David and I have only to ride the elevator up to the next floor to meet zabelle
and Al. When the door opens, we are glad to see each other! Even Al and David seem
like old friends. Their room is a suite, so we get comfortable in the seating area while
two of zabelle’s famous "hooligans" in the bedroom act like normal, but good kids,
proving that their grandmother’s epithet is absolutely the only label she has ever
used that might be a tad misleading!
With everything else she says, I have to agree. We talk about our different itineraries for
the weekend, other travel, family backgrounds, work experiences, and friends--and talk
for ninety minutes until we must leave for the Lights of Liberty show.
I lived and worked in Philadelphia one summer in the late 1970s, and I didn’t like the
city then. Most of the historic sites visited today weren’t spruced up, as they are now,
and many attractions, such as the National Constitution Center (since 2004), didn’t even
exist then. I didn’t know there were so many attractions I wanted to see until I
read zabelle’s journal Phlashing in Philly. I know I can always count on her to
ferret out the best tours and museums, and I consider all her suggestions "must sees." I
just had to visit Independence Park, Atwater-Kent Museum, City Hall, and the National
Constitution Center because of her coverage of them. Who wouldn’t want to dine at City
Tavern, knowing how much our star food connoisseur relishes it?
Then Owen Lipsett’s account of "Essential Museums" and fast food makes Philly this
year even more essential. We almost get Owen to join us, but we have picked a bad
weekend for him. (By the way, Owen, we wish you were here! We all take your advice
and shop at Reading Market. As a matter of fact, we even stay next door and visit
the market several times. And, I find National Constitution Center to be exactly as
you’ve described it.)
Isabelle and I have been trying for a year to find a common ground where we can meet,
and we focus on somewhere in Pennsylvania, halfway for both of us. When I decide I
must see Philly this summer and discover that she has booked the city for August 12-15,
that is sure to work out. In my excitement, I forget that I don’t usually travel in August
because I can’t stand the heat! But this caution gets pushed aside.
There is little chance that our itineraries will overlap, since we are going to see
the same attractions that she has already described. Also, she and Al are travelling with
12-year-olds, and we don’t want to "horn in" on their family weekend. We both agree to
play it by ear and get together at whatever times present themselves. David insists that he
and I book Lights of Liberty show, and zabelle and Al think it sounds good, too.
(Plus, there is a half price coupon for it in the Philadelphia Entertainment Book,
and we both have one.) We all have reservations for 8:20, we discover, and so we walk
together to the PECO Energy Liberty Center at the corner of 6th and Chestnut. This
distance gives us more time to chat.
The big padded headphones we have to put on finally shut us up--well, most of the time,
We do figure out pretty fast that the headphones can be raised to make a comment, and
we all have a few. We lose track of one another from time to time during the
light-and-sound extravaganza and then get together again for our walk back to the
David and I are meeting a high school friend from our hometown Saturday morning.
This fits perfectly. Donna can visit with us the sites that Iz and Al have already scouted
out. We with our company and our Igo friends with their family part ways until Sunday
night, when we meet at Hilton’s 10th floor grill and bar.
To make a long story short, we close the place and move our chatter to the lobby. This is
where the debate about auto-versus-train travel in Europe continues. (The train does, too,
go to Vezelay, Isabelle. I checked at www.diebahn.de.) You can probably guess where
we girls end up. Of course, we must check out the business center, specifically our Igo
accounts to see if we are getting any mail. This is when the guys have had enough, and
they desert us. We aren’t far behind. We’re too tired to answer any mail at this point,
Monday is another day, and I still have so very much to see in Philly. I don’t think I’ll
finish with this city until I’ve visited all the attractions IgoUgo has covered, so I’m
already planning my next trip. Plus, I have to discover something new, so that I
can return the favor and offer a suggestion or two. Gee, I wonder if zabelle’s been to
Betsy Ross House! Yep! She's been there, too. I'm still looking for a place she hasn't been in Philly.