Timeline: March 18-27
We took our time getting out the next day, performing personal errands and just generally being lazy. Around late morning we walked over to the Reading Terminal Market to get some lunch, knowing that we wouldn’t be eating dinner until close to 7pm that night. Being a Wednesday, it was much less crowded and frenetic than when Jim and I had visited on Sunday.
We walked around a bit, then I grabbed a seat at an open table in the dining court. Joanna went off in search of Beilers, an Amish bakery Shawn had told us about to get a maple bacon donut, which was indeed delightful to eat. Doughy as opposed to fluffy as you would expect from a yeast based product, it was solid enough to stand up to the icing and the bacon.
We knew though that we would need something else to tide us over and this seemed to be an appropriate time to sample that famous Philadelphia staple, the cheesesteak. Not having a good idea about which stand in the market would provide the best experience, we opted to just pick the closest one to us, Spataro’s. We ordered one with Provolone, peppers, onions and mushrooms and it came out quickly, warm to the touch through the paper as I set it down on the table.
One quick word about cheesesteaks. Growing up in West Los Angeles, our go to institution for this sandwich was and still is the Great Western Steak and Hoagie Company. I always order a pepper mushroom cheesesteak with onions and pizza sauce. My fondest memory is late night post Santa Monica Civic concert, sitting in the backseat of Steve’s Pinto, that hot Philly in my lap, the windows steaming up while you tried to hold back from just biting into it as you knew it would burn your mouth. Did you wait? Not likely.
None the less, the Spataro’s was very good with tender steak cooked just right, moist mushrooms and onions in a French roll that held up well to the contents. Far more satisfying than the Chicken Philly we’d experienced in Atlanta. Finished with lunch, we proceeded east along Arch to our destination, the National Constitution Center. The headwind was blowing fiercely, causing the cold to penetrate through layers of clothing, making walking difficult so we were glad to go inside this impressive edifice for an afternoon of delving into the makings of our government.
We’d visited Philadelphia with Jessica in 2010 spending time at the primary historical spots so the Constitution Center was a good fall back. Opened on July 4, 2003, this nonprofit, nonpartisan institution Center joined other iconic sites in what has been called “America’s most historic square mile” because of the proximity to historic landmarks such as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. The center is a virtual interactive museum that also serves as a national town hall for constitutional dialogue, regularly hosting government leaders, journalists, scholars, and celebrities for public discussions, including presidential debates.
It is an impressive facility and we spent the good part of four hours there, visiting each exhibit with one of our last stops in Signers’ Hall, a stylized recreation of the Assembly Room in the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall) where the signers of the Constitution met on September 17, 1787. The room houses life sized bronze statues of each of the signers of the Constitution.
Next door is a smaller room that features the exhibit, “Constituting Liberty: From the Declaration to the Bill of Rights” in which is displayed one of the 12 surviving copies of the Bill of Rights. It sits alongside a first-edition Stone engraving of the Declaration of Independence and a rare copy of the first public printing of the U.S. Constitution in the George H.W. Bush Gallery.
Full of history, we trekked back to the apartment and donning business attire, returned to the Marriott for one final bit of conference business, a reception known as “Wine, Wit and Wisdom” hosted by the folks from Freshens, Panda, and Einstein Brothers Bagels. This is an annual event generally held the night of the closing banquet and features four wines (beer is also available) that have been selected for their drinkability and affordability.
Gavin, one of the representatives and the wine guy will talk about each wine and provide insight into its characteristics and when best, besides now, to consume it. One of our favorites of the evening was 19 Crimes, a red blend out of Australia that celebrates its history through this fictionalized retelling:
Nineteen crimes turned criminals into colonists. Upon conviction, British rogues guilty of a least one of the 19 crimes were sentenced to live in Australia, rather than death. This punishment by “transportation” began in 1783 and many of the lawless died at sea. For the rough-hewn prisoners who made it to shore, a new world awaited.” It is a nicely balanced red blend, not tannic in the least and for affordability, we found it recently at both Costco and Trader Joes for a shade under $8 a bottle.
We left the reception for the banquet and not finding a table of folks we knew, sat with a group from Vermont, friendly people that engaged us as we ate. Tired from a long day, we finished eating and for the first time for me, left before the final speeches that would close out the banquet, buying us an hour or so of our lives back, but skipping a last opportunity to bid farewell to those we know at the conference.
A quick ride via Uber landed us safely back to the warmth of the apartment and we slept well anticipating another full day of sightseeing and some evening entertainment, all to be recounted in our next post.
Great Western Steak and Hoagie: http://www.greatwesternsteakandhoagiecompany.com/
National Constitution Center: https://constitutioncenter.org/
19 Crimes: http://19crimes.com/