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    by ibobi Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 20, 17 at 01:24 PM
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Trip Report Philly, Pfriends, Pfood: An Overly Verbose Trip Report

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I love boys, don't get me wrong. I even love men. But I live with 3 of the creatures now, and after the 6th conversation in 10 minutes of Why Mommy Doesn't Have a Penis and three straight diapers that would give a linebacker PTSD, how glorious to find myself minus penis(es) at a train station at 7:30 in the morning, being handed a coffee by a radiant Pam Pecan. Yes, yes, ya'll – this girl is in need of a girls' weekend.

7:31:00 – I discover there is Bailey's in my coffee. I love Pam. (you remember: http://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/baltimore-bacchanal-an-overly-verbose-trip-report.cfm )

7:31:10 – I discover there is in fact a butt-ton* of Bailey's in my coffee. I am in trouble.

Pam and I catch up, sensei and grasshoppah, as we head towards PA, and my bastardized beverage goes down like buttah. But one older gentleman leaves the café car with a cold Yuengling. At least I'm not THAT dude.

9:00:00 – Pam and I both call into teleconferences for work. My liver cocks an eyebrow, but things are cool. My conscience (wretched thing) is relieved. Yuengling dude goes back for another one.

10:30ish – Rockstar Pam hangs up, gets a chardonnay from the café car, barely beating Yuengling dude with his 3rd. I wave off the pace car; at that rate I will be asleep by noon. We pass the time chatting and reading, and I quickly discover that Pam gets more texts than an alpha teen during study hall. After a sleepy lull we ditch Jersey, wander out into the vaulted echo chamber of 30th Street Station, and catch a cab to the Loews (1200 Market Street, right near the convention center, http://www.loewshotels.com/en/Hotels/Philadelphia-Hotel/Overview.aspx ) The lobby has that tall, cool, dimly-lit semi-contemporary décor that can be a bit chilly, but we are greeted warmly by reception and score a $100 food and beverage credit through a Winter promotion (ten bucks sez this is blown by snacktime). We make our way to the room and a waiting Piper (up from Carolina), who opens the door for me and exclaims "OhMyGod you're GIGANTIC!!"

Ah, my friends.

The room is lovely, two queens with plenty of room, a nice view of the city and the river beyond, and a decent, updated granite and tile bath. After Piper finishes backpedaling furiously (she had apparently forgotten I had a few inches on her. Uh-huh.) we hit the road and head towards the Reading Terminal Market for lunch (read: soakage).

Less than 2 blocks away, the market is clean, fun, and one of those places I wish to God was near me but am also kinda thankful is not. Amongst the bustle you can find anything from French crepes to a beer garden to soul food to halibut to cheesesteaks to whoopee pies (which apparently are the new cupcake), and we wander for a bit before I decide on a tasty DeNic's pork sandwich ($7), which I will remember to get some cheese and veg on next time (kinda needed a little extra somethin'). The building is busy but not quite claustrophobic, and surprisingly free from nose-singeing reekage that can often accompany enclosed markets. Pam finds falafel, Piper tags some turkey, and we continue catching up before backtracking on Market to the beautiful Macy's, in the National Historic Landmark John Wanamaker Building, its three-story Italian marble grand court making it IMHO much nicer than the flagship in NYC. Pam throws the good folks at MAC a stimulus, and then it's back to the hotel to gear up (and lighten up as, in an entertaining sociological bit of self-selection, none of my good friends ever, EVER happen to have any poop shame. None. There may, in fact, be Poop Pride.)

We head East down Market towards the Independence National Historical Park, surprised to pass a Burlington Coat Factory, Old Navy, Kmart, and a Dress Barn (does a less attractive name for a woman's clothing store exist??). This struck us as a bit odd. We are, however, entertained by the bling bodegas next to the dollar stores; amongst the bejeweled crowns, fists, and signs I quickly make out an 8-inch "Bitch" done up in CZ's on a 14 kt dog chain. Mother's Day!

Rolling into Independence Visitor's center to try our luck, we learn that tickets for the Independence Hall tour were long gone, and our best bet is to return tomorrow as close to 8:30 as we can. Piper and I befriend the standard costumed-gentlemen-in-tricornered-hats, there to answer questions and get their pix taken with tourists . After about 10 seconds with us they drop the colonial act and start telling us where the best bars are, which was nice. We head across the street to the Liberty Bell center, a newish, long building with several exhibits on the causes the Bell came to represent, a good reminder of how young our country is, how tumultuous our short history has been, and how idiotic we can be because seriously, only a man would try to repair a crack by MAKING IT BIGGER.

We wander aimlessly amongst the brick buildings and squares, and decide to duck into the Curtis Center, a handsome white marble building (just across from the Independence square park on Walnut Street) to see the lobby's 49-foot-long Maxfield Parrish mosaic "Dream Garden". Back in the late 90's Steve Wynn bought the Tiffany-made mosaic, planning to haul it to Vegas, but the good (and rightfully pissed) people of Philly bought it back with the help of the Pew Charitable Trusts. It's quite lovely, with such beautiful gradation of color you have to get close to see how it all fits together, but we were puzzled by the lack of any marker or information – in fact, the approach was almost obscured by some cheap formica counters we'd assumed were left over from a reception. Odd.

Heading back West and ditching hundreds of years of nascent US history, we wander through a rather dreary Jeweler's row and loll down Walnut, fortuitously approaching the Naked Chocolate Café (1317 Walnut Street, www.nakedchocolatecafe.com) where we belly up to the counter to take in all the handmade chocolate goodies. Mad props to fodorite Amy, their Spicy hot chocolate was The Stuff – good God. Rich, luscious, intriguingly complicated, indulgently naughty – just the way I like my…chocolate. Pam and Piper snag chocolate-coated wads of caramel-stuffed Belgian waffle, and after hanging for a bit we head towards the 13th and Sansom area, poking into some fun clothing and home goods boutiques and meeting Steve Duross at Duross & Langel (www.durossandlangel.com), purveyors of handmade soaps, balms, and everything that Smells Yum. Anybody who sells bacon-flavored dental floss AND has the brains to state "Not everything synthesized is bad" deserves to be heeded, and after our browsing and buying he steers us across the street to El Vez (www.elvezrestaurant.com, 121 S 13th St), recommending their margaritas. He's right, they're quite good (try the Blood Orange), but we're almost too mesmerized by the rotating pink-and-gold tricked-out Schwinn fit for a Queen above the circular bar to notice. Passing apps looked promising, and the gold-and red-velvet booths, funktastic wall art, and yes, B&W photo booth looked like it would make for a way fun night out.

But we have some bar money to work on, so it's back to the hotel to work on the credit, work up some gossip, and work out what we'll do about dinner. After another hour plus of chatting and relaxing, it's back up to the room to do the ritual ablutions, and soon we're back down the Mach 3 elevator jumping in a cab headed East towards Amada (www.amadarestaurant.com, 217 Chestnut Street).

Amada is currently one of the hottest places in Philly, a darkish, buzzing, ever-so-vaguely-pottery-barn place (all that dark accent wood) minus the pretension and plus umpteen kinds of fabulous tapas. As we're taking our chances without reservations (and there's an hour wait just for bar tables) we hang out by the bar and within 15 minutes or so three seats open up. And then we make our first and only mistake by ordering a pitcher of the sangria Blanco, which, although it comes in a cool old-school sangria pitcher, is way too sweet for all of us. Ah, but soon we're cool with the bartender, and he steers us to the fabulous Meat Mixto with some beautiful charcuterie (including lovely Serrano ham) and then totally earns his keep with the Cheese Mixto platter, where he picks the three cheeses for us. Oh, Lord, out comes some aged Manchego with truffled lavender honey, Cana de Cabra with fig & cherry marmalade, and Peral with currant-pistachio remoulade, and we are floored, staring at each other as we've lost the English language and can only mutter obscenities. It was the best cheese course any of us had ever eaten, and we were sorely tempted to order another round, but the rest of the menu beckoned. Out came some lovely spicy sizzling garlic shrimp, a plate of baked goat cheese with tomato, basil, and almond puree, and a shrimp, chorizo, and garbanzo bean flatbread. As some of our plates were a bit delayed (like we cared…) out came a plate of fried green Spanish pimiento peppers. It was a fabulous meal, I highly recommend a try, and get that orgasmic cheese course or I'm never speaking to you again.

Happy and buzzed (%^&k that cheese rocked!) we head out to the bars of Old City, our first stop further down Walnut where we instantly meet up with the Biatch School of Bartending. Sticking it out we order a round and are seized upon by a few Boston boys, who chat for a while and maintain something resembling normal drunken pleasantries. That is, until a guy with a Yankees hat settles in like chum in the south Atlantic. In 0.8 seconds the men are literally climbing up on stools and BRAYING AT EACH OTHER with MY eardrums in the line of fire. Honestly. I will never understand this rudeness, this fanaticism, this slavering, frothing zealotry, a turnoff triple-play…but let's not get started. Suffice to say the only way these dorks will EVER talk to a woman in a bar is if their mommies call them.

So. Drinks quickly pounded we move on to the 2-story The Ploughman and Stars, so not an Irish pub but nonetheless a much more promising crowd with OK music. We settle in against a railing with some drinks and things look intriguing – there's a large crowd of fairly clean-cut guys looking like they all know each other from work, but only a handful are in office attire. I'm puzzled – they're not military, and there's not enough facial hair for cops or firefighters, but they have That Vibe. Eventually one peels off and says his friends want to chat; we oblige and initially talk to a handsome, nattily dressed gentleman in trendy specs, suit, and trench (lawyer, definitely), and when I ask what's up with the big law-looking group things make a lot more sense.

We're surrounded by FBI agents.

Okay, then. We settle in and soon it becomes clear that I have A Friend, but I'm pleased, buzzed, and enjoying myself and besides, they've got some smartass going on, not to mention the Gofer was cute and had an arse that could break your hand. They were all out celebrating catching a Very Bad Man and buy us a few rounds, too, and at one point my Friend finally notices my wedding band and asks, "What's that? A friendship ring?" (DH, upon hearing this, asks if my Friend's name was Thomas. Apparently my 3-year-old heard I took the train down and asked if I was riding Thomas this weekend). Piper and Pam eventually retreat (after some sotto voce teasing along the lines of "Me love you long time Mistah EFF-BEE-AYYYEEEE") and after another half hour or so I look over and begin to think I've fallen down the rabbit hole. Piper is sanguine, content to hang, and normally Pam would be toying with a Navy boy, batting around an accountant, or lip locking a personal trainer, but she is simply Hanging Out and, horrors, singing and dancing to "Take Me Home Country Roads." Huh. After a quiet investigation, I learn Pam needs a burger - evidently she's gone past shiitake'd to grease-craving (we DID start at 8 AM…) so we all decide to ripcord before "The Pina Colada Song" comes on (and before my prints are taken off my Amstel bottle). In the cab, the last thing our driver hears is Pam's stunned cry to the Heavens: "I have no Mojo in Philly!!!!!"

It is an odd town.

* - Somewhere between a sh!t-load and Avogadro's number

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