Tales of Philly: Day 2, I Never Knew Love Could Be Like This

I’m just going to pretend like I haven’t waited three months to continue the telling of our trip to Philadelphia back in April… It’s not weird. I’ve just been busy and lazy. As long as the story eventually gets told, it’s no biggie right?

To recap day 1: D and I drove 10 hours to get to the city, ate a delicious frigging meal, saw a few sites located near the hotel and then retired for the night. We needed to rest up so we’d be energized for a full day of Philly fun!

Oh and also, some required listening while you read this post:

We woke up feeling rested and excited. We grabbed an early breakfast of champions at none other than Dunkin’ Donuts. Because America runs on Dunkin’ and we wanted to too. It was pretty fucking filling! I had a sausage and egg croissantwich and these sweet little hash brown tater tot thingies. My overall rating? It was pretty tasty for a fast food breakfast, I’d eat it again. I’d give it a B- if I had to letter grade it.

After we fuelled up, we strapped on some comfy shoes and started our own walking tour of Philly. Starting with an easy breezy stroll through the weekend farmer’s market at Rittenhouse Square. It was gorgeous, a perfect spring day.

Rittenhouse Stone

market

beautiful park

It was so pretty! An excellent starting point. But we couldn’t hang around too long, with so much more to be seen. We definitely wanted to make sure we tackled the historic part of town too. We made our way through Market Square, City Hall, and then through to the historic sites. We cruised past the Liberty Bell, but the lineup was way too damn long. So we waved at the line and were satisfied with that. Plus, it was way too nice outside to be trapped indoors in a long ass lineup like a couple of lame tourist suckers.

old philly

First National Bank

beautiful philly

It was awesome, we made up our own walking tour. “Cartography is not my métier”, but we figured it out. The cobblestone streets were so cool, but they were rougher on our feet than we anticipated.

D walking the cobblestones

And when we got hungry, you can be damn sure we grabbed ourselves a steaming hot Philly Cheesesteak for lunch! There were a lot of choices, an overwhelming amount of cheesesteaks places to choose from. We opted for a place called Steve’s. We like that name, it seemed reliable. Ole Steve wouldn’t serve no crap, right?

Steve's

And he’s the Prince of Steaks, so you can’t argue with that. We practiced our cheesesteak ordering skills before we even considered getting in line. One thing I learned before the trip was that people in Philly take their cheesesteak very seriously. And they don’t like being held up in the line by n00bs who don’t know how to order. We were not going to be n00bs. We were going to blend in and act like we belonged. So when we got up to the counter and the guy asked for our order we replied “1 provolone wit out” like it weren’t no thang.

The meat was savoury. The cheese was oh-so-warm-and-gooey. The bread was crisp and toasty. Philly’s famous cheesesteak sandwich vastly exceeded all of our expectations.

I also ordered a fried chicken sandwich for comparison purposes, and we were both feeling that too. So we had a little mix-and-match sandwich picnic on our vacation. And it was goddamn delightful.

We continued our adventures of the city, walking everywhere we went. We walked all over the place, I think we really made an excellent go of it. We made our way towards South Street and got to see the Magic Gardens. It’s this really cool place, it’s all mosaicked. I’ve never seen anything quite like it in all of my life. It was so totally unique and inviting.

I got D to take a sweet panoramic picture of the exterior.

Magic Gardens

South Street was a really cool and happening place. It reminded me of Queen Street West back home in Toronto. The people were hip and all of the shops and bars were hopping.

South Street

When we decided to rest our feet before the concert we found this great bar called Manny Brown’s for some afternoon drinks. Just idling and enjoying a few brews. When we sat down and the server told us it was $2.75 for a pint of Yuengling we knew we’d made the right choice.

A Pint of Yuengling

And just when I started to think it couldn’t possibly get any better than that, the best thing ever happened.

A dog walks into the bar and hops up onto a bar stool. No joke. This happened five feet away from us. And it was fucking awesome. There’s a dog at the bar!

Dog at the bar

And I got to pet him!

petting the bar dog

That dog was so chill. It was seriously the coolest thing ever. All kinds of people were coming over to get photos with him and the bartender even poured him his own glass of water at one point.

We had an absolutely fantastic afternoon exploring the city. And the best was still yet to come! The concert. Oh man, I was so pumped. I felt like a spoiled little kid. It was like I got to spend the whole day at a frigging amusement park with VIP passes to the front of all the lines, and then my parents decide to cap the night off with ice cream sundaes on a yacht or something. It was an overload of amazingness.

TMBG marquee

An Evening with They Might Be Giants. Life doesn’t get any better than this.

We lined up outside the theatre with all the nerds and waited anxiously to get inside. When they finally started letting us all in, D and I immediately booked it for a spot on the upper level of the TLA right in front of a nice comfy ledge to lean on. It was standing room only, and we’re both shorties, so we had to be strategic like that or we wouldn’t see anything at all. Our only mistake was spending an entire day right before a 3+ hour-long concert walking an entire city. D’oh!

Our feet were aching like a mofo by the end of the night. But the amazing high of the concert was able to keep us going.

They Might Be Giants just killed it. They are so special and wonderful. Pretty much everyone I talked to before going to the show and after we got back were like, “Who?” whenever I said the name of the band. Greatest band you’ve never heard of, that’s who they are.

They opened the show with one of my most favourite jams “Can’t Keep Johnny Down” and my heart hammered along in my chest to the beat.

TMBG

They also performed a hilarious cover of Destiny Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills” and I knew then that I could die a happy girl. It was a dream come true. Hearing John Linnell and John Flansburgh do their very damnedest to channel Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland was unreal.

TMBG 2

magic on stage

We gave everything we could to the band. All of the love in our hearts. Our loudest most thunderous applause. Our hearty laughter at all of their wacky onstage antics. It really was a concert going experience like none I’ve ever had before.

When the concert let out we finally surrendered and got ourselves a cab back to the hotel. It was late and we were exhausted. Elated, but nonetheless exhausted. My feet were pounding as I slid into the big cushy hotel bed, and even though they hurt so bad, it was worth it. It was worth every single throb of pain. Best birthday gift to myself ever.

I love you, TMBG! Thank you for the good times, you’ve made me the happiest girl in the world.

And now a little something to play you out:

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Tales of Philly: Day 1, The Road to Philly

I wanted to write while we were in Philly last weekend, but our window of time to spend there was so small, I just couldn’t bear to waste a minute of it. But before we left I promised you stories from the road, and I always keep my promises, most of the time. Onwards!

It’s a long drive to Philadelphia from Toronto. Not sure if you knew that or not, but it’s a key detail in the story of Day 1. I’m not really sure we knew what a long drive it was going to be either, until it actually started happening. In my mind road trips are all zany adventures, like in the movies. You know, like how Harry and Lloyd drive in the wrong direction for five hours or wind up losing their ride and have to get to Aspen on their wits, or lack thereof, and a stolen briefcase full of cash. It wasn’t like that at all, not even a little bit.

We had our route meticulously mapped and used D’s GPS to keep us on track. Our only real foible of the road happened when the interstate directions got a little complicated near Scranton and the GPS robot’s volume was too low to be heard over Stevie Wonder. And stupidly could not be adjusted while in use. I mean, how stupid is that? So totally stupid. We had to pull over and park in the lot of a Radisson Hotel to disconnect it so we could raise the volume. Then we spent the rest of the trip in suspicion, distrusting everything our robot navigator said the whole rest of the way. Every time she did speak from there on out, I’d give her the old hairy eyeball and tell her she better not make us lose any more time.

Time was a precious commodity. Even though we knew we were strapped in for a long haul, we were obsessed with trying to make up time. Once in a while the distance estimate on the GPS would slip down a minute or two and we’d somehow feel like we’d just beaten the devil himself at his own wily game.

The first leg of the drive was the most fun. We were full of pep and ready to take on the world. We crossed through the border at Fort Eerie and the drive was quite scenic. Lots of farms. Huge twirling wind turbines for miles and miles and miles.

new york

more new york

I mentioned that I made a bunch of mixed CD’s for the trip, yeah? Funny story about that, the first mix I made, aptly titled Road Trip to Philly: Vol. 1 turned out to be something of an epic break-up mix. Featuring such memorable hits as “Song for the Dumped”, “Divorce Song”, “Don’t Speak”, “Let Me Go”, and “All You Ever Do is Bring Me Down”, it didn’t exactly set the ideal tone for the next 9 hours in the car… whoops! My bad. But it was a good thing I packed us an absolute shit-load of candy to take the edge off. And it was also good that my next mix on deck was Road Trip to Philly: Vol. 2 Funky Disco Hits. That helped turn our beat around.

dino-sours

Thank you Jesus for this bounty of Dino-sours.

We left hella early too, like 7:30am because we wanted to avoid rush hour traffic while leaving Toronto. We didn’t really use good road trip math though, avoiding Toronto rush hour no problem, but completely ignoring the fact that based on our timing, we’d be getting into Philly during rush hour. Whoops! Another bad, but not entirely all mine. We started closing in on Philly around 4:30pm and that bitch GPS robot estimated we’d be at our hotel by 4:52pm. Unfortunately for us though, she doesn’t take into consideration traffic, so the next hour and half was pure torture. Creeping and crawling our way into the city. Sore and aching from being in the car all day. Hungry and dreaming of endless cheese steaks while our bellies rumbled away, no hope of being sated any time soon. If ever…

It sure was a beautiful day to be cooped up inside the car though. And my view from the passenger side was quite interesting at times.

Philly!

highways

When we finally did manage to squeeze ourselves into the city, the downtown core was clogged up so bad. We moved like molasses the whole way to our hotel. It totally sapped my will to live. We were there, man! But we just couldn’t enjoy it yet. Had to get to the hotel and get our car parked. When I finally did get out of the car I was back to feeling excited again. This city is happening! And our hotel was so frigging beautiful. I splurged and booked us at some hoity-toity joint, The Latham. I figured ten hours in the car merited a luxurious as hell hotel stay.

We had a big comfy baller bed!

big baller bed

Which I managed to get a few of my classic Smash pounces on.

jumpin on the bed in philly

Once I’d gotten that out of my system, we left the hotel in search of food. We were starving! Didn’t walk too far until we found something that looked promising, an Irish pub called The Black Sheep. And we had the best fucking meals ever. I don’t know if it’s because we were really legit starving or just because it actually was the best damn food ever, but holy shit dudes. I’m drooling right now as I relive it. D got himself a big juicy cheeseburger and I had the most incredible fish ‘n’ chips I’ve ever had in my life.

philly cheeseburger

philly fish n chips

Seriously. I’ve eaten a fuckload of fish ‘n’ chips in my time, and this was hands down the best of the best fish ‘n’ chips I’ve ever had. Skyrocketed to number 1 on my list. The piece of fish they served me was so thick and flaky, it just slipped right onto my fork and into my mouth. The batter had this incredible seasoning that I still dream about. It was just… so goddamn good.

We went for a walk after dinner, strolling through Market Square. It’s so gorgeous. I love Toronto with all my heart, believe me, it’s the love of my life as far as cities go. I’ll be forever smitten with its charms. So Toronto, love of my life, I don’t mean you any harm when I say this, but Philly… oh beautiful Philly, what a stunner you are! And we weren’t even in historic downtown yet either.

city hall

d in city hall

City Hall, it was quite remarkable. It’s how a city hall should be. Grand, impressive, awe-inspiring. What a perfect, sparkling gem. Philadelphia’s city hall demands absolute respect and admiration, it deserves no less than that.

We were tickled pink when we realized that the park preceding it is called Dilworth Park. That’s my BFF J-Dillah’s name. Joce-Force, you see this? They have a park in Philly that wears your name! And it’s so pretty, just like you.

Dilworth Park

An evening stroll through Market Square and City Hall, it was a wonderful introduction to the city of brotherly love. All the strain and exhaustion of the car ride just melted away.

LOVE

We made it. Philly wasn’t just some half-baked pipe dream anymore. It was real, we really did this. And we couldn’t wait to see what else this incredible city had in store.

But that’s another story, to be told in due time.

Hitting The Open Road

I’m very excited to announce this. I’ve been looking forward to announcing this to you guys all week long…

Hear ye, hear ye! This weekend I, Smash, of this odd little blog, am coming to a city near you! Well, it’s actually only to a city probably/sort of/maybe near some of you. The city of brotherly love itself, Philadelphia!

That’s right gang, you’ve got court-side seats to a Dballs and Smash Road Trip Spectacular! We’ve got a set of wheels and we’re hitting the open road first thing tomorrow morning. And I’ll be detailing every glorious second of it for your reading pleasure.

A couple of weeks ago I was jamming’ out to one of my favourite bands, They Might Be Giants. I started thinking how awesome it would be to see those guys in concert. I pulled up their website and starting poking around for any upcoming concerts in Toronto. But sadly, there were none. Only a bunch of dates listed for a tour through the states. Usually under circumstances such as these, I would’ve just signed up for an alert to let me know when the band will be coming to my neck of the woods in the future. But this time was different. This time around the little hamster in my head that serves as a brain kept cycling around on his squeaky little hamster exercise wheel. And once that wheel gets to turning, fixated on the possibility of an adventure, it’s next to impossible to make it stop.

What if we went to one of their shows in the states anyways? A lot of these places are within reasonable travel distance… Boston, Brooklyn, and Philly. We could probably make one of them work. If I wanted it bad enough and was able to plead my case convincingly, I might just get that husband of mine to go along. I had my birthday on my side, too. It’s harder to say no to a birthday wish than if it had been some conveniently trumped-up bucket list wish. I knew it was gunna be a long shot to convince D, but I really wanted to go. More than anything in the world, in that moment, all that mattered was getting to a TMBG show.

When I pitched the idea to D, I pulled out all the stops. Begging, pleading, whining, wailing, justifying, and arguing him to exhaustion. He resisted at first, but then came around eventually. My impassioned plea for adventure swayed him in the end. Actually, it wasn’t even all that dramatic. He agreed pretty early into my spiel. But he was gentlemanly enough to let me think I’d worn him down, because he knows it’s more fun for me that way.

I ran into my old boss on the subway the other day and gushed to him about our plans for this weekend. He chuckled and said, “eight hours straight in the car with your new husband, you sure are eager to stress test this marriage of yours, aren’t you?”

It might be a little crazy, sure. But everyone knows that crazy = fun. That’s just a basic maths right there. D and I are very travel compatible, so I’m not worried about it at all. We always have lots of laughs together and are both really jazzed up about this trip. We’re married, but we haven’t been totally domesticated yet. Why not grab life by the balls? We’re young and we’re full of dreams. We gotta make these bold moves now while we’re able to without any worry. We don’t have any annoying entanglements to hold us back. It’s a slam dunk already and we haven’t even left yet.

laughing with my hubby

Seriously, I am so fucking pumped! I’ve already made a fresh batch of mixed CD’s for the ride, I’ve got a supermassive 1000-page Archie comic packed, I’ve got oodles upon oodles of snacks stashed away, and I’ve got my doting husband in tow. It’s going to be so frigging rad.

We’re going to eat cheese steaks! We’re going to tour the city! Maybe we’ll even be so bold as to lick the Liberty Bell…

Whatever it is we decide to do on this journey of ours, I’ll keep you posted. So stick around chums, Smash is hitting the open road.