Road Scholar Trip to Philadelphia

I enjoyed my February Road Scholar St. Augustine trip so much I couldn’t wait to take another. I got back two days ago and loved it like I did my first. I want to share a little bit about traveling solo with Road Scholar. I’ll focus on trip practicalities about how the program works.

But you’ll likely take a different Road Scholar trip than I did. So figure what will be relevant for you and the trip you choose.

This trip was a Signature City tour to Philadelphia, PA. A fantastic city with rich history, beautiful parks, and many of America’s great happenings. It is the birthplace of the United States, the “City of Brotherly Love, the Philly Cheesesteak, the Philadelphia Eagles football team and of course for Rocky.

Besides all those attractions I chose this tour because Omaha had a direct flight to this wonderful culture and history city. No layover or running to catch a connecting flight because my first one left late. Way easier than my trip before.

Solo Travelers

While some Road Scholar trips have a “solo supplement” price reduction most have you pay extra for a private room. I did that for my first trip. But there were women on that tour who did the roommate matching. They seemed very happy with the arrangement. That inspired me to give it a try.

Roommate matching turned out to be the best. Virginia was that long-time BFF I just met. We shared life stories, watched out for each other and laughed a lot. It was like a five-night sleepover. We even had to remind ourselves to stop talking at night or we’d be too tired to enjoy the next day’s tour activities.

Meals

Most meals are included on Road Scholar tours and are very nice or better. When alcoholic beverages are available you pay for them yourself.

There were special-needs eaters on the tour and they were always considered. When we had meals on our own during our “free time”, they were in locations where we had multiple food options. Some with way more choices than time available like at the Reading Terminal Market.

You also don’t tip. All tips – including for tour guides – are included in your Road Scholar fee unless you are on your own time.

Prologue

I had a few glitches getting this tour going. Way back in July I scheduled my trip for two weeks later than it happened. After scheduling it I saw the Barony had saved the date online for an event at the same time. I easily rescheduled my tour so I’d be available to help with our local event.

Unexpectedly my health became another consideration. I had a nasty vicious GI infection in August that sapped my energy and had me quarantined. For a time there was doubt I’d be able to go anywhere at all.

I’m grateful things healed. I was able to rebuild my strength and endurance to continuously walk two miles in the limited time I had. This was important because the specified activity level for this tour was more energetic than my St. Augustine trip. And as it turned out they weren’t joking.

With my unexpected health change I was glad I’d purchased the Road Scholar Trip Protection Plan and could cancel for any reason. It also covered my airfare if I needed to cancel. While I didn’t use it after all it was worth the $100 I paid for the insurance. It was practically a last minuet call that I would go.

But enough with my introduction. What I have for you now are multiple photo array posts that include tour specifics linking to related websites. It would be way too long if I described everything I saw, did and explored. So you can click on connecting links if you want more information.

Sunday, October 6th

This day was an endurance challenge. It began with an “o’dark 30” Uber trip to Omaha’s Eppley airport. Then at Philadelphia’s International Airport I found an Uber to the Double Tree Hilton Hotel-Philadelphia. This city is so huge the recommended shuttle service was full when I called to schedule it. Next time I will schedule airport transportation weeks before the trip as Uber now charges more for any heavy traffic times.

After checking in and getting my room I had some time to walk around the neighborhood. I used Google Map to find a place for lunch.

Along the way I passed this amazing mural just a block from the hotel. I later learned it’s called Philadelphia Muses by Meg Saligmana. It is a contemporary interpretation of the classical muses created in 1999. And it’s one of many murals in the Philadelphia Mural Arts project.

Philadelphia Muses mural
Sahara Grill

I continued walking and soon came upon a local family owned treat The Sahara Grill. It was an odd time for locals to dine Middle Eastern but they greeted me warmly and fed me profusely. I love their Lebanese Nights rosewater semolina pudding. Even went back for more on a later day.

Back at the hotel I put stuff away in the room and lazed about briefly. Then I met the tour group for orientation.

Our amazing group leader – Tish Byrne – gave us each a walkie-talkie device that connected us to her or any museum docent. We used these through out the trip.

Tish is more than an organizer and guide. She is our personal Philly font of knowledge. She is enthusiastic about its history, details, landmarks and current happenings.

After registration and a meet-and-greet orientation we all went to dinner at the hotel’s Standing O restaurant. A convenient place for us to chat and share our first meal together.

Next we had a short photo-lecture by architect William Warren about Philadelphia’s historic buildings. Six early buildings created the city and made some firsts in American history. It included the now closed Eastern State Penitentiary.

But it was late in this busy day when the lecture ended. I was delighted it wasn’t a snoozer as it ended well past my usual bed time. I was eager to get to my room and sleep. Tomorrow would be a full day of touring.

Check back Wednesday for more about my Philly Road Scholar tour.

Categories: Travel

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