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Trip Pennsylvania Pennsylvania   All of my travels within my home state of Pennsylvania. Walter C (US)
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All of my travels within my home state of Pennsylvania.

  • 04Jan 2010

    1 The 2 Must-Sees of Philadelphia 04.01.2010 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    Being off from work, and nothing else to do, I decided to be a tourist for a few hours. So I went into Center City, taking the train, as I will no longer bring a car there. I rode into the Gallery, which is the shopping mall. From there, I walked to the main attractions.

    It has been a while since I've been there, having gone there with friends who visited there before. I started with the Liberty Bell, which I consider to be the symbol of Philadelphia, and always the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to must-sees in this city. I had to go through security, which was similar to the ones at the airport.

    The Liberty Bell was commissioned in 1751, it was rung to make public announcements. It was cracked upon first use, when it hung in the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall). Repairs have been made, but it only got worse. And it was last rung in 1846, for George Washington's birthday.

    After seeing the Liberty Bell, I went to Independence Hall. After the Liberty Bell, this is the second thing that I recommend seeing. Being January, which is the off-season, I was able to come back later until the next tour time. But this is usually not the case during the busier times of the year.

    I would see the Assembly Room, where the Declaration of Independence was approved and signed on July 4, 1776, and where the Constitution was ratified in 1787. And the former Supreme Court room. Not my first time visiting, and I would visit it again in 2016.

    I also took the time to see Congress Hall, which was to right of Independence Hall. Then headed back home.

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  • 12Apr 2010

    2 76ers Not Enough Heat 12.04.2010 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    When going to the Sports Complex to buy some Phillies tickets, I decided to take in a Philadelphia 76ers game at the Wachovia Center. The first game I've ever attended, was in 1991, back when Charles Barkley played for the team, the only once I've attended at the old Spectrum. The Sixers, along with the Flyers, moved to its current home, the Wachovia Center. Since then, I've been to a few games over the years.

    I admit, I am usually nothing more than a casual fan of basketball, and follow it through ESPN or Yahoo Sports. It certainly does not help that the Sixers (as they are commonly known as) had a horrible season. I have been to a few games over the years, but this would be the first time I've actually made it for the start of the game.

    After buying tickets at Citizens Bank Park, I went to the ticket office to buy a seat to the Sixers game against the Miami Heat. I figure, the game is not sold out, and it's coming close to the end of the regular season, with the Sixers not going to the playoffs. When buying the ticket, I was shocked to learn that there is a fee for buying at the window. That just annoyed me, big-time. It's bad enough that fees get charged for buying online or over the phone, but a fee for buying in person is just plain ridiculous.

    I would sit at one end of the court, looking around. I saw the banners for the Flyers and Sixers at the ceiling, which were for division titles and championships won during their respective history. During halftime, I just walked around the hallway. There is a display of old uniforms and game balls, of milestones reached.

    The 76ers took on Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat. The Heat just played for placement in the conference, which would determine who they played in the first round of the playoffs. The Sixers just wanted the season to end, as this was the last home game of the season.

    The game was not as lopsided as their records indicate, and I thought the Sixers would come away with a victory when they led at the half, and after 3 quarters. But Wade had 30 points in the game, and assisted on the game winning shot by Udonis Haslem, with only 1 second left. Andre Iguodalaï tried to hit a game-tying shot for the home team, but missed. And the Heat beat the Sixers, 107-105. An entertaining game, even though not the result that I hoped for.

    After the game, I walked around the place, and headed back home.

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  • 29Apr 2012

    3 Seeing Old City 29.04.2012 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    This was the day that I would meet with Harish, who came with his friend, Justin. We would meet around the Liberty Bell area, and tried to look for a place for panoramic views of the city. I honestly don't think there were any, as I remember asking a few years ago. We went to a gift shop, and asked the person there, and told us of a certain location. Only when we went there, there was nothing. After walking around for a little while, we just gave up.

    So all 3 of us, walked to Old City neighborhood, and looked into the Franklin Court. But it was where Benjamin Franklin lived at one point, but unfortunately, the place was under renovations. So we continued on, and came to Christ Church.

    Founded in 1695 by the Church of England, this church was where some of the signers of the Declaration of Independence attended. Like George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Betsy Ross. There was a guide giving a tour to a bunch of school kids. We went inside, and sat for a little while.

    Afterwards, we went back out, and headed to Elfreth's Alley, considered "our nation's oldest residential street". About a block long, it dates back to 1702. And the best 18th century preserved houses in the city. I got to go inside one of them, which is a museum. While looking nice from the outside, it does seem cramped inside. I went to see the few rooms, and the courtyard in the back. This street does have a charm to it, feeling like a step back in time. I got to even see a cat sitting at the window, inside one of the houses. And some of you know how excited I can get, when it comes to cats?

    After seeing the alley, we walked to the Betsy Ross House, but did not go inside it. Instead, we bought drinks at a stand there, and just hung out, and get to know each other better. It was a nice time.

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  • 07Oct 2012

    4 Meeting in Prison 07.10.2012 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    The second one was on October 7th. It was a rainy day, and I would meet up with Cydele. We met a week earlier at the meet-up in LA. When learning that she was coming to Philly, I made plans to meet up when she came into town. We exchanged messages on TB, to arrange the meeting time and place. Originally from San Diego, Cydele was in Pittsburgh for a conference. She then drove across PA to Philly, as she wanted to see this city.

    I arrived into town, and ended up walking all the way to the rental agency, where she would be returning the car. It was a long walk, as I was too cheap to use the subway. It was very humid, and I started to sweat quickly. Once there, I got a text message, telling me that she was running late. I waited at the car rental agency, then walked a few blocks to the Franklin Institute. After a little mix-up, we finally met up.

    Since she was saving the main attractions for another day, she wanted to visit the Eastern State Penitentiary, a prison that once held the infamous gangster, Al Capone. So we walked about 5 blocks to get there. Once we arrived, we separated for the time, since we each got our own audioguide.

    Opened in 1829, Eastern State Penitentiary was considered one of the first American prisons, and the one that other prisons modeled after. Considered state of the art during its time, as it did have running water, and was able to control room temperature. The prison closed in 1971, and later became an historical landmark and a museum.

    After walking around the prison, and seeing the different cells, I met up with Cydele, and we walked to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

    Now already, you should know why we headed that way. That's right, it's to run the steps like Rocky Balboa did in the film, hence why the Art Museum steps is often called the "Rocky steps". But first, we had to see the statue of Rocky himself. There was a line for it, to get a photo with the statue, which both of us did.

    It was built in 1982, around the time of filming of "Rocky III". Shortly after, it got moved to the Spectrum, former home of the Flyers and 76ers. It did return to the art museum briefly for a few movies that were filmed in Philly. But it was not a permanent return until 2006, as it was placed on the right side of the Art Museum steps.

    After seeing the statue, we both ran up the steps, to the top where the footprints were. Then we each did the arm raising thing, just like Rocky did. I don't know how many times I've done it. And it does give nice views of downtown Philly, more locally known as Center City.

    Afterwards, we walked along the Ben Franklin Parkway, stopping by Love Park for a little bit. Then went to Reading Terminal Market, which is an indoor market, with farmer's market and places to eat. This was where we got to eat the Philly specialty, the Philly cheesesteaks. Unfortunately, I was running low on cash, and the place did not accept credit card, so Cydele had to cover for me. Hopefully, I will return the favor someday.

    After enjoying our cheesesteaks, we had to part ways, as I had to head back. It was a fun time to meet up with a TBer for the second time, only this time, in Philly.

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  • 07Aug 2013

    5 Summer Sightseeing 07.08.2013 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    This will be a lit of places that I visited in the summer of 2013, as I had free time to see more of Philly. Starting off at the Independence Visitor Center, which I've been to a few times before, but never really took the time to really see it. This took place in July, and I will list them here...

    1. Archaeological finds of the President's House - the part of the house unearthed, was the slave quarters, where George Washington kept his slaves. Surrounding it, was the exhibition that got into the executive branch of the government, the history of slavery, the different slaves owned by Washington, and how he got around the Abolition Act of 1780. I thought it was really interesting, learning that our First President... well, it does make him more human, to put it mildly.

    2. Philadelphia History Museum - my main reason to visit, was for the Phillies exhibition, which is temporary. On display are some memorabilia from fans, and the jerseys of Mike Schimdt and Jimmy Rollins, plus the champagne bottle used after the Phils won the World Series in 2008. And oh, in case anyone is wondering why I have not reviewed the Phillies ballpark yet, it's because I am saving it for last. This museum seems to be more for the locals than out-of-town visitors, as it is a rotating exhibition to share memories for the locals.

    3. Old City Hall - as the name indicates, it used to be the previous City Hall location. Before moving to its current location in Center City.

    4. Free Quaker Meeting House - Built in 1783, as the Free Quakers needed a place of worship after being split from the other Quakers, since the Free Quakers supported the Revolution, while the others believed that they needed to stay out of the war. I went inside, and looked around, but there is not much to see. A short display telling you who the Free Quakers are.

    5. Christ Church Burial Ground. This was where Benjamin Franklin and a few other signers of the Declaration of Independence, were buried. Turned out, it required a $2 admission, which I paid. And turned out again, that Franklin's grave, was actually visible from outside the grounds, through fence, which would have saved me a few dollars. I know it only a few dollars, but still, what a waste!

    6. Arch Street Friends Meeting House - another place of worship for the Quakers. But have to say, this one was more interesting than the other 2 sights so far. With impressive dioramas on William Penn's life, and why the Quakers moved to the New World. Plus the worship area, which is used to this day.

    7. Betsy Ross House - a museum on the woman who supposedly created the very first American flag there. And actually lived at that exact location as well. The courtyard was the only nice part, but does not have much else. Not worth visiting at all, as the admission was way overpriced, in an attraction that can be seen very quickly.

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  • 17Dec 2013

    6 A Philly Christmas 17.12.2013 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    This entry will be both December 17th and 19th, as it will be about the Christmas sites that I have seen in 2013. After reading about some of the Christmas attractions in the Philly area, in Andrew's blog, I had to go see them for myself. I decided to go on this day, after work.

    I arrived into Center City, and went to the Macy's building first. This used to be the old Wanamaker's, the first department store in Philly, and one of the first in the US. It opened in 1911, and has been featured in some movies over the years, like "Mannequin" in 1987, and "12 Monkeys" in 1995. It remained Wanamaker's until 1997, when it was renamed Lord & Taylor. Then became a Macy's in 2006, and the building is now a historical landmark.

    One of the main features in the store, is the giant bronze eagle, which became a famous meeting spot. That led to a local famous saying, "Meet you at the eagle", and shoppers knew immediately, where to meet.

    But my reason to come to Macy's, is for the 2 Christmas attractions inside it. The first one that I went to, was the Christmas Light Show. I watched it on the 2nd floor, and it was a nice view. A Christmas tradition since 1956, it is held inside the Macy’s in Center City, which used to be the old Wanamaker’s store. Just look for the large Christmas tree, which is a sight in itself. The colors of the lights keep changing, and just nice to see.

    The light show is narrated by Julie Andrews, and tells a bunch of Christmas stories. Some of them include “The Nutcracker”, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, and “Frosty the Snowman”, with the music or songs in the background. After seeing the show, it may become a Christmas tradition of mine.

    The second one inside Macy's, is Dickens Village. This is a walkthrough attraction, through a series of displays, telling the story of the Charles Dickens’ classic, “A Christmas Carol”. It starts off with Dickens himself, giving an introduction. Then the story itself. This is a nice attraction to see, and the displays do an impressive job of telling the story, some of which come alive. The artwork and attention to detail are just great to look at, and the story is interesting enough to follow. And can go at own pace, and free to enter.

    Then I exited the building, and saw some nice holiday window displays, along the side of the building. Then walked through City Hall, to Love Park, where the Christmas Village was. It was wet, and slippery, as it just snowed, so there was a lot of slush. I got to the Christmas Village, and looked around for a little bit.

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  • 19Dec 2013

    7 A Philly Christmas II 19.12.2013 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    After work, I decided to go into Center City, and visit the Christmas Village again. This time, it was much better weather, warmer than a couple days ago, and less windy. It felt nicer.

    I walked around again, looking at more of the shops, and to the other side, where I saw more things, like Christmas trees on sale, along with a display of the nativity. As the name would indicate, this attraction is a Christmas village from Germany, with its various shops, selling all kinds of goodies. Plus you can get to try out a Belgain waffle, gingerbread cookies, and all kinds of German food, like bratwurst!

    The park has a Christmas tree with lights, with the LOVE sign in front of it, is a nice photo opp. Though, there will be people who may “volunteer” to take your photo for you. Just something to beware of. But the sight itself, especially at night, is nice to look at.

    Another highlight, is the Kathe Wohlfahrt, which is a gift shop of Christmas ornaments. It is a nice place to see the different types of ornaments and other types of Christmas crafts, all coming from Germany. This place should be definitely be checked out, though photography is not allowed at all!

    Plus I decided to try out a Belgian waffle, which I had not had, since my trip to Belgium. I had it with chocolate syrup, and let's just say, I really miss eating those.

    Afterwards, I walked over to Franklin Square. It was quite a walk, about 7 blocks one way, and 2 blocks another way. Walking by Reading Terminal Market and Chinatown, and through some deserted blocks. I finally got to Franklin Square, which was really out of the way.

    In Franklin Square, there was a fountain, with a display of a kite with a key attached to the kite string, representing the experiment with electricity, that Benjamin Franklin became known for. This would lead to his invention of the lightning rod.

    Walking around the square, I saw the merry-go-round, and various Christmas decorations. There were some people there, and a few food stands that were open. I picked a spot, and then watched the light show. I thought it was okay, but not worth going out of my way to see it.

    After the light show ended, I headed back home. I had fun, and got to see more of Christmas in Philly. There are still more things to see, but that may have to wait until next year.

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  • 03Jun 2015

    8 Trip to the Zoo 03.06.2015 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    When surfing the net, I stumbled upon a web site called Zoochat, which is a web site for zoo enthusiasts. These are a group of people that just loves going to zoos around the world, and in the process, loves animals. After reading some threads there, I decided to make a visit to the Philadelphia Zoo.

    I have not been there in over 25 years. I can't remember exactly when I last went. Only remembering dragging my parents to go, and riding the monorail around the zoo. Judging from the photos I have seen, things look a lot different now.

    I arrived at the zoo, and already it was crowded. A lot of school groups taking the field trip to the zoo. I paid admission, and entered. I started with the Small Mammal House. From there, I would walk in a clockwise direction around the zoo, for the most part. I would take detours, to check out Bear Country and the nearby enclosures of ducks and geese that I would normally see around my neighborhood.

    I will be listing some of the highlights of the zoo in the review. But have to say, the biggest highlight of all, is Zoo360, which is a network of elevated walkways, allowing the animals to get out of their enclosure, and walk around the zoo. I have seen it a few times with the tigers and a few primates, and it is always a delight each time.

    I remember back in the 80's, when most animals were held in steel cages, with only enough room to pace around. Thank goodness that is no longer the case, as their enclosures resemble their natural habitat. The Philly Zoo has come a long way. And the monorail is no longer around.

    I stayed until closing, and still did not get to see everything. Then I left the zoo, headed somewhere else, before heading home.

    It was nice to spend the day at the zoo, and could be the first of many zoos that I will be visiting and blogging about, wherever I may travel around the world. Kind of like what I currently do with baseball stadiums, as I do have this sudden interest to visiting zoos in other places.

    I would make another visit on July 3rd (exactly one month later), with my mom. It was a lot more crowded, making it hard to enjoy. But I did get to see the hippos out of the water, which is the first time ever for me.

    I have divided the photos of the animals between the blog and review. The photos in the review is basically an almost complete list of animals that I saw and was able to photograph, as well as things about the zoo itself. I combined the photos from the 2 visits.

    Zoo review and more photos in the blog entry here.

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  • 08Nov 2015

    9 Day Trip to Brandywine 08.11.2015 USA —

    Chadds Ford, USA

    Beschreibung

    I decided to do something different for a change, and took a day trip to see the Brandywine Battlefield site. It was about an hour drive from where I live. Luckily, it was a Sunday, otherwise it would have taken longer, due to traffic.

    I went into the city of Chadds Ford, and arrived at the Brandywine Battlefield historic site. This was near where the Battle of Brandywine took place in 1777 during the Revolutionary War (or the American War of Independence). This was where George Washington (or GW for short) led the American troops to fight against the British troops, led by William Howe. The British won this battle, and allowed them to overtake the capital, which was Philadelphia at the time.

    I arrived at the visitor center, where I would have to pay for both museum and house tour. The tour was about to start in minutes, so I had to get back to the car, and drive to the Benjamin Ring House. I got there, and was able to make it, right before the start of the tour.

    We were shown different rooms of the house, by a tour guide, who was really interesting to listen to. He really seemed to enjoy telling the history of the place, and the battlelines that happened. This house was the home of Benjamin Ring, a Quaker who sided with the Americans, and allowed GW to stay there and plan for battle.

    After the tour, I went back to the visitor center. First, I saw a film, which would have been the intro to the site. Then went to see the museum, which was small, and in 2 different rooms. After seeing all that, I went to another part of the park, to the Gideon Gilpin House.

    This house was currently going through renovations, so I did not go inside it. Not much was mentioned about Gilpin, but his home is the only original on the site that is still standing. It was visited by Major General Lafayette, a French man who would help the Americans during the war. But that visit happened much later, and not during the war. And there is a sycamore tree that has been there since 1787. And I was done seeing this place.

    I decided to go to Valley Forge next. But unfortunately, I did not have enough time to see it, since it got dark. So that entry will have to be another time, and possibly a combination of the 2 visits.

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  • 09Nov 2015

    10 Hiking Around Valley Forge 09.11.2015 USA —

    Valley Forge, USA

    Beschreibung

    I tried to visit Valley Forge Historic Park the night before, and was able to see the museum collection in the visitor center. But when trying to drive around the park, it just got too dark to see anything. So I decided to end it, and come back the next day, as I wanted to see the fall foliage.

    I always remember going to this park with my family for a picnic during the warmer months. Even enjoyed the drive to get there, as we would drive along the Schuylkill (pronounced "Skool-kill") River.

    The next day, on November 9, I arrived in the morning. First to the visitor center, where I picked up some maps and then went to see the short film. After that, I decided to do a 5-mile hike around the park, as I really needed to get some exercise.

    So I walked on the main trail, passing by some really nice, looking fall foliage, which was the leaves changing into bright colors. Just really nice to look at, as I also passed by the cabins, where some of the soldiers stayed. I did look inside one of them.

    I continued on, until I got to the National Memorial Arch. This was a memorial to George Washington and all the soldiers who spent the winter of 1777-78 in Valley Forge. While not the coldest winter, the soldiers faced major shortages in food, medicine, and clothes, which led to disease. A lot of soldiers died due to starvation and disease.

    I would meet some people from other places in Pennsylvania, and had a friendly chat. Then resumed walking around, seeing some people putting Christmas lights on trees, going through a forest, and even seeing a deer.

    Then decided to take the "short cut", walking on a gravel road called the Baptist Trail Road. Not easy on the feet, but it saved a bit of time. I would pass by Artillery Park, which had a bunch of cannons lined up. This was in case of an attack from the British. And an old schoolhouse, which was not open, and nothing inside.

    I came onto pavement, and continued on, passing by the statue of General von Steuben, a Prussian officer who trained the American troops after the winter. This would prove very helpful for them when fighting resumed against the British. Then passed by another building and memorial, until I came to the Washington Memorial Chapel. Then went inside, to look around.

    While looking around, I had a friendly chat with the guy who was overseeing the place, and he would tell me some history and the story behind the place. More about all that in the review here.

    After walking around the chapel grounds, I resumed hiking, deciding to hurry up. Not much else to see for this part, as I arrived back at the visitor center. Not sure how long it took me, but probably around 4 hours, as I did make some stops along the way. I got back in the car, and drove around the park.

    I would drive to Washington's Headquarters, where Washington stayed during the encampment. It was open, and I did not need to see it on a guided tour, as previously thought. I walked through the buildings in the area, and walked around. After that, I resumed driving, looking for more fall foliage. But there was not much else, so I would leave the park, and head home.

    It was nice to visit this place, and do something different for a change. And I did get some exercise.

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  • 28Nov 2015

    11 Walking Along Parkway 28.11.2015 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    I was so bored this day, so I decided to take a little walk around the city. Taking the train into the city, it was around sunset. I arrived at Suburban Station, and walked to the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. I did visit this place before, as I have written about it earlier in this blog. But this time, the bright lights were on, giving a much better view of this place.

    I walked around the nave area, seeing the chapels and the church art around the place. Walking around here, makes me really miss traveling somewhere else in the world. I spent about 30 minutes looking at this place, then went back outside. It was raining a little bit.

    I walked towards City Hall, and saw some sculptures along the way. I took some photos of some of them, like the Holocaust monument, but most of the photos came out lousy. I guess it was the combination of the dim light, and me always having a hard time deciding whether to use flash or not. I am sure I will walk this area again, so hopefully, better photos by then.

    I came upon the Christmas Village in Love Park, but the tree there, was not lit. I was told that the lighting would happen in a week. I continued on, to City Hall, where an ice skating rink has been built. Kind of like Rockefeller Center, but not as romantic, I would think. Seeing this part, I have to remember, to explore more of the Christmas attractions in this city.

    I decided to head to Barcade, located in North Philly, to play some classic video games. At some point, I will write more about this place at another time. Let's just say, I can't get enough of "Double Dragon". After some time, I decided to head home.

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  • 09Dec 2015

    12 A Philly Christmas III 09.12.2015 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    I decided to seek out more Christmas things in the City of Brotherly Love. This entry will be a combination of different days, as I would see a little bit on each day.

    I would arrive into Philly from the suburbs, at night time, since this was the best time to see the Christmas lights. Plus I still wanted to maintain the annual Christmas traditions, like seeing the Macy's Christmas Light Show and the Dickens Village. I have already talked about those attractions and the Christmas Village earlier in this blog. This entry will be about more things to see.

    But before I get to them, I should mention that I did see window displays at the Macy's store, with scenes from "A Charlie Brown Christmas". I have not seen it for some time, but always thought the cartoon was a bit mean-spirited. These displays are due to the recent Peanuts movie, currently playing in theaters.

    Some of the things that I would see...

    1. Christmas tree at City Hall - how did I not notice this at all? There is a tree lighting ceremony at the start of the season, which I am sure, is really crowded. Really nice to look at, and worth a look, when going between the Macy's department store and the Christmas Village at Love Park. Sometimes, the lights in the surrounding area, blink to some Christmas tunes.

    2. Comcast Holiday Spectacular, which is a holiday show in the Comcast Center, which itself, is the tallest building in Philly. A recent addition to the Christmas scene in Philly, the Comcast Holiday Spectacular is a musical video set to Christmas music and songs. Basically, the show takes you through different musical Christmas numbers, along with different video segments accompanying each number. Some of the musical numbers include “The 12 Days of Christmas”, “Jingle Bell Rock”, part of “The Nutcracker”, and even the theme from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, among others. There are dance performances, and singers on top of some of the buildings within the Philly skyline. Running around 15 minutes, I find the show to be really entertaining

    3. Rittenhouse Square - the public park in downtown area. There were a lot of Christmas lights on display, but all white. Kind of disappointing to me, as I like to see it more colorful. But the designs are nice to look at, and worth a look if in the area. About a 10 to 15 minute walk from City Hall.

    4. Jewelers' Row - a small stretch of Samson Street, full of jewelry stores and appraisers. Jewelers' Row is the oldest diamond district in the US, dating back to 1799. When seeing the photos of it, I thought there would be a lot of lights. But photos can be deceiving, as it turned out, not nearly as many as I expected. It was okay to look at, but only worth seeing if I was passing along the way.

    I hope to see more Christmas attractions in the city, like the Winterfest at Penn's Landing. But it is really out-of-the-way, and quite a walk to get to. So I will have to save it for another time. Hopefully, within this Christmas year.

    Seeing Christmas attractions like these and more, has renewed the Christmas spirit in me somewhat. Now, I want to see what other cities are like, during Christmas time.

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  • 31Dec 2015

    13 Vatican Splendors 31.12.2015 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    There were some interesting exhibitions at the Franklin Institute, which is the science museum along the Ben Franklin Parkway. I would go to one of them with my mom, to see one called "Vatican Splendors".

    This exhibition has objects that the Vatican has had in storage for centuries, with some being seen by the public for the first time ever. So they say! They would go as far back as the 1st century, going back to the days of the Roman Empire, through the Middle Ages, and Renaissance, towards the present day. And the objects were arranged in chronological order.

    Entering the exhibition, there was the option to call our mobile phones, and use it as an audioguide. But since it was inside, the signal can be spotty, and frustrating to use. After a little while, I just gave up on it. Besides, there were descriptions, which I found to be good enough to know what I was seeing. And use the descriptions to help caption (or identify) the photos of the objects that I have taken.

    Speaking of which, I am glad that photography was allowed. I am not a fan of places that don't allow photography, considering sometimes, how much money we pay. Besides, photos are no substitute for actually visiting the place. But I digress!

    Other than the problem with the cell phone signal, the exhibition was really enjoyable to see through. Just seeing these objects, definitely made me want to take more trips to Europe. Hoped to take that next trip for my 40th birthday.

    Interesting that the Vatican had objects that were not even from Europe, but from Asia and the Americas as well. With so much to see, it took me between 2 to 3 hours to see everything. So I would say, it was worth the time and money.

    When me and my mom reached the end, we would go downstairs to see a show in the planetarium. We would watch "To Space & Back". After the show, we would leave the museum.

    Along the way, there was a display of St. Peter's Basilica, built with LEGO bricks. It was just amazing to see, and hard to believe what things can be built with these things, that I remember playing with, as toys back in the day.

    We left the museum, and headed back home. A nice way to spend New Year's Eve, and glad that the museum was open on that day. A good way to help close out 2015!

    Happy 2016, and hope for more travels!

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  • 28Feb 2016

    14 A Visit to the Small Zoo 28.02.2016 USA —

    Norristown, USA

    Beschreibung

    It was a very nice day, being unseasonably warm at this time of year. Around 60 F (or 15 C), I decided to make a visit to the Elmwood Park Zoo.

    It was about 30 minutes from where I lived. I would drive to the zoo, going through the town of Norristown. I did have some trouble finding it, but was able to find it. Once I got there, I parked and then paid admission. I was disappointed that the ticket office ran out of zoo maps, which I like to collect, and depend on, to get around. Then entered the zoo.

    Entering the zoo, it is not surprising that there were crowds, since it was Sunday and the weather being unseasonably warm. Very nice day to stroll around the zoo, though getting around the crowds was not fun. Not it was not nearly as bad as I have experienced at other zoos.

    I would see some of the outdoor animals, like the red panda and bisons, as well as some of the farm animals. I went to one end of the zoo, where I would see some construction sites along the way. There will be a couple of new exhibits that have more space, for the giraffes and jaguars. I would see the jaguars out on display, but not the giraffes, as they are kept inside during the winter months.

    After reaching one end, I went back a different way, seeing more animals, to the other side. I would see the different colored macaws (or parrots), along with bobcats and river otters. Then went inside the building called The Bayou, which had some of the reptiles and amphibians, along with some howler monkeys. It really smelled in there, but I guess, that is just way it is.

    Back out, I walked around the other parts of the zoo that I may have overlooked, and then headed back towards the entrance area. I would see the bald eagle and a large totem pole. Then exited the zoo. It took me about 1.5 to 2 hours to see the zoo.

    After leaving the zoo, I went to the nearby high school, where I used to go with my church group back in the late 90's and early 2000's. Then looked around the area, seeing the entire open field at Norristown Farm Park. I only stayed for a very short time. Then headed back home!

    It was a good day to get out, and see another zoo. Probably even closer than the Philly zoo, but I don't know for sure! Just glad to add another zoo to my list.

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  • 06Mar 2016

    15 Philadelphia Flower Show 06.03.2016 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    Having seen an advertisment for it, and wanting something to do, since I was not traveling anywhere anytime soon. I decided to attend this year's Philadelphia Flower Show.

    I have read about in another TBer's blog, and considered going in the past. But never got around to it, until now. I would buy a ticket at an Acme Supermarket, where I get a $2 discount. And then take the train into the city.

    The Philly Flower Show is the oldest flower show in the US, dating back to 1829. And the largest indoor show in the US as well. The show was held in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, which I have been inside of, only once. It was for a church conference back in 2001.

    I arrived at there, and had to pass through the hallway with all the stalls, to the actual show. Once I got there, I picked up a map, and started touring around the show.

    The Philly Flower Show has a series of flower displays, basically making it an art form made out of flowers. And a different theme every year. This year's theme was "Explore America: 100 Years of the National Park Service", to honor the 100 years of the National Park Service.

    Who are the National Park Service? The agency of the government that manages the US national parks, historical sites and other monuments throughout the US. The national parks would include places like the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, while the US monuments are mainly historical sites, like Independence Hall and Statue of Liberty.

    I would start off at the Big Timber Lodge, with some nice displays. Then look at most of the other displays, which are works of art in the form of flowers, that have been inspired by the different national parks. Not necessarily a replica of the parks themselves.

    I would have only around 4 hours to see this place, and came around 5:30 PM, hoping to avoid crowds. Well, it turned out to be a great decision, but the crowds went from managable to almost having the displays all to myself.

    I won't get into the displays themselves in this entry, as there is just too much to get into. Instead, I will let the photos speak for themselves. And there are different sides to each display, so some of them will have multiple photos from different angles. The way I will arrange most of the photos is by this... (1) start with the photo of the description sign of the display, with names of national parks and the displays (2) followed by the group of photos of that display itself, with only names of national parks that inspired that display. So yes, there will be a huge load of photographs in this blog entry, a lot more than my usual amount.

    After seeing the floral displays, I would see miniatures and other forms of art inspired by the national parks. Like the decoration of the front doors of homes, and the dining tables. And did stop by the marketplace, where there were a bunch of vendors selling all kinds of things. I did not really see much, since I was not really interested.

    It would take me around 3 hours to see just about everything. After that, I went to the trains, and rode back to get back home.

    It was a very fun night, and I am definitely open to visiting more flower shows in the future. Definitely worth my time!

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  • 05Jun 2016

    16 Crossing Through the Place 05.06.2016 USA —

    Washington Crossing, USA

    Beschreibung

    I decided to take a day trip to Washington Crossing Historic Park. I have been there a few times before, including some of those times on Christmas Day, for the reenactment. More about that in an earlier entry in this blog, the 3rd one titled "Washington Crossing on Christmas Day". This visit, I wanted to see more of the park, and get to see the sites on it, which are closed on Christmas Day.

    This was the place where George Washington would lead the Continential Army across the Delaware River, to launch a sneak attack against the Hessian troops in Trenton. This led to the Battle of Trenton on Christmas Night in 1776. The Hessians referred to the German soldiers, who were allies with the British during the American War of Independence. Or more commonly known as the Revolutionary War. The Hessians were caught completely off guard, and got defeated by the Continential Army. And gave the Americans more confidence, as this was their first victory in the war.

    Arriving at the park, I would go inside the visitor center, which has been renovated recently. I would join a guided tour, led by a tour guide named David, and accompanied by a colonial soldier. We were taken to different spots in the Lower part of the park, including the Durham Boat House and the McConkey's Ferry Inn, plus got background on the crossing and the park itself.

    The Durham Boat House is where the boats are stored, which are used for the reenactment on Christmas Day. And the McConkey's Ferry Inn is a former tavern and inn, where George Washington may have stayed before the crossing. Dating back to the 18th century, there has been additions made to the place over the years.

    After touring the McConkey's Ferry Inn, I went back to the visitor center, to see the short film. Then toured the Exhibits Gallery, which was a small museum in the visitor center. Then back out, to see the row of flags, including 13 state flags. I am sure someone could figure out the meaning behind that. ;) Then walked around the Lower part, as this place was originally known as Taylorsville. There were some old buildings that still stood, but they were not open to the public.

    After walking through the area, I was not sure what to do next. But then decided to visit the Upper part of the park, which I have never visited before. And had to drive to get there, which was quite a distance. I did get confused along the way, but was able to get to the Upper part, starting with Bowman's Hill Tower.

    A tall stone tower, built in 1931 to commemorate the American Revolution, I went up the steps to the top, for view of the surrounding area, of Bucks County. The views were okay, but nothing really special. Then went back downstairs, and continued on, to the Thompson-Neely House. Only way to get there, was by car.

    I arrived there, and took the house tour of the place. I was the only person on the guided tour, led by Katherine. The Thompson-Neely House were originally a duplex. There was one original part, that dated back to 1702. And more parts got added throughout the 18th century, and served as a hospital during the war. Some notable patients that got treated and stayed there, included William Washington (cousin of George) and James Monroe (who would later become President). The house was once owned by Robert Thompson, and later on by his son-in-law, William Neely. Hence the name.

    After touring the house, I went to see the Soldiers' Graves, which is a site of a mass grave from the American Revolution. Then went to drive around the Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve. By then, I was hungry and worn out. So I went through it quickly, and headed back towards home.

    It was a good way to spend a day, and luckily, I was able to see the place before it started to rain really hard. And finally got to see the Upper half.

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  • 20Jun 2016

    17 Passport to Founding Fathers and More 20.06.2016 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    I decided to visit a bunch of different sites. This entry will include sites from the 3 different days that I visited in June.

    1. Declaration House - where Thomas Jefferson stayed during his time in Philly, and wrote the Declaration of Independence. Hence the name. I walked around the place, and it was disappointing to see some scaffolding around the building. When asking the National Parks ranger when the renovations will be complete, he had no idea. It does make the building less appealing to visit.

    2. Second Bank of the United States - Basically, a portrait gallery. And originally the national bank of the US. It was chartered by James Madison in 1816, which was 5 years after the 1st one was shut down. There was a need for a national bank after the War of 1812, to handle the finances of the country, and deal with the war debt. It lasted 20 years, when Andrew Jackson shut it down in 1832.

    3. Franklin Court - Benjamin Franklin's home in Philly. There were a bunch of different parts to visit. They would include Franklin Court Courtyard, Franklin Court Printing Office, Benjamin Franklin Museum and Fragments of Franklin Court. All were interested to visit, and too extensive to cover here.

    4. National Constitution Center - a museum that tells the story of the United States Constitution throughout the country’s history. Too bad that photography was only allowed in Signers' Hall, which has the statues of the people who signed the Constitution.

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  • 26Jun 2016

    18 Going All Over the Place 26.06.2016 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    This day, I decided to visit 4 different places, with one of them being completely unplanned. A late start, as I would not get to the historical area until around 12:30pm. I decided to visit the Franklin Court again, as I did miss this part of the attraction, the Fragments of Franklin Court exhibit. I would not know about it, until I read about it online later on. So I had to make a return visit. I would see the original wall and some old toilet bowls.

    After the return visit to Franklin Court, I would head over to another site, which turned out to be a 15-minute walk. And walking on cobblestone was no fun at all. I would cut through a historical area, surrounded by old colonial buildings, in some type of park. And would see Carpenters' Hall along the way. I did not originally plan to visit this place, but decided to stop by, since it was on the way.

    This was the site of the First Continental Congress in 1774, where delegates from the different colonies got together to figure out what to do next, after the passing of the Intolerable Acts (also known as the Coercive Acts), and whether independence would be a possibility. I looked around the place for a bit.

    After seeing Carpenters' Hall, I would take a walk through Society Hill, which was an old residential area, with a bunch of colonial-looking row houses. It looked really nice, and a bit more quieter than the Independence Hall area. And a lot more shaded, as it was hot.

    I would arrive at the Thaddeaus Kosciuszko National Memorial. I went inside, and looked around the place. This was once the home of Thaddeaus Kosciuszko, who was a Polish military officer, and fought alongside the Continental Army against the British during the American Revolution. I thought this place would be a quickie like the Declaration House, but it was nothing like that.

    After seeing this place, I went across the street to see St. Peter's Church. I looked around for a little bit, as the church building was closed. So I did not go inside. Then headed back, towards the visitor center.

    I did pass by the First Bank of the United States, which was the first national bank building that was started by the first Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Currently, it is not open, and I don't think it is even being used at all.

    I went to the visitor center, to cool off for a bit. And ask for directions to the next place, the Edgar Allan Poe Historic Site. Then walked to the bus stop, and took the bus to get there. Good thing I did that, as it would have been a long walk, with almost no shade along the way.

    I arrived there, and much to my disappointment, there was scaffolding around the building. So that made it look less attractive. I went inside, and looked around the only home that is still left standing in Philly. Edgar Allan Poe lived his most productive years in Philly, having written some of his short stories, like "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Black Cat", while living there. I can remember having to read some of his stories while in middle school, but can't say that I am a fan of his. Still, he did leave a legacy, which would later influence people like Sir Arthur Canon Doyle and Alfred Hitchcock.

    After seeing the Poe home, my time was running out, as I headed to the Penn Museum. It would take a while to get there, as it was basically on the other side of the city. But I did have a membership pass which I borrowed from my local library, to use. And this would be the only time I would have, to visit this place.

    Luckily, I have been to this place before, and even had photos of the place. But ended up losing them. Still, I did not mind, as I really liked this place. With the 50 minutes that I had left, I zipped through as much as I can, trying to snap as many photos as possible. I would go through the Asian part, then the Egyptian mummies section, zip through the ancient Mediterranean part, and even saw the Iraqi exhibition. But I obviously ran out of time.

    After closing, it was time to head back home. I was able to do just about everything I planned to do, on a hot day. And got a few more NPS stamps.

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  • 04Jul 2016

    19 Spending the 4th with the Amish and President 04.07.2016 USA —

    Lancaster, USA

    Beschreibung

    It was the 4th of July (also known as Independence Day in the US, or America's Birthday), and my job ended a few days ago. I was not looking for another one, as I wanted to do some traveling. And on this day, I decided to take a trip to Lancaster.

    I have been there numerous times before, and decided to visit one of the Amish attractions. I left in the morning, and drove out to Lancaster. The sky looked gray, and while I like cloud cover, I was worried about rain. I had a little trouble finding the place, until I remember reading somewhere, that it was next to a Target. So I went there, and found the Amish Farm and House.

    So who is the Amish? In short, they are a Christian religious group that pretty much lives mostly separate from the rest of society, and don't rely on electricity going through their homes. But not necessarily cut themselves off completely from the outside world, as they do shop at department stores, and will occasionally get rides in motor vehicles. But they do keep the outside world at arms length.

    Also known as Pennsylvania Dutch in this state, which is actually a mis-pronunciation of the term "Deutsch", as they actually speak an early dialect of German. They trace back to the 16th century in Switzerland, within the Mennonite group, but would later split from them. Lancaster County has the 2nd largest Amish population in the country, only Holmes County in Ohio is larger.

    Obviously, there is a lot more to who the Amish are, but you would be better off looking it up on Wikipedia and other sites for more information.

    I went inside the building, and decided to just tour this place. I would walk around on the grounds, seeing various buildings on an Amish farm, including a blacksmith shop and an one-room schoolhouse. As the name indicated, it is also a farm, which meant, there were farm animals at this place. I would stop halfway, so I can join the guided tour of the house. Then resume seeing the farm grounds, until I was done.

    After I finished seeing this place, I would leave, but could not believe that a shopping center was basically covering up this place. I was told by the staff there, that this place was in danger of being knocked down, when the developer of the land, wanted to put the Target and other stores there.

    Leaving the place, I headed to President James Buchanan's Wheatland. I had this quest to visit the US Presidents sites, whether it's homes or memorials, or whatever. Though, finding a definitive list is just impossible, as some would list places that are not open to the public. Anyway, I was able to find this place, as I did visit this place before. But never got to tour the home.

    So who is James Buchanan? He was the 15th President of the US, from 1857 to 1861. And sometimes referred to, as the guy who came before Abraham Lincoln. Buchanan would be the only President from Pennsylvania, and the only one who would never marry. His niece, Harriet Lane, would serve as his First Lady. And the first one to ever be called "First Lady".

    Now considered one of the worst Presidents of all-time, as he basically just made things a lot worse in the country, which would lead to the Civil War between North and South, over the issue of slavery and other things. From what I have read and heard, he certainly did not seem interested in being President, as it was not so much what he did, but he did not do. And when he left office, he was really relieved, as if a huge burden was lifted off his shoulders. The Presidency was clearly not what it cracked up to be.

    I would start with touring of his mansion. I did have a hard time keeping up with the tour guide, as I always wanted to take photos of the room, without any people in it. After touring the mansion, I would pay extra to see the Exhibit Gallery, which contained artfiacts from the Lancaster County area.

    After seeing Wheatland, I decided to head to Hershey.

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  • 04Jul 2016

    20 Having a Rainy, Sweet Time! 04.07.2016 USA —

    Hershey, USA

    Beschreibung

    As I left Lancaster and headed to Hershey, it started to rain a bit. I was hoping it would hold off long enough, until I got home. It would take me about an hour to get there, and the first time in a long time.

    I have been to Hershey a bunch of times, mainly to visit Hersheypark amusement park, and the nearby Chocolate World. At one point, it was an annual tradition to go there a few times per summer, during the late 90's and early 2000's. It ended when it started to get really too costly. And I have not been there since around 2010 (I think)!

    But before arriving into Hershey, I would stop by a Pizza Hut to get some dinner. I originally wanted to eat at the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet, that I used to go to during some of my annual visits. But it seemed like it was long gone! So it was to one of the few dine-in Pizza Huts that are left in this country. After eating a small supreme pizza, I headed to the Hershey attractions.

    Hershey is a town that was built on... you guessed it... chocolate! It was founded by Milton Hershey, who would come up with the chocolate bar that would bear his name. I also knew it for its hockey team, the Hershey Bears, who were once the AHL affiliate of the Flyers. And where Wilt Chamberlain would score 100 points in a single NBA game in 1962, for the Philadelphia Warriors, in Hersheypark Arena for a neutral game.

    As I arrived into Hershey, I decided to visit some of the attractions that I have overlooked or skipped in previous visits. Starting with the Hershey Story, The Museum on Chocolate Avenue.

    I did have some trouble finding it, as I did notice the street lights shaped like Hershey kisses. And it started to rain a little harder. I did find the museum, and luckily, parking was free. Once I parked the car, I went to the museum. Then looked around the place, as I hope it would stop raining when I was done. Then ended the museum visit, with the temporary exhibition, Chocolate Workers Wanted. This told the types of work that was done in the Hershey plant, to make the candy. Some of them included making the chocolate, and the shapes, as well as the wrapping and other different processes.

    After seeing the museum, I would head to ZooAmerica - North American Wildlife Park, which was part of Hersheypark. Unfortunately, it started to rain harder, and wondered if I should visit the zoo, as I will be outside most of the times. Well, I decided to go, since I made it this far, and not sure the next time I would visit.

    Well, I started to question that decision, as it really started to rain a little bit harder, with no signs of stopping anything soon. I would go through the gift shop, then start my walk around the zoo. A very small zoo, I was able to see most of it in less than an hour. Also, I did rush through some of the outdoor parts, as it started to pour. I tried to see and photograph as much as I can, but had to give up as I did not want to get soaked. So I ended up cutting my visit a little short.

    I headed back to the gift shop, and tried to dry up for a little bit. Then back out, to the car. I went to Hershey's Chocolate World. I have been here before many times, and still find enjoyment, mainly for the fresh chocolate that is on sale. There are also attractions in this place, but only one that was free.

    I would shop for some chocolate candy bars, and oh boy, the price of each individual bar has definitely gone up. Over $1 now, which is unbelievable. Probably a good thing, so I won't go overboard with buying so many. Well, I bought 4 king-sized bars, which seem have gotten smaller over the years. Then left the place, as it got late.

    Unfortunately, it has not stopped raining, and at times, there would be downpours. Walking to the car was one thing, but having to drive through the storm was a whole other story. It was not fun at all, and being nighttime, just made it a lot harder.

    I would drive slow on the highway, as I tend to be a defensive driver. There were trucks that would end up passing me in the left lane, but I did get nervous when trying to drive fast in the rain.

    I did make it back home safely. Despite the rain, this day has been an enjoyable one, getting to see a little bit more of Pennsylvania again. I am sure I will make more trips to that part of the state and more, as there are still more to do. And no doubt, they will be written about in this blog.

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  • 29Sep 2016

    21 Meeting Ian (Dr_Seuss) 29.09.2016 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    I learned that Ian would be coming to Philly. At first, it looked like that I would not be able to meet him, since I was going through the moving process during that time. But the moving process ended earlier than expected, so that allowed me to meet up with him.

    I would have to take the train into the city, and walked to the Liberty Bell Center. And oh boy, it was raining, which would mean, this will be a tough day to enjoy.

    I waited around the entrance, until Ian arrived, with his wife, Janice. They were daytripping from Washington DC, part of their trip in the US. And we went inside the building, to see the Liberty Bell. We would skip all the other displays, as they had only a short time in Philly.

    After seeing the bell, we then went to the Independence Visitor Center, to see if there are any tickets left to tour Independence Hall. Turned out that there were, and we got 3 of them. Then walked back towards Independence Hall, and got in line for security on the East Wing side.

    After going through security, we went inside the East Wing of Independence Hall. As it has been raining steadily, it was nice to be somewhere inside and dry. After a short introduction, we were shown around the first floor of the place. But to my surprise, that was all we would see. No visit to the 2nd floor. Not sure why, and I did not get a chance to ask, as we had to leave the building. Kind of disappointing, in a way.

    Being in the area, we decided to visit Congress Hall. I have been here before, but this time, I would see more of it. I was not aware that there was a 2nd floor to visit. But we got to see it, on a guided tour. Turned out, there was more to see. So a different visit this time. Congress Hall was once the home of US Congress when Philadelphia was the capital, from 1790 to 1800. The entrance is only accessible, after you went through security to get into the Independence Hall area.

    Originally built as the Philadelphia County Courthouse, this building has seen some history during that time. It has seen second inauguration of George Washington, as well as the inauguration of John Adams. Plus this was where the ratification of the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution took place, among other things. The 1st floor has the House of Representatives, which is not very big, since there were only 16 states at the time. The Senate is on the 2nd floor, with portraits of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

    After seeing Congress Hall, we proceeded to the Great Essentials Exhibit of the West Wing, which I visited before. But now that I think of it, I feel that this is a separate attraction. It houses the copies of the following documents… Declaration of Independence, US Constitution and Articles of Confederation. Displayed in the dark, to protect them from light, you will have to lift the cover to see them. And because of all this, flash photography is not allowed. I did take photos of them and posted them here, but they are hard to see. Now, I have been told that these copies are older than the copies at the National Archives in Washington DC. Also on display, is the silver inkstand, which was used during the signing of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

    Afterwards, with some time left in terms of nearby free attractions that remain open, we made a stop at the National Portrait Gallery. We would stay until around closing time. Then back out, into the rain.

    We walked around the historical area, seeing some of the old buildings. Then walked all the way east, towards the Delaware River. I don't think that I ever ventured to this part of the city, as I came upon the Irish Memorial. This was a monument that commemorates the Great Hunger, that would hit Ireland in the 1840's. I did not know about this structure. Then we came to the bank of the river, seeing New Jersey on the other side.

    Afterwards, we walked all the way back. Past the historical area, as we walked around Chinatown. Then walked towards City Hall, but did not venture too close, as we did not want to stray too far from the Greyhound station. Then went inside a Starbucks, where we hung out for some time.

    After talking for some time, we had to part ways. Ian and Janice had to catch the Greyhound bus back to DC. And I had to go home.

    It was nice to meet up with both Ian and Janice, and even better that I did not have to travel far.

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  • 14Oct 2016

    22 Possible Start of Another Quest 14.10.2016 USA —

    Harrisburg, USA

    Beschreibung

    With nothing to do, I decided to take a day trip to Harrisburg, the state capital of Pennsylvania. I have been meaning to start a quest to visit all the state capitol buildings. But felt like I could not start it, unless I started with the one in my home state first.

    Leaving my home, I drove out, making a stop near Hershey. Then drove into Harrisburg. This must have been my 4th time to this city, as I have visited before. But not since 1999, and those other times have been for conferences, or field trip. And to be honest, I never thought much of this city, thinking it had nothing to offer. Well, I decided to give this city another chance.

    As I arrived into Harrisburg, I drove around, hoping to find free parking. But decided to just park very close to the building, and just pay for the meter. Then walked up the steps, to the entrance, and entered.

    I asked about the gift shop, as I hoped to get the passport book for the capitol buildings. Turned out, the gift shop closed early. And that this gift shop had stopped selling it. Either way, I would be disappointed, as I hoped to buy it in person, instead of mailing for it, and pay that extra chipping charge.

    I started touring the capitol building, looking at the architecture of the place. And visited both chambers of the state government. I had a little booklet, that gave the self-guided tour of the place.

    After seeing the original part of the capitol, I would go to the other side, where there was more to see. The East Wing, with its glass dome. It looked more like a lobby of an office building or shopping mall. This was where the gift shop was. Also, there was the Welcome Center.

    Exiting out of the building, I would look at the exterior. The fountain in front of it, had pink water flowing out of it, which was interesting to see. This was done for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

    I would walk to see Solders' Grove, a park with its 2 pillars, honors the men and women from Pennsylvania, who served in the military. Then backtracked, going back inside the capitol building, and out to the west side.

    I would run into other visitors, and would ask them to take a photo for me. But one of them would stumble, and drop my camera. I worried for him more, as it did look like he may have twisted something. But he was fine, and took my photo. Then I walked around the capitol complex, looking at the other buildings.

    I would walk along State Street, all the way to the Susquehanna River. Seeing the bridges, one of them was a pedestrian bridge that leads to an island. On that island, is FNB Field, the home of the Harrisburg Senators baseball team, the AA affiliate of the Washington Nationals. I think that would be enough reason to return to Harrisburg in the future. Not sure if that was the stadium that I actually saw.

    Going back on State Street, I would look at all the church buildings, and read about them on the description boards. Then to my car. I would leave Harrisburg, and make a quick stop in Hershey, to buy some fresh chocolate. Then head back home.

    I will admit, I did not give this place enough credit. Still, I won't go as far as to say, that it's underrated. For any visitor to PA, there are other places that I would place higher than Harrisburg. And will this be the start of another quest? Just have to wait and see.

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  • 08Nov 2016

    23 Time to Check This Out 08.11.2016 USA —

    Columbia, USA

    Beschreibung

    Arriving into the town of Columbia, I headed to the National Watch and Clock Museum. I have been to this place a few times before, but not for over a decade. So I decided to make another visit. This town looked like an old one, with a main street and a residential area.

    I went inside the museum, paid admission, and looked around. As the name would indicate, this museum is full of old clocks and watches. But it is more than just a display of the different types of clocks. More about this place itself, along with a lot more photos of the different types, in the review here.

    I will mention about some of the temporary exhibitions, where photography was not allowed at all. But I did not always obeyed this rule, as there was no one else around.

    There was one that was about timekeeping in relation to religion, and how they did it. And another having some old watches in relation to pop culture and even Presidential elections.

    As it turned out, I was the only visitor to come to this place during the entire day. It may be due to being the off-season, or that it is Election Day. Whatever the case, it was kind of scary being the only person in the museum, with a bunch of old clocks. And hearing the ticking, which at some parts, is the only sound that I would hear. It was really something.

    After seeing the museum, I would look around the gift shop for a bit. Then left, as the place was about to close. Then I went to a nearby Burger King to eat dinner. And watch the TV screen there, watching the election count unfold.

    As I left, I did talk to a guy, and we were in agreement that this election had no good candidates. But I did not ask who he voted for, knowing how it could erupt into an ugly argument. Afterwards, I started my way towards Hershey, as I wanted to get some really fresh chocolate.

    But after driving for 10 minutes, I decided to turn around, as it was a long drive from the town of Columbia. I did not want to get back home too late, so I went back home instead. I made it back, not too late.

    Despite the election, it had been a good day overall, getting to see a few more sites in my home state. And reminds me that there are interesting places to visit near where I live.

    I would find out the results of this election much later, as it seemed to take forever. I will leave it at that.

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  • 19Dec 2016

    24 A Philly Christmas IV 19.12.2016 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    Taking a trip to downtown, mainly to keep my Christmas traditions going in Philly. Having to take the bus and train into the city, I would arrive at City Hall. And see that the Christmas Village has been relocated there, due to renovation work being done at its usual home, LOVE Park.

    I walked through it, as the shops are all over the place. And they managed to put a merry-go-round in the middle of City Hall Square. I continued on, until I got to the Macy's department store. I saw that there were different window displays, with a couple classics from years past. After my recent Christmas trip to New York, I learned that the window displays have a different theme each year. And they can be interesting to look at. This year's theme is "Reason to Believe".

    I went inside, mainly to see the light show and walk through Dickens Village. A reminder that another year has passed, and how fast it has gone. Just like that.

    After seeing those things, I went back out, to look at the window displays again. And take photos, as they would come out better. But would have some issues with my camera.

    I went back to the Christmas Village, looking for the Kathe Wohlfahrt. Not easy to find, but I thought it would not happen this year. But I did find it, and walked through that as well. Then walked around more of the area.

    I considered walking all the way to Penn's Landing, to see more of the Christmas displays. But it was too far, and it was getting late. I had to get back home as soon as I can, as there were some things to do.

    Still, I am happy that these traditions have continued on for me. And maybe I should start a spinoff blog on Christmas travels, as this is becoming a thing with me.

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  • 01Jan 2017

    25 Seeing Christmas Garden to Start New Year 01.01.2017 USA —

    Kennett Square, USA

    Beschreibung

    The start of 2017, as I would spend most of the day at home. When sunset was approaching, my mom wanted to go to Longwood Gardens, mainly to check out the Christmas displays there. I was very open to the idea, and did consider going earlier. And with the weather being moderate, as it was not as cold as it would normally be at this time of year, it seemed like a very good time to go.

    We would drive all the way to the town of Kennett Square, in the Brandywine Valley area. Not too far from the Brandywine Battlefield. Arrived at Longwood Gardens, where the parking lot was already filled up, which was not really surprising. After parking, we went to the visitor center, where we had to pay for tickets. We went through the building, and out through the other side, to enter the garden.

    I have been to Longwood Gardens a bunch of times, most of them being for Christmas visits. I can't remember the last time I was there in the daytime, but it was must have been when I was a kid, back in the 1980's. A botanical garden, consisting of plants both outside and inside. But since I was only going to focus on the Christmas part, there is no review of it, at least this time from me.

    Starting with a fountain show, set to the music of Christmas tunes. With its changing color pattern, it was really nice to see. But tricky to photograph, which would be the common theme of this visit.

    My mom and I would walk around the outdoor area, seeing the Christmas lights throughout the area. And they were really nice to look at. The lights on a bunch of trees, and the variety of colors on them. We would come to the Peirce-du Pont House, which has a Christmas tree. We just walked through it quickly, then back out. Then came to a treehouse, which I went up and down in. Then came to a model train set, which I always like looking at.

    We would come to the Conservatory, and went inside, to see more Christmas displays. There were a variety of trees to see. I would walk through it faster than I wanted to, since I was with my mom. Plus I did have issues with photography, as I can never remember whether to take photos with flash or not. Always a tricky thing to do, as I won't know how they really turned out until I get home, to a regular computer.

    Walked through the entire Conservatory, seeing a variety of plants, plus Christmas displays. Then back out, to see a little bit more. Then we left Longwood Gardens, and headed back home.

    It may be after Christmas, but I am glad to have gone and see these displays, with my mom. And that will be it, with visiting Christmas sites. I am sure to resume doing this next Christmas season.

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  • 17Mar 2017

    26 Philadelphia Flower Show 2 17.03.2017 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    This was my second flower show that I have attended, hence why the title just has the number at the end of it, representing the number of flower shows in Philly that I have attended in my lifetime.

    I would end up going on a Friday night, and that turned out to be a bit of a mistake. Not surprisingly, it was more crowded, and I felt like that I did not get to see and take photos as much as I could have. Plus I was relying on my cell phone, since my camera was having some problem.

    The theme of this flower show was "Holland", which celebrating the country of the Netherlands, also known as Holland. I have been to that country once, mainly Amsterdam. More about that trip in this blog here... Netherlands 2010.

    Starting from the entrance, I walked around the Entrance Garden, which has a Dutch bridge, surrounded by tulips. As the Netherlands does have a tradition with tulips, as well as bikes, as shown in the displays at this show. So I would see them in some of the other floral displays. Plus the different artwork with table settings and front entrances, as well as history of flowers in the Netherlands on display.

    I would have around 4 hours to see this place, just like last year. I assumed it would be enough time, but this time, I would run out of time, as I had to hurry to see as much as I can. It was really crowded, and this time, stayed crowded until closing time. Some people even brought their dogs to the show, which I was not aware that pets were allowed.

    Since I took a bunch of photos of many of the displays, I will let them speak for themselves. Organized the same way as before, with the photo of the sign being the first of the group, followed by photos of the displays.

    It was an enjoyable flower show to attend, as I did like the floral displays. I definitely plan to make this annual thing, as much as I can.

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  • 05Sep 2017

    27 Visiting President's Grave 05.09.2017 USA —

    Lancaster, USA

    Beschreibung

    As I have recently added 2 more quests in my travels, I decided to re-visit a couple of places. One of them was visiting the burial sites of the US Presidents, and taking a photo with me in them. I know that sounds kind of morbid. But I also learned that I was not alone in this quest.

    I have visited George Washington's tomb recently, and have been to a couple others. But those couple others, not a photo with me in them. Probably the OCD (Obsessively-Compulsive Disorder) in me, as I tend to insist on doing certain things in a certain way. One of those was the tomb of James Buchanan, which I visited before. Luckily, it is still only beginning of this quest.

    So I left home, and drove out to Lancaster. I decided to take some back roads, following Google Maps, and pass through some farmlands. And stopped by a McDonald's for lunch.

    When arriving at Woodward Hill Cemetery in Lancaster, I walked to Buchanan's tomb. And took multiple photos, using a selfie stick. Not easy to do, with the sun glare on the phone screen, which can make it tricky. I am still learning to use the cheap selfie stick, as sometimes, I find myself being the only person at some places. There was no one else there, to take a photo for me.

    After taking the photos, I left the cemetery. And that is one thing done, on this day trip. Back in the car, I drove on to Harrisburg.

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  • 05Sep 2017

    28 State Capitol and Civil War 05.09.2017 USA —

    Harrisburg, USA

    Beschreibung

    As I arrived into Harrisburg, I drove to the Pennsylvania State Capitol building, which I have visited earlier. I would make a quick visit, and get a stamp for my Capitol Collection book.

    This book is like the NPS Passport book, but with capitol buildings. I would learn of this book, from Bill (Zagnut66), after saying that I may consider adding another quest. I thought it was sold in gift shops, but turns out, they have to be bought online. In case anyone is wondering, it is this web site... The Capitol Collection.

    Arriving there, I made a very quick visit, and got my first stamp in the book. Then came back out, as I only paid for a very short time for parking. That accomplished my 2nd goal for the day. But I also had another attraction in mind.

    Leaving the Captiol area, I drove to the National Civil War Museum. It would have been quite a distance, if I walked there. And then, going up a hill. I learned that there were no buses that went to this museum. So good thing that I came by car, as I have considered coming to Harrisburg another way.

    I would enter into the museum, and looked around. I had a little less than 2 hours to see this place. And hoped to see it all, as I have been meaning to visit this place.

    But I would not see it all, as there is a lot to see in this place. The museum was all about the American Civil War, which happened from 1861 to 1865. It went in chronological order, from the beginning to the end. And there were a couple temporary exhibitions, with one of them being on Reconstruction, which was about civil rights after the war. The other being about honoring the war veterans of the Civil War.

    I ran out of time, and was not able to see everything, and skimmed through the temporary exhibitions. But I really did like this museum, as it would give a more balanced view of the war, telling both sides of the story.

    When exiting the building, I saw that it was raining very hard. At first, I tried to wait it out. But realizing that it was not going to stop anytime soon, I had to venture into the rain. Then drive through it.

    I made a couple stops, one of them at a Sam's Club. Then a quick stop at Chocolate Town in Hershey, to get some fresh chocolate bars. I arrived there, about 5 minutes before closing. I ran inside the shop, and bought a few bars. Then back out, and started to head home.I would drive most of the way in the rain. But luckily, it would later stop, as I did make it back home.

    It was a fun day trip, and one that I wanted to do, just to make sure I did things in a certain way. Now, I do plan to do a similar one for New Jersey.

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  • 22Dec 2017

    29 Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor 22.12.2017 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    After seeing that the Franklin Institute was having the special exhibition, Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor, I had to go see this myself. Went into the city, and to the Franklin Institute. I would go on a Friday night with my mom, as this was the only time where we just pay admission for this special exhibit, instead of paying for both this and the museum. We tend to skip the museum part, so no point in paying for that. Just saved some money there.

    Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor is an exhibition on the collection of the different statues of the warriors, that served as guards of the tomb of the first emperor of China. Created 2000 years ago, there are a bunch of these statues on display in China. Only a handful of these statues were on display here at the Franklin Institute.

    In addition to the different statues, there were some artifacts on display, along with interactive exhibits. The whole exhibition was relatively small, as there was not nearly as much to see, compared to some of the other exhibitions that I have seen. So it did not take long to see.

    My mom has actually seen the real thing in China, so she may not have been nearly as impressed with this exhibition. I thought it was good, though I know this is no substitute for seeing the real thing. If anything, this can serve as a possible preview of a future trip for me. And a good way to spend a Friday night.

    After seeing this part, we just went back home. I always enjoy seeing these types of exhibitions, and do hope to see more in the future.

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  • 27Dec 2017

    30 World's Nativities 27.12.2017 USA —

    Bryn Athyn, USA

    Beschreibung

    It was a very cold day, as I had my sister's family came over for Christmas. For this day, we decided to visit the Glencairn Museum, to see the exhibition, World's Nativities. I would go with my mom, and my sister and her family would soon follow, to the museum.

    I was able to borrow a museum pass to this attraction, from a local library. So we were able to enter the place for free, sort of speak. This did save us a lot of money.

    Arriving there, as the Glencairn Museum was located in the Philly suburb of Bryn Athyn. Once we got there, we came up to a huge church building. Then went inside, to look around.

    World's Nativities was an exhibition of miniature settings of the nativity scene from different parts of the world. From Europe to Africa. to Latin America. Seeing the different types, and the cultural influence in them, made them really impressive to see. I really enjoyed seeing these miniature sets, as there is a great attention to detail. The photographs will tell a much better story of these miniature sets, rather than me describe each one.

    After seeing these sets, we all just went back home. While I was not in the mood at the beginning, I ended up being glad that my mom came up with the idea to see this place. I do like visiting Christmas attractions.

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  • 10Mar 2018

    31 Philadelphia Flower Show 3 10.03.2018 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Beschreibung

    As going to the Philadelphia Flower Show has become an annual tradition, as this would be my 3rd straight year going to it. I would go on a Saturday, as it seemed like this would be the only time that I would have. And I was running out of time to see it.

    I made sure that I arrived there early enough. And this time, I would have a different camera and cell phone. The camera used to be my mom's, and the cell phone is an updated one. My old phone broke down. So it will be interesting to see how these will work out, as I don't like the change of devices.

    The theme of this flower show was "Wonders of Water". Not sure what to expect, other than flower displays with water.

    I arrived at the flower show, and entered the convention center. Then walked around the flower show, following the map by the numbers on it. I did try to follow it in order, taking many photos of the displays. As water tends to be very tricky to photograph, as it often does not come out as good as it would look. I was not sure how these photos will turn out, when I have to check them later on.

    Unlike last year, I did have enough time to see as much as I wanted to. I was able to see almost all of the flower displays, plus the other parts. I have to admit, I found myself not as impressed this time around. I guess it is hard to do this show at a high level every time. As someone would often say, no one bats a thousand. That is not to say that this was terrible. It definitely was not. Just compared to the previous two, I was not as impressed with this one.

    I will let the photos speak for themselves, as they will showcase this year's flower show. And see if the cell phone will be my main camera to take photos on future trips.

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  • 28Jul 2018

    32 Visiting My 20th Zoo 28.07.2018 USA —

    Schnecksville, USA

    Beschreibung

    I decided to take a day trip, as I have not traveled anywhere this year. The TravBuddy site has shut down, and I had to look elsewhere to blog. But I digress too soon already here.

    I decided on the Lehigh Valley, visiting the zoo there, plus a re-visit to the IronPigs game. Perhaps a re-start of visiting minor league ballparks, as I considered visiting all the affiliated teams. But this would have to be a lower priority for the time being. For now, I will try to visit the nearby ones first, before going elsewhere.

    This day trip was really needed for me, as I have to start traveling again. With so much other things that has happened, and what I had to deal with, it made it very difficult to travel anywhere. And lost complete motivation.

    I got off to a late start, as I considered not going. But after checking the cars, I finally made myself to go. I would get on the PA Turnpike, driving north on the Northeast Extension, to the Lehigh Valley area. I have been there a few times already, with my last visit in 2009. You can read about that visit in the blog entry here.

    Arriving in the Allentown area, I would drive to the town of Schnecksville. Then through a mountainous forest area, to my first destination, the Lehigh Valley Zoo. I would go through a covered bridge, then a loop in a park, until I found the zoo. When I arrived, I parked and went to the zoo. This would be the 20th zoo since 2015, since zoos became part of my travels.

    After paying admission, the first thing I would see, is the pool of the African penguins. I saw some of them swimming. Then walked down one side of the zoo, seeing some North American animals, like the river otter, snowy owl and raccoon. When reaching one end, where I would see farm animals, where there were the chickens, sheep and others. And the Goat Barn, to see a group of goats.

    I would start going up the other side, seeing Australian and African animals. And more North American animals, as I came back towards the entrance. And back to the pool, where there was penguin feeding happening.

    I went inside the Reptile & Amphibian Discovery Center, which has a small collection of those types of animals. After seeing this part, I was done, and headed out of the zoo. More about this zoo and more photos in the zoo blog.

    Getting back to the car, I would leave the zoo and make a brief stop at the covered bridge, to get a photo of it. Then continued towards Allentown. I made a stop at a Burger King, as I have not eaten much throughout the day. So I picked up a meal there.

    After the meal, I drove back to Allentown.

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  • 28Jul 2018

    33 Seeing Two Without Knowing 28.07.2018 USA —

    Allentown, USA

    Beschreibung

    Coming back into Allentown, I made a short stop at a LA Fitness, to take a quick shower there. After that, I went to Coca-Cola Park, following the directions on my phone. And arrived there with no problem. Though, I would go into the parking lot in a different way, compared to my visit in 2009. Hard to believe that it has been that long since my 1st visit.

    After parking the car, I walked to the ballpark, and to the entrance. When noticing a player shown on the scoreboard, I realized that the game was progress already. This really confused me, as I arrived around 6:00pm, and the start time was suppose to be 6:30pm. So what gives? I would ask an usher about this.

    Turned out, that last night's game was rained out, resulting in a doubleheader for this day. So I would be seeing 2 games for the price of 1. Entering into the stadium, I looked around, deciding to make one loop around it. I would see "Pigs to the Bigs", a wall of names of the IronPigs players that have played in Major League Baseball. I did recognize some of the names. Then continued my walk around the stadium.

    Coca-Cola Park is the home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. They are the triple-A affiliate of the Phillies, and part of the North Division of the International League. This was the first minor league game that I have ever went to, back in 2009. And now, possibly a re-start to include minor league ballparks in a future quest of my travels. But I will worry about that at another time.

    I would come to the Pig Pen, which is a grassy area where people can bring their blankets and have a picnic while watching the game. Sounds interesting, but not my thing. I walked around the stadium, as I would see the standings of the division that the IronPigs are in, along with the game's lineups. I came to my seat, in the middle of Game 1.

    When sitting, I remembered all the advertisements, all over the place. And that has not changed at all today. Whenever the Pigs hit a home run, I would see some fire coming out of one of the poles. Or something like that, as it is hard to describe. And it was Minions Night.

    The Lehigh Valley IronPigs took on the Columbus Clippers, playing 2 games. In the 1st game, the IronPigs fell behind 5-0 very quickly. But they would come back with 2 home runs and more, to win the game 8-5. I was surprised to learn that the game was only 7 innings. Turned out, that is normally the case with doubleheader games. A good thing for me, as I would not be returning home too late.

    A 30-minute gap, until the 2nd game. This time, there was no doubt about this one, as the IronPigs jumped to a 9-0 lead. 3 home runs were hit, as they won this game, 10-5. Thus, sweep the doubleheader.

    I considered leaving afterwards, and skipping the postgame fireworks. But I did stay and watched it. This one was better than the 2009 one. After the show ended, I went back to the car, and left the stadium.

    Unfortunately, I got lost and ended up somewhere in Allentown. Eventually, I was able to find my way, and got back on the highway. And drove back home. I did not get back nearly as late as I originally thought. And this ended the side trip.

    I was glad to make this side trip, as it was very much needed. I visited a zoo and a re-visit to a baseball stadium. First time traveling since the closure of TravBuddy. Still trying to get used to that. What will come next? I still have not decided yet.

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