There was a part of me that assumed I couldn’t travel on my own, and it was that part of me that I wanted to challenge. Travelling with friends is fun – as long as you and the friends are compatible travelling companions, and I’m lucky to have some good friends that are great travel buddies. Still, I wondered what it would be like to set my own pace, to wake up at 11 am and spend three hours wandering a museum or sitting in a park reading a newly purchased book from the local bookstore, simply because I fancied doing so at the time. So, when I was started feeling a deep desire to spend time alone, I took a random weekend trip to Philadelphia.
I had to set goals, I wanted to see two places of interest, the Liberty Bell and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and I wanted to visit at least one local bookstore – if I purchase something, that would be a plus!
After arriving by Amtrak on Friday afternoon, making my way to my Airbnb for the weekend (in the heart of the city!) and finding some cheesesteak at Reading Terminal Market, I decided to map out my weekend. The next day I’d try to visit the Liberty Bell and take a walk across town to the museum, then the following day it would be bookstores and shops.
After waking up on my own time, I took a stroll towards Liberty Bell Center where the Liberty Bell is housed.
The story of the bell is an interesting one, it’s beginnings more humble than the icon it became today. While it’s become a symbol of independence (and freedom), I thought it was interesting that it influenced another bell. A replica of the bell was also used in the Women’s Suffrage movement the early 1900s – the clapper was chained to the side of the bell, rendering it mute, until women were allowed to vote. This replica is called the Justice Bell, also in Pennsylvania, though outside of Philidelphia.
It took about 20 minutes to make it inside the Centre to see the bell. Once inside, I took my time reading and walking around, paying close attention to the history of the bell, before finally going to view the bell and its famous crack. Isn’t it a curious thing, that a broken bell can be an icon for freedom? And in a way, isn’t it quite fitting?
The next place I wanted to go – after the bell – was the art museum, but since I had a late start and it was across town, I decided to visit a few bookstores instead. The first one I visited was Head House Books, which was in the area of the bell. It’s very tiny but stocked to overflowing with books. There are some bookstores that I walk into and feel overwhelming because it’s big, or there’s too much going on, and there are some that feel like home. Head House Books definitely felt like home.
Next, I visited Joseph Fox Bookshop, which I probably would have missed because it was located on a block that looked somewhat residential (it wasn’t). It was another tiny shop, but such character. I found a series there that I had to get – unfortunately they didn’t have the first book in stock.
Art and Rain
The next day, I spent the afternoon at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I wandered the halls, looking at art, reading up on some pieces, imagining, being amused and sometimes, just staring, caught up in the beauty of a piece. I loved it!
One of my favourite pieces was The Four Seasons by Léon Frédéric. I loved the way they were painted, the seasons personified, the colours. There was something striking about it.
Later, when I was ready to leave, I was greeted by a downpour! So, I did the only thing one does at that time, I bought an umbrella from the museum store. By the time I got back to my rooms, I was soaked! But, I did manage to catch a picture of the LOVE sculpture without having to wait for folks to stop posing.
On the whole, I thought the trip was a success! I could have spent a few more days there but I decided to save that for another time. I’m glad I did it, I can’t wait to go on more adventures.