Philadelphia is widely known in the United States as The City of Brotherly Love, from the Greek translation, Philos Delphus and serviced by American Airlines with direct flights from Dublin.
Mention Philadelphia to most people and they may well burst into the theme tune from Sylvester Stallone’s iconic movie, Rocky. I took a direct flight with American Airlines from Dublin, as many will this summer on their way to Florida and other destinations. It doesn’t cost as much as you might think to travel business class with American Airlines, and with flat beds, silver service and incredible personal TVs it really is the best way to begin your holiday at the airport. Philadelphia is perfect for a mini break en-route if you fancy packing in two holidays for the price of one.
With an abundance of history, art and unique museums, I visit the Museum of Art at the top of the Rocky steps which boasts some of the finest European and American masters. Van Gogh, Dali and all the impressionist artists hang on these walls but on the parkway close by is The Barnes Collection which houses one of the largest and probably best collections of 19th and 20th century European masters in the world. Even the most reluctant art viewer will be blown away, with 180 Renoir’s hanging here alone and a huge collection of Cezanne’s, Matisse’s, Modiglian’s et al.
Philadelphia is decorated with spectacular murals on every street corner. Art comes in many guises and one of the city’s best kept secrets, especially appealing to the boys, is a short ten minute drive outside the city and only ten minutes from Philadelphia airport.
The Simeone Foundation houses over half-a-billion dollars worth of cars from the earliest days of car manufacture right through the peak of 20th century car racing. One off Ferrari’s and winners of the Mille Miglia rub fenders with Bugattis and with an entrance fee of only $12 it is no wonder that it has been voted best worldwide Vintage Car Museum.
Cuisine doesn’t begin and end with the famous Philly cheesesteak although I strongly recommend trying it, and the place to sample the city’s culinary delights is all together at Reading Terminal Food Market. If you’d rather savour some traditional American cuisine take a stroll to the old town and find City Tavern where Chef Staib proudly boasts a cabinet full of Emmy Awards for his TV show A Taste of History.
Here you can drink from hand crafted-pewter goblets and dine on dishes that have been around for over two-hundred years. The staff serve guests while dressed in traditional 18th century uniforms and with a little baroque music playing in the background I prepare to be transported back in time.
The passion and detail which Chef Staib serves up everyday makes it a favourite for tourists and locals. You can enjoy a taste of Parisien cafe-culture at Parc restaurant and Bistro on 18th street, close to the beautiful Rittenhouse Square. Perfectly coiffed madams and their poodles, sit at tables outside, overlooking a spacious green. Inside the atmosphere is electric and menu equally so. The proprietor, Stephen Starr, has seven restaurants in Philadelphia and each is uniquely different.
Philadelphia was once the capital of the United States and home to one of the city’s most famous sons, Benjamin Franklin. An all round over-achiever, Franklin was one of the signatories of The Declaration of Independence. But he was also a scientist, Diplomat, author, inventor, and the list goes on. His resting place is at Christ Church Burial Ground, close to the house where Betsy Ross lived, sometimes credited as the maker of the original stars and stripes flag. If it’s more history you’d enjoy then The Liberty Bell is on display in the city centre. Make time to visit the Museum of the American Revolution and home to the original tent, which was used by the countries first president George Washington, displayed in a surprise and spectacular fashion.
A great way to see the old town is with a tour-guide. You can pick one up at Philly Tour Hub on Arch Street or you can choose a Segway tour of the cities murals which are dotted on every street in the city. Boasting over 4,000 murals, the initiative was started to prevent graffiti and has turned the city into a living breathing art monument. For Irish visitors it is worth paying a visit to the The Irish Memorial, sculpted by Glenna Goodacre and lovingly cared for by the friends and patrons of the statue − it will touch the heart of anyone of Irish descent.
Great pubs abound in the Old City around the corner from my hotel at The Sheraton Society Hill, so I pop into The Plough and The Stars owned by an Irish Couple and situated in an old bank. It’s filled with Irish accents and great craic. Across the road I find cosy watering holes filled with atmosphere and an alluring mish mash of cultures from Brazilian to French.
Clothing and shoes are tax free making Philadelphia a great spot for shopping. Just 35 minutes north-west of the city is premium outlets which has every brand name you will desire form Michael Kors to my favourite bath and bodyworks. www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/Philadelphia
Philadelphia is easily reached by train from New York in 1 1/2 hours or 2 hours from Washington DC and with direct flights from Dublin there are plenty of reasons to get to know The City of Brotherly Love – I’m glad that I did!
For everything you need to know about Philadelphia see
www.aa.com American airlines
Check out this great package from Tour America
Philadelphia fr €729pp
Return flights, All taxes and charges
3 Nights accommodation Sheraton Society Hill
Based on 4 adults sharing
Date of departure: Feb 2018