upper floor looking down on a shop floor about 30 feet below. No free samples were given out, and the gift shop was disappointing. Oh well.

T called a friend for some local advice, i.e. where to get lunch. Pat's Steaks was recommended. A street corner in South Philadelphia was given, along with the advice "Any cabbie will know it." Using the latter advice, we discovered that, yes, at least one cabbie knew it. When we got there, we did learn that more than one cabbie knew it: Pat's has been feeding those folks since 1930.

Folks, there's nothing like it. South Philly on a sunny day, 30 degrees or so with a biting wind, sitting at a picnic table eating a cheese steak made at the place that literally invented them and watching the neighborhood . . . happen. I told T that I wouldn't trade that for 10 degrees on the thermometer. She told me (for the seventh time) that she was gonna kill me when we got home. Oh well.

Walking to out next destination, we diverted into a little coffee shop run by a Frenchman who didn't seem to have ever been to Seattle. And thank God for that, too. T had a hot chocolate and I had a "cappucino crème", a cap with cream delightfully sweet and sticky. And the place was indoors.

The second recommendation was Iscra's Italian Bakery. If anyone put the holy into the cannoli, this is the place. Prominently posted is a thank you note from the Archbishop of Philadelphia. You do the math.

We walked back downtown, and took the subway back to the train station.

A kickass day.

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