Philadelphia Road Scholar Tour – Wrap-Up

Franklin’s Farewell

The Philadelphia Road Scholar tour ended before lunch with Ben Franklin speaking with us about his life, times, printing business, scientific experiments, and Philadelphia. A spoken memoir by a wise and strong friend bringing to life his extraordinary mind, abilities and humor. Franklin ended this Road Scholar tour totally in character, bidding us farewell for his city and culture.

Wanamaker’s Grand Court Organ

Macy’s Grand Court with its pipe-organ

After Franklin’s farewell I had a few hours free before leaving for the airport. Virginia and I decided there was just enough time to get to Macy’s for its noon organ concert. We had to see it. Couldn’t wait to hear it. So we hustled up the four blocks of S. Broad Street and got there just in time.

This amazing pipe-organ is renowned for being the world’s largest fully functioning pipe organ. And it’s in what was Wanamaker’s Department Store.

Wanamaker’s was one of the first department stores and the first one to put price tags on its merchandise. (Yes another Philly first.)

You can listen to the 28,750 pipes of the huge Wanamaker’s Grand Court Organ in its spacious seven-story hall. Hear its booming and lilting wind-breathing orchestral tones. Drift back to the 1904 gilded culture that created this wondrous grand musical instrument.

After the concert Virginia and I walked around the store’s many shopping floors. And of course we had to do a little clearance shoe shopping because – well – they were there.

Reading Terminal Market

Our next stop was the urban farmer’s market of Reading Terminal. We were there just three days ago. On a lark then I’d bought some pistachio cookies. They were so good Virginia and I both wanted more. We were on a cookie quest, hunting all over it 78,000 sq. ft. But sadly we couldn’t find that seller.

Eventually Virginia’d had enough and headed back to her room. I was still determined and got in a ton more steps searching for the illusive pistachio cookies. I too didn’t find them. But that didn’t stop me from finding something to eat. I called it “lunch”.

Eventually I wandered back to the hotel. I did have a plane to catch after all. I wanted to leave with plenty of time because my cheap airline ticket didn’t show my departing terminal. Another mystery to solve along with using Uber to get there.

I gathered my stuff together from what was technically now Virginia’s room. My check out time had passed. Now best friends we said goodbyes at the curb and hugged. Then Virginia helped me catch my ride watching the cross street as I searched for Uber on S. Broad Street.

Uber was helpful and necessary but came with a high price in this populace city. Leaving when I did and without prescheduling my ride meant higher rates and higher tip charges. Something I hadn’t expected.

I was off to the airport but that didn’t end my adventure. I checked in at the terminal finding out my plane left from the farthest gate possible. Thankfully I could catch an employee shuttle to take me where I needed to go. Its pickup spot was outside, around a barrier and down the drive many steps away.

I got the proper terminal with much time to spare. I could relax, unwind. The end of my Road Scholar Philadelphia adventure.


You can tell I love these tours and hope to take many more. They are wonderful for solo travelers. Well organized, efficient and worth the money.

The tour participants were an interesting, congenial group distinguished by their curiosity and life-long learning love. That seemed the case on my St. Augustine trip too. They were great company, as was our knowledgeable extrovert group leader Tish Byrne. And I was impressed with the Philly tour’s planning and amenities.

I’ll take another Road Scholar tour for sure and hope you do sometime too. But next time I won’t schedule so far in advance to reduce any possible daily-life conflicts and local calendar changes. That would also help my financial planning even though the trip itself would cost the same. Sure some tours might be filled but others would be available for the same dates. So many options from which you can choose.

With this trip I learned the importance of scheduling transportation to and from the hotel well in advance. Doing that would have saved me $100 by avoiding higher Uber charges and tips.

I learned also I may prefer a different type tour or one a little slower paced. While I love sightseeing and had no trouble with all the walking, the information overload became wearing. That was partly why I was glad to spend my free half-day wandering without a definite goal in mind. A way to decompress.


I thought you might like having links to all my Philadelphia tales in one post. So here are the others in case you missed any.

I hope you enjoyed my travel tales. Be sure to visit this amazing city yourself someday. I’d love to read any comments on this you have.

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