You never know what you’ll find on Groupon! Today, we found ourselves a deal that got us out and finding Philly: 2 Tickets for a Hop On Hop Off Tour of Philadelphia! Let’s go!
Pre-Groupon Bonus (and FREE!): Liberty Bell Center
Getting to the Hop On Hop Off early, we had time to check out the Liberty Bell Center (immediately across from Bus Stop #1), and see THE Liberty Bell! The winter season is a great time to go- currently it’s free to enter and even on a weekend, it wasn’t all that busy!
Not sure what this this Bell is all about Non-Americans/Non-History Folks? Don’t worry! I had heard rumour of such bell when I arrived here but didn’t know the significance. Canadians- unfortunately this is not a liberty of better service from Bell Canada.
Walking in, I was taken aback at how well designed and modern the space was. It’s very open and one might say liberating. The Center is big enough to read everything without losing interest- having an hour here would be plenty, but 30 minutes we got the main overview (with my memory and attention, it usually can last for 1 hour max at spaces like this). Considering the Bell’s size… Well, it’s not a huge bell, but it’s a lovely bell ringing with a lot of history.
Reading the history of the Bell, and the accompanying human history shed a lot of light on what it means “to be American”. I had never considered how the term “liberty” could be defined by so many people in so many different ways. I need to keep unpacking what liberty means to me, and how my definition fits in with the current American society that I am calling home. Cast across the Bell is the phrase “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” I can get on board with that. For the first time since we’ve arrived, I felt inspired to be a “Legal Resident Alien of the USA” (that’s my current status, officially).
Groupon #1: Hop On Hop Off Double Decker Bus/Old Fashioned Trolly
All aboard! With a pop tart snack in hand, groupon loaded on our phone, and anticipation in heart, we board our old fashioned Trolly. I guess in the off season, this is the ‘bus’ (not the double decker one that is in all of the promotions). We sat down on wooden seats and looked out at the city from our protected view inside. I notice today that my ‘fear’ of the city is starting to loosen up. Everyone is now seated and we’re ready to go: me, Derrick, the driver, and the guide. Pro of Off Season= not that busy!
27 Stops- here we go!
We thought today we would just ride the bus, and hear all of the stories. Since we are the only guests, we also anticipated feelings of guilt if we got off and left the guide alone (it’s my “Canadian” coming out). I find these bus tours are a great way to localize and learn about a new place. For me, it makes the new space feel not so scary. Also the tour guide intel helps put me ahead of many locals (builds my assumed clout on the streets, yo).
We did get off once as the bus made a mandatory stop. Where else but… the steps to the Art Museum, or as most people know it- the Rocky Steps! (cue Eye of the Tiger).
Anticipating this stop, I had Derrick wear his brand new Rocky shirt for the occasion! (is this the tourist, or the local thing to do?) We made it up the 72 steps like pro boxers and posed for the mandatory photo overlooking the city. Up there, I took a breath and smiled- we got this.
Our bus took us through Center City, through Old City, around to Fairmont, then back down through Society Hill, returning us to Center City. On the map, it said we were to go by the Philadelphia Zoo, but we didn’t. When we asked (too late) our guide said there is a separate bus (?). Not sure, but if you go on this tour and want to see the Zoo- ask!
As our 80 minute tour wrapped, we realized how walkable Philly is. Wandering around on our own, we had actually seen a lot of what we saw today. A moment of “that’s all there is?” came over me, but then I realized that there are many more experiences to explore. Philly could be the community that I never knew I needed. And we still haven’t been to the Zoo! In the comments, share some of your favourite tourist spots in Philly that we should check out!
Today was a big day with feeling more comfortable in Philly. Now that I’m finding the sights, I need to start finding me.
Random Bonus American Fact: Pop Tarts are Kellogg’s most popular item in the USA!
Coming Soon: Cheesesteak Reviews of my first 5 Cheesesteak Sandwiches!
Song of the Day: Eye of the Tiger by Survivor