The cold had bite. The lake was so opaque I had mistaken it for black top. It wasn’t the dead of winter but the first weekend in November when we pulled up to our hotel at 8pm. My Mom and I drove down to Philly for the weekend to visit my younger brother at school, tour the campus and take in some much needed, non-exhaust-filled air.
My brother’s campus is twice the size of Brooklyn College’s (though not nearly as charming) complete with its own rugby/football/soccer field, right in its sloped hills heart. There’s ‘The Perch’— the equivalent to our Student Lounge in SUBO with pool tables— that has a stage, FREE coffee and beverages, couches, coffee tables, armchairs, big screen HD televisions, ID swipe-in doors to keep the space safe(and open) 24/7 and other nice accommodations that our fair college has yet to get hip to. While there, I also discovered Hogwarts— or so is the nickname my brother gives the oldest and most ornate building on the main campus. (He’s not far off the mark.)
Unfortunately the only safe places to eat along the City Avenue strip consists of Chiles, Olive Garden, Wendy’s and the ever faithful 7/11. If you brave world travelers ever find yourself in this situation, my recommendation for Olive Garden is the Venetian Sunset drink with the Seafood Primavera and a cup of the Chicken and Gnocchi soup. Or if you’re feeling like a hot tamale, the Trio Fajita and a bowl of chili should see you through Chiles without any complaints. Just expect to wait an eternity behind hungry, rowdy natives.
On the last day of our mini vacay, we visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Just two exits away from our hotel, we navigated Philly’s roads like it was the regular old George Washington. On the enormous steps of the Western entrance, the view of roughly brushed fall leaves meshed with sheer sunlight reflecting off a rushing bay sprawled out across the horizon like a sleepy morning stretch. Definitely a good sign to start the day with.
We toured exhibit after exhibit of Monet’s, Van Gogh’s, Cassatt’s, Rembrandt’s and a couple Picasso’s, though the most eye opening paintings were the ones by painters I’ll never remember. For me, the beauty of art is that the artist is only another medium. Their names, backgrounds or stories pale in comparison to what they leave behind. All else often gets lost. But the art remains. That might be the ultimate fear of an artist, too. To be overshadowed by their own creations and fall by history’s wayside. Then again, Monet and the others have gotten it together. Maybe the brilliant ones truly find balance in the end.
But the highlight of the Philly Tour was one shinning moment: finding the Rocky Balboa statue. Although the statue has been moved off to the side and down from its rightful place of glory, it didn’t stop the crowds of kids and adults running up the Eastern steps, arms up and triumphant, dancing at the top.
Eat your heart out, Thunderlips.
Image Source: http://turtlerunning.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/r1rocky2.jpg