A Great July 4th Weekend in Philadelphia

Reply

Jul 6th, 2009, 03:11 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 4,178
A Great July 4th Weekend in Philadelphia

I had planned an 'art' weekend for the end of August, but some other plans changed, and this fell into place instead -very last minute. I booked the Barnes Foundation a few days before and had no problem getting the time I wanted. Same for the Galileo exhibit at the Franklin. I used Starwood points for the Sheraton City Center two days before and Open Table for dinners.

Friday, July 3rd

Drove directly from NY to the Italian Market area on 9th Street and parked easily on the street. We walked the streets; most pushcarts were not 'Italian' and went into some of the old time markets - Di Bruno Bros, Fantes (housewares) and Claudio's. I purchased an unusual balsamic and some gorgeous, artisanal pastas from Naples in Claudio's. We passed Lorenzo's Pizza that had been recommended on another thread. The pizza that we could see displayed was very unappealing. We needed Plan B for lunch. Nearby there was a group waiting in the street. It was for Sabrina's Cafe which was on my breakfast list. We put our name on the list, looked at some more shops and 30 minutes later, we were seated. Dh and I had omelettes, but everything that came out of the kitchen looked wonderful. (910 Christian St. 215-574-1599)

We headed over to the Sheraton. After booking, I realized that the hotel was very close to where the fireworks would be the next evening. I was hoping that they would have a rooftop bar or lounge where we could view the celebration without the crowds. When I inquired at check in, I was told no lounge, but they would give us a room on the top floor (26) with a view of the fireworks. I was pleasantly surprised because when I booked online using points, it was for a standard room and no special requests would be honored. The room wouldn't be ready until 4, but we didn't care. We parked in their garage ($15 self park w/ in/out privileges) and headed off to the Rodin Museum. This was a fifteen minute walk past Logan Square, the Free Library and at the beginning of Fairmont Park. There were lots of workers setting up for the fireworks and the Sheryl Crow concert on Saturday. We went through the Rodin viewing many bronze sculptures of different sizes and some plaster molds. Most of the sculptures were cast after Rodin's death by permission of his estate.

We needed a snack and headed to Capogiro gelato artisans near Rittenhouse Square.
www.capogirogelato.com This was recommended by many fodorites and it did not disappoint. It does rival the best that Italy has to offer including Grom. They encourage you to sample before choosing. Even though I ordered a 'small,' I was glad we were walking a lot.

We headed back to the hotel to be told the room still wasn't ready. Dh was tired and in five minutes we were given another room on the top floor with full breakfast included for two days. The room was very nice and the view was excellent. It had three large windows overlooking the area where we just walked. It was an open, unobstructed view with lots of sky.

After a rest, we took a taxi to the restaurant Fork (thanks Thin). We were a bit early so we walked around the site where Ben Franklin's house originally stood and viewed some of the underground foundations. You could even see the original privy tunnel! Dinner at Fork was very good. The food was delicious. I had a roasted red and yellow beet salad and striped bass. Dh had a crispy soft shell crab followed by Dorade. All were excellent. Our only complaint was that it was served way too quickly despite being in the good hands of our otherwise competent Stanley Tucci look alike waiter. We decided to walk back to the hotel - it was a long walk - through Love Park - on a very beautiful night.

More later.
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2009, 03:47 PM
  #2
Amy
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,599
*sighs in rapture* Beautiful beginning! I'm always so happy when Philadelphia makes somebody else happy.
Amy is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2009, 03:48 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 2,336
Sounds like a nice start to your weekend, Centralparkgirl. I've really enjoyed walking around downtown (Center City) Philadelphia, but I'd say I like the Reading Terminal Market a little better than the Italian Market - different experience, of course.
smetz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2009, 04:51 PM
  #4
yk
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 23,971
Hi CPG, I'm so glad you had a great time! Love your first installment so far. Looking forward to the rest.
yk is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2009, 06:14 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,002
Glad you had a good time. Can't wait to hear the rest of your report.
schmerl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 6th, 2009, 07:10 PM
  #6
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 4,178
smetz - Because this was last minute and centered around the exhibits, I didn't research thoroughly. I would like to see the Reading Terminal Market - next time. The Italian Market reminds me of places in NY that 50 years ago were totally different experiences and are just fading away.

Saturday, July 4th

After a quick breakfast in the hotel, we walked over to the Franklin which I could see from our hotel window. We had some time before our timed entry to the Galileo exhibit so we went to the heart exhibit. Dh had never been through it and I first visited here on a 7th grade trip. The funny thing is that it was so big and scary then.

Galileo, the Medici and the Age of Astronomy was a wonderful exhibit. Most of the items on display - instruments, maps, etc. belonged to the Medici and come from a science museum in Florence. When in Italy, I have never visited this museum and have focused on art. I never realized how science was so supported by this dynasty. They had instruments that belonged to Michelangelo, journals of science theories, navigational maps of the world, etc. The detail on the instruments as well as on the maps (some 400 years old) was amazing. More amazing is Galileo, his ideas and theories and the courage and conviction to present them. I left wanting to find a good biography to learn more about this amazing man.

After a quick, mediocre lunch, we headed to see an Imax film, 'Under the Sea.' It was beautiful photography of coral reefs in Asia and Australia. Since dh nodded through a lot of it, I thought it would be a great idea to hit the planetarium next so he could continue his nap - lol.

The planetarium has different shows. The one we caught was called 'Two Pieces of Glass' which was about telescopes. I suggest seeing this before the Galileo exhibit. It was a good show because it was a bit more cerebral and informative than the usual planetarium star war themes. dh stayed awake!

The rest of our visit at the Franklin covered the giant steam engine train downstairs and a new exhibit called 'Race.' It was a great visit to such a wonderful institution.

We then went for a walk, heading to Rittenhouse Square and walking along Walnut Street in search of the Naked Chocolate Cafe. We shared a hot chocolate, european style (thick with less milk), of very dark, wonderful chocolate. We bought a few dark chocolate grahams to bring home and happily walked back to the hotel.

For dinner, we walked back to where we were the day before at Capogiro to a restaurant called Tinto (another Thin rec). This is a tapas style restaurant specializing in Basque cuisine.
www.tintorestaurant.com It is owned by the same chef, Jose Garces, who owns Amada and Destito. The meal was special. Our waitress guided us with the wines and the small plates to be shared. We started with verdial olives that were delicious; an arugula salad with mission figs; haricot vert with almonds, dates and orange; black cod with an olive escabeche; prawns on a skewer; wild mushrooms (sensational); and a special of grilled bison. The grilled bison was the only disappointment - it was quite chewy and when mentioned to the waitress, she removed it from the bill. The whole experience was excellent.

We walked back to the hotel and picked up some drinks to take to our room. We watched Sheryl Crow's concert on TV even though she was minutes away. At about 10:30, the fireworks started. As expected, they were quite beautiful and the view was too; we were very lucky to experience July 4th in this way.

End of a great 4th. More to come.
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2009, 12:33 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,435
Thanks for the tip on getting advanced tix for Galileo. We're going this weekend (11th) and I was able to get tix for Sunday at 5:00. Wouldn't have thought to do that without seeing your post.

Also want to see the Reading Market.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2009, 01:30 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 10,939
I'm glad you saw the Italian Market, cpg. It is a very different experience than Reading Terminal. Did anyone yell at you if you tried to touch the fruit? I can't wait to hear your description of your visit to the Barnes.
Birdie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2009, 01:35 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 2,336
The Franklin Museum sounds very interesting. The only time I've been there is for the Body Worlds exhibit, so my impression is a little tinged. But the exhibits you mentioned sound interesting - I'll have to go back again soon.
smetz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2009, 03:05 PM
  #10
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 4,178
Birdie - I didn't come close to touching the fruit. Actually, the produce didn't look great and the vendors didn't seem to be Italian. It looked like a remnant of what once was.

Sunday, July 5th

After an early breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and headed north to the Barnes Foundation. Conveniently, the highway entrance was a few blocks from the hotel and we were there in 15 minutes. I had reserved parking over the phone when I reserved the tickets. We entered at 9:30 and got the ID passes for the first docent led tour of the day at 10 am. The Barnes has lots of rules - stand behind the black line in front of the paintings, place all possessions in lockers when visiting, no art is allowed to go out on loan, etc. Our docent was wonderful (all docents are not created equal!) and explained a lot about Dr. Barnes and his feelings on how he wanted his art displayed. Talk about eye candy! 181 Renoirs, oh my! She took us through half the galleries and discussed only a few of the paintings per gallery. She was very knowledgeable about the art and Dr. Barnes. After the tour, which lasted an hour, we decided to forgo the garden tour and concentrate on the art with the time we had left. We went through every gallery (on two floors). Other than a small nameplate on each painting, there is no info posted next to the art. Instead each gallery has a template of each wall with info about each painting. I found that very cumbersome to keep looking at the walls, the 'map' and back to the walls - especially since some art is way up near the ceiling. So instead we looked at the paintings that really interested us. And we discovered three new (to us) artists who we really liked. Trying to remember their names, I thought they would make a great CPA firm: Glackens, Pascin and Demuth! There were many of their illustrations and water colors that we loved - more so than the larger oil paintings. Interestingly, they all lived and died around the same time - two in Pa and the third in Paris. In fact, I've just learned that Demuth has a museum in Lancaster, Pa. The experience at the Barnes was great and I am so glad that we went.

It is definite that the Barnes is moving to Philadelphia. When we walked to the Rodin, we passed the new site under construction. So it will be between the Franklin and the Rodin. And.... the art will be displayed exactly the same way Dr. Barnes has designated.

After leaving, we decide to drive to Manayunk for lunch (thanks again Thin). It is very close, but somehow we managed to miss Main St and ended up in a very newish residential area. A local gave us very precise, accurate directions and we were soon there. It's a cute little town with lots of shops and restaurants, but with a small town feel. We had lunch at Le Bus which was very good and we sat outdoors. When we arrived, the end of the Federer/Roddick match was on at the bar, so we watched that first.

Philadelphia is an extremely navigable city - especially on foot - and the opportunities to view art and history are unlimited. We will be back soon!

Our trip home on the endlessly boring NJ Turnpike was mostly without traffic and we were back home soon to our neighborhood in Manhattan that looked like a ghost town.

Thanks again to those of you for posting your suggestions. Since finding Fodors, our trips are definitely richer!
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2009, 03:08 PM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 4,178
Oh, one last comment about the Barnes. The art is arranged not by artist, genre or era. So a Renoir may be next to a Goya next to a Picasso next to a Matisse, etc.
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2009, 03:13 PM
  #12
yk
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 23,971
I so enjoyed your report, CPG! And Le Bus! Oh my, I had forgotten all about that place (I moved away from Philadelphia 5 years ago) - it's fantastic, isn't it.

Since finding Fodors, our trips are definitely richer!

I'll second that! I have gotten so many great tips and ideas from here that I shudder when I think of the trips I took before I found Fodors.
yk is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2009, 03:25 PM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 4,178
yk - I so enjoy yours as well. I still haven't finished your Hartford report, but I want to ask, do you enjoy/attend the ballet?
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2009, 03:50 PM
  #14
yk
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 23,971
Hi CPG, I'm not a ballet fan. In fact, I haven't attended a ballet for over a decade, until a few months ago when I was in Vienna and we went to see Romeo & Juliet (Cranko choreography) with Polina Semionova as the principal ballerina. That was spectacular and I so loved it. A month later, I went to see a Ballets Russes program by the Boston Ballet. I must admit I was rather disappointed by it. I haven't decided if I'll go attend the Boston Ballet performances this coming season. How about you? Do you attend the ABT performances at the Met?

I prefer operas and symphony concerts.
yk is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2009, 04:12 PM
  #15
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 4,178
Hi yk - I'm a long time subscriber to the NYCBallet. I haven't been to the ABT in years. I saw the Cranko production years ago with Nureyev! He was at the end of his career then. I go to a lot of theater - so between theater and NYCB, there's not a lot of time and money to see many of the other companies. I was curious about you because of your interest in the Ballet Russes exhibits in Hartford.
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2009, 06:11 PM
  #16
yk
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 23,971
CPG, all I can say is I'm enjoy a lot of (random) art-related things. But here's my confession: I've never heard of Ballets Russes or Diaghilev until a few months ago when I came across some exhibition announcement on the centennial of Ballets Russes. But I'm always interested in learning new (to me) things.

Have you been to Pittsburgh? I went there with my parents a few years ago for July 4th. Now, that's an under-rated American city.
yk is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2009, 06:20 PM
  #17
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 4,178
yk - I was in Pittsburgh once as a young child. The problem with Pittsburgh is that it's sooooooo far. I know some kids who went to Carnegie Mellon and enjoyed being there.

You are so right about learning new things. That's how I felt about the three artists at the Barnes.
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 8th, 2009, 05:28 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 2,336
I'm so glad I read this, Centralparkgirl, because I have not heard of the Barnes Foundation. Their collection sounds excellent, and I'm looking forward to seeing it some day soon. Last time dw and I were up there we went to a play at Walnut Street Theater. Saw "Lost in Yonkers", and it was really good. Thanks for the good suggestions, Philly is always a nice place for a weekend away.
smetz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 8th, 2009, 09:12 AM
  #19
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 4,178
smetz - I hadn't heard of it until quite recently. Someone I know mentioned it and then it was also mentioned somewhere here on Fodor's. Read and learn.....it's a good thing!
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 8th, 2009, 12:57 PM
  #20
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 10,939
Oh smetz, I feel badly that we haven't told you about the Barnes!! It is fabulous. It would be worth trying to see before it moves over to the parkway. I know they are going to hang the art the same way it is hung now but I think the experience will be different than it is in the old mansion.

My first and only visit to the Barnes was years ago before some of the artwork went on tour and the touring pieces were published. None of the artwork had been published when I saw it. I was awed by the amount of gorgeous impressionist art that was just as amazing as any of the more well known pieces yet I had seen none of it before because it couldn't be published.
Birdie is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:23 AM.