Philly Tour – Old City

Yesterday was a walking, viewing busy day. My step tracker showed I took 12,000+ steps. This day turned out much easier. And more at the pace we each chose.

My roommate Virginia and I discovered separately we were in information overload. We were enthralled with all we’d done and learned but we so wanted the afternoon’s expected free time.

But first – as usual – our buffet breakfast. We boarded another Global bus for the Old City. Glad we had it because it was a bit rainy. We were headed to see another niche of history and walk its oldest residential streets. Elfreth’s Alley.

This tiny homes’ alcove is named after Jeremiah Elfreth, an 18th-century blacksmith and property owner. Its 32 narrow, quaint Federal and Georgian style houses historically belonged to tradesmen and their families.

In the mid-18th century Philadelphia’s economic boom needed artisans and small manufacturers to supply goods and services to its growing population. Those workers lived along today’s Elfreth’s Alley. The city’s shipwrights, metal smiths, glassblowers, and furniture builders.

Elfreth’s Alley

We walked the short lane ending at Bladen’s Court. Hidden midway down the street. An alley within an alley leading to a charming circular courtyard.

The appealing thing about this walk is the stories Tish told about the people who lived and live here. She knows so much about each house. From the effort the owners take to keep the outside trim painted to the joy they take in Halloween. Each tiny house had a story to tell us.

Virginia and others on the tour listening to Tish talk about Elfreth’s Alley’s residents.

Stories about the three homes facing the hidden passage. Their inside stairs so narrow guard-rails must be removed to hoist any furniture to an upper floor.

An how the odd looking red post-type thing you see here was a community well pump. A

And the best place for women to gather and gossip about what’s happening.

Tish brought it all to life.

After the morning’s excursion we returned to the hotel, thankful to do our own thing. Virginia took a nap. Kind of the opposite of bringing things to life.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. So I set off to wander on my own. As I am a museum nerd, my vague plan was to let Google Map guide me to the Franklin Institute science museum. I knew it was a long walk. But I had all afternoon to make it happen.

Well, I got turned around. I didn’t get there. In fact I think I ended up going in the exact opposite direction. But I didn’t care. It was all about discovery for me. More narrow interesting homes and the old Mikvah Cemetary.

But the weather changed from cloudy, misty to sprinkling rain. So I rerouted myself to closer to the hotel before the few sprinkles became a downpour.

Greenstreet Coffee Company

That’s how I discovered this cozy coffee shop. Greenstreet Coffee Company. It’s the tiniest dine-in coffee shop I’ve seen offering gourmet coffee. It’s no bigger than a drive-through kiosk. I stopped awhile to people watch and drank the best Americano decaf I’ve ever tasted. Rich, mellow. No acid taste. Perfection. I wish I could bring that taste home with me. But it wouldn’t be the same. The experience was part of the joy.

After my interlude I felt peckish. The coffee was just the appetizer. Where else should I go for dinner? Of course, back to my fave, the Sahara Grill. I already had my taste buds set for an eggplant dinner. But more I wanted their Lebanese Nights rosewater semolina desert. Heavenly.

After dinner it was back to the hotel room. Virginia was just leaving. She scored tickets to see the award winning musical Hamilton. She and seven others on the tour were the lucky ones. I was the lazy one.

Virginia returned after the musical overjoyed by the performance. She told me in choreographic detail about the graceful dances and hip-hop music she loved. Made me wish I had seen it too.

This was a peaceful adventurous day. Tomorrow we would share a Founding Father‘s tour day and learn how the musical synced with history.

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