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PhiladelphiaI’ve spent the past five months living just outside of downtown Philadelphia. I’d always heard people make comments about Philly as they would of New Jersey or Long Island, “You’re moving to Philly,” they’d ask me…rhetorically of course, the words dripped with condescension. “You don’t want to move there, do you?” Rhetorical question once again. I got the point. Philly, they said, had too much crime, was dirty, and wouldn’t have anything for me, a 23 year-old urban explorer, to do.

Actually, they were wrong.

Philadelphia wasn’t as romantic as London or as bustling as NYC, but Philly surprised me in a million ways. Sure, there were sketchy parts of the city-just as there are in NYC, London, or even Denver-but you learn quickly to avoid them (except if you want to find cheap groceries, then you grab friends and make an event of it). The city wasn’t any dirtier than any of the other cities I’ve lived in over the last three years, but what struck me most was how quiet it was, how appropriate the people-to-sidewalk ratio was, how beautiful the murals adorning the sides of old warehouses and buildings throughout the city were, and how history was thick and rich everywhere I turned. I loved it! I like to say the only thing I drop like it’s hot is history knowledge. I learned so much about our great nation’s history (USA!) and saw several of its most important edifices and artifacts too.

James Madison

And the food! How can I forget the food (or coffee?)? As a hard-core glutard (gluten-free sounds too hoity-toity to my ears), I feel like a pain and get embarrassed when I have to ask for alternative dishes at a restaurant. To my delight, I found Philly to be more than accomadating, even a haven for foodies and those with way too many food allergies (aren’t they the same thing?). I can’t wait to come back for a day trip with NYC friends for a food and coffee crawl.

Independence Hall

One of my favorite spots sits on Market Street, a block away from Christ Church (where the Founders and Framers worshiped in the 18th century! When I say it’s gorgeous, I mean it. Plus, seven signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried in the graveyard outside!) and a five minute trot from Independence Hall (HELLO Georgian architecture! Makes me swoon. Seriously.). Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about it.

High Table on Market Street

Philly, you’ve been fun.