This trip was one we were suppossed to take back in March, but due to busy flights, we were unable to get on our flight. Working for the airlines is great, but it does have its downfalls. Know that this trip, as is the case with all of our vacations, is one where we are trying to see as many places as possible, as financial efficiently as possible. If you're looking for luxury, the journal may not help you.
This was our travel day, however we were suppossed to arrive in Philly at around 1pm. Due to flight delays and missed flights from these delays, we didn't arrive in town till 6pm, which really cut down on our day. We really wanted to get to downtown while it was still light, to get our bearings and see one or two things. However, this obviously didn't work out. We got a great deal through our airlines to stay at the Ramada Inn near the Philadelphia airport. This is not a new hotel, but for the price it was fantastic. Even their regular $65 rate would have been good. As usual, we stayed out the downtown area to save money. We would catch the hotel's ten minute shuttle (which was excellent,by the way) and then get on the R-1 train downtown.
A note for everyone. The rail system in Philadelphia is a nightmare. We have done Vancouver, Boston, New York, etc and this was the worst. Not only are the routes confusing if you've never been there, but it seems that no one that actually works for the system has the ability to help you. We bought ticketson the train and told the conductor we wanted to go all the way downtown. He said to get off at the 30th Street station and to go across to the subway. We clearly asked f this ticket we purchased would get us all the way there. He said yes. When we got off, we went to ask about a weekend pass or a week pass that would allow us to get on and off throughout, for all the days we were there. Plus, we hoped this may save us some money. We spent about 10 minutes at a ticket booth while we got a blank stare and a disapearance to ask a manager. The great advice that we finally got from this worker? It may end up being cheaper to rent a car. So we found our way to the subway, only to find out the tickets we bought don't work on the subway. You see, the rail system and the subways, buses, etc all work independantly, despite sharing stations. The subway guy was nice enough to let us through and informed us that what the conductor said was incorrect and that had we just stayed on the rail system,it would have essentially taken us exactly where we wanted to go. My suggestion? Before you get there go to the SEPTA website and try to figure it out yourself. Similar to Boston, the website is a little confusing, however you're better off spending the time trying to figure it out on the front end. Do not rely on workers to be able to correctly direct you.
Once we got in town, we got a quick bite and headed to buy tickets to the Star Wars exibit for Friday evening. We like Star Wars and thought it be neat to see some of the science behind it. It turns out that the Logan's Circle, St. Paul's Basilica, Benjamin Franklin Monument and Franklin Institute are within 2 minutes of each other and take about ten minutes to get around. But we wanted to save as much as we could for the next day. Once we got the tickets, the plan was to head down to the Lights of Liberty on the other end of town. We had fully planned on getting a taxi, but after walking over to the Franklin Institute for our Star Wars tickets, we realized the city was pretty walkable. A 20 minute walk or so later and we were already there.
Lights of Liberty - Amazing light show that incorporates most of the historic buildings. It is a little pricey at $19.50 per adult, but a very interesting hour long show, You walk around the city as you see the sights and sounds of the Birth of America. My wife thought it was very good, but didn't know whether it was worthe the price. For me, as a Canadian, my opinion was that while many countries are unquestionably very patriotic, many don't do this type of thing. For example, Canadians are VERY patriotic and will put on an amazing light show at the capital on Canada Day or for other national events. This show is incredibly patriotic and is put on several times a week!! To see the Decleration of Independence scrolling up Independence Hall and eventually fade to the flag waving, is incredibly moving, regardless of nationality.