Next up, Philadelphia.
Heading south out of The Big Apple, the closest big city on our radar was Philadelphia.
Famous for The Declaration of Independence, Liberty Bell, Reading Terminal Market….. and Rocky Balboa, It’s roughly two hours drive to get there on excellent roads and to get there we had three options. Taxi, car rental or hitch a ride. Trains and busses from New York do not permit dogs unless they’re service dogs so public transport was a non starter.
Hiring a car in the US is very inexpensive if you’re returning it to the same location. To drop off somewhere else can add up to $50-$500 to your cost depending where and when. Add in fuel, tolls and extras like SatNav then taking a taxi may be the better option as prices can compare favourably if you can pre arrange a fee with the taxi company. We looked at a third option; hitching a ride. Not the same as thumbing it on the side of the freeway with four suitcases and a dog, but checking out the classified ads on sites like Craigslist for rideshare, travel companions etc. So we took a chance and after a few emails arranged a pick up time and price. This worked out well and most probably saved us between fifty and one hundred bucks. And despite some reservations, our ride was pleasant. The driver wasn’t psychotic with a bloodied axe or sawn off from previous hitchers hidden under his seat and he dropped us off right outside the door of our next apartment wishing us well on our travels.
A one bedroom first floor apartment in Philly would be our home for the next seven nights and was close to the city centre in the plush and historic colonial style neighbourhood of Society Hill [though we could see no hill].
Within a couple of blocks of Independence Hall and Liberty Bell, its centre boasted several restaurants, shops and bars and only a five minute walk to the Delaware river, which was great for the dog too. Within thirty minutes you could walk to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway which houses the Philadelphia Art Museum and sits on top of the famous Rocky steps where groups of runners, including Tracy, Hamish and I, would jog the 72 steps to recreate scenes from the movie franchise.
After the bustle of Harlem and New York City, the slower pace of Philadelphia was welcome and much more dog friendly in parks and restaurants. It was great to take it easy and just relax. Our only beef was the apartment wasn’t cleaned to the highest standard [we had to re-wash the bed sheets], the oven wouldn’t open and on our second day the gas supply was cut off due to an unpaid bill [though this was rectified after 24 hours, and we were compensated $150 for our trouble at the restaurant of our choice].
We would have stayed longer than one week but the the weather wasn’t the kindest, it rained for a couple of days and was a lot cooler than NYC, leaves were turning brown and starting to fall. Heading south to warmer climes was in our foremost thoughts. The city was also in the process of being closed down due to the visit of Pope Francis. Locals were also cashing in on this and raising the prices of accommodation due to demand. The population of the city was due to double for the duration of the visit as pilgrims moved in to catch a glimpse of the Pontif; it was time to move on.
The big holy arrival at Capitol Hill also scuppered our plans to visit Washington DC. Fully booked accommodation and inflated prices scared us off and to regroup we diverted to Atlantic City for a few days – no danger the Pope was going to visit the Jersey shore gambling equivalent of Las Vegas….