Recently, I have become infatuated with the music of Beats Antique, and was determined to see them live. Coincidentally, they happened to be on tour since their latest album just came out on October 15. However, the closest they would be to my location in Baltimore was Philadelphia. I am not one who easily gives up in the face of adversity though, so I decided to use this opportunity to take a nice little vacation to Philadelphia. As I promised in one of my last entries, I am going to give you a more detailed account of the journey.
Driving in to the city, it felt a lot like home. Some elements really reminded me of Baltimore, but once I got into the city, it felt like the better comparison would be New York. I learned two important things very quickly in Philadelphia: Parking sucks, and is expensive. Luckily they have a fairly decent mass transit system and where we stayed we could walk to most places easily. When it came time to drive anywhere, it was damn near impossible to find parking. Even once you did, there was no way you were parking in a garage for less than $14.00. If you plan to go, research locations of every place you wish to visit and construct an itinerary so you can only park once and walk or take public transit to the numerous sites you wish to visit. If you don’t, you’ll be spending a lot of money just on parking.
The hotel we stayed at wasn’t the fanciest place, but they did have these really awesome chandeliers that reminded me of jellyfish in the lobby…. So cool.
The levels of the parking garage were very American History themed as well, which gave me infinite amusement after I posted an image of the level we parked on (Ben Franklin Level) and a friend suggested they were like bosses in a video game. “After you beat Ben Franklin, the next boss is John Adams.” XD
The first day, after checking in and getting settled, we made a trip down to Reading Terminal for lunch. There were a lot of really interesting shops and restaurants in this little market, and the setup reminded me a little bit of markets I had been to in Tokyo when I used to live in Japan. I wished we had something like this closer to home. The Cross Street Market in Baltimore didn’t even compare.
The next stop included some more historic sights, mainly Independence Hall. The tour was free, though there isn’t too much to see. Nevertheless, it was interesting to see the place where America was essentially “born”. I wanted to see the Liberty Bell, but the time was not available, so I only viewed the bell from a distance, unfortunately. We wandered over to a nearby park which I later found out was Washington Square. The park was lovely and quite lively, even when we walked through the area again later that night there were several people around exercising. One interesting feature of the park was the gravesite of an unknown revolutionary war soldier. An eternal flame lights their grave in honor of their service.
After this bit of sight-seeing, we got ready for the show and headed down to South Street to the Theater of Living Arts for the concert. I made sure to wear something belly dance appropriate. The venue was intimate. The show was phenomenal. Beats Antique did not disappoint. Zoe Jakes performed for about every other song, each song she had a different costume and every single look was incredible. Her stage presence was so intense; watching her I wished I had even a fraction of her skill. I left that show with an intense desire to take belly dancing lessons. The crowd at the show was pretty good, the highlight of the evening, aside from the actual show, was when the whole crowd joined in on singing Bohemian Rhapsody once the house lights came on.
It was pretty epic. I wish I could find a video on youtube. But all I have are these cell phone shots of the awesomeness that is Zoe Jakes.
After the show, I did the next obligatory action all visitors must do in Philadelphia…..I got myself a philly cheesesteak. We grabbed ours from Jim’s on South Street, which I hear is supposed to be one of the best. If you know Philly and have additional recommendations, please share! I intend to go back in the future, and would love to sample other places. 🙂
The following day, we continued our adventure by visiting the Magic Garden on South Street. The Magic Garden is an artwork museum of sorts. The entire property is a work of art, covered in mosaic work by Isaiah Zagar. It was an amazing sight to see, I definitely recommend visiting if you are ever in the area. Honestly, I’d love to do a shoot here! Visit their website for more info here.
After the Magic Gardens, we continued the artistic theme by visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The place is HUGE and there is so much to see there…They have a Japanese tea house (which you know I was all about, with my Japan addiction), an Indian temple, a gothic cathedral, a collection of arma and armor, and of course a huge collection of artworks from all over the world…the displays ranged from modern pieces to pieces older than the time of Christ (most of these could be found in the Chinese section). It was amazing to see the development of art across the world trough time and how cultures influenced each other. Of course, photography wasn’t allowed in most areas but I could take pictures of some things to share….. The most interesting pieces were Barbara Chase-Ribound’s Malcom X series of sculptures. There were so unique and different. My favorite was a red one titled “All That Rises Must Converge”.
In closing, Philly was a lot of fun, and I really want to go back soon for another weekend adventure. I saw lots of cool sites along the way, so hopefully a photo shoot will be in my future. I leave you with a gallery of sights. Enjoy!