Of course, I also had time to explore Philadelphia a bit. Vacations are not built on chess alone. During my explorations I stumbled upon the Reading Terminal Market. It’s a pretty spectacular collection of small concessions, most of them selling food of one sort or another. Here are a few random shots to give you the flavor:
That one had me wanting to buy some veggies and make a big salad in my hotel room, but there were a few practical problems with that.
That’s a lot of sausages.
Sadly, a handful of photos can’t really capture the feel of the place. It seems to go on forever, and the place was mobbed both with shoppers and with people eating lunch. I think if I lived in Philadelphia I’d be hanging out there quite a lot.
I also had time for a show at the Walnut Street Theater. I saw Miss Saigon.
Good show, but a total downer. I saw the Saturday matinee, and I’m pretty sure I was the youngest one there. Here’s a random crowd shot:
Since the hotel was very close to Chinatown, I certainly was not hurting for good dining options. But the highlight was definitely the lunch I had at Iron Chef Masaharu Moriomoto’s restasurant.
That sign was so understated, I didn’t even notice it at first. When the cab driver told me we had arrived I gave him a skeptical look.
Some of the detail got lost when I compressed the picture, but the inside had a very interesting decor.
I opted for their tasting menu, where they bring you small portions of seven random dishes. All of them were delicious and well worth the sizable bill I paid for them. There was one funny moment, though. At the start of the meal they ask you if you have any food allergies or anything like that. I mentioned that I absolutely detest cheese, even though that’s not generally problem in Japanese restaurants. My server told me that that none of the dishes would have cheese. I replied that I have seen certain sushi rolls that are made with cream cheese. She looked horrified and explained that they would never do that here.
The meal proceeded nicely until desert. Then they brought me a slice of cheesecake! Granted, it was a very beautiful piece of cheesecake, but it was cheese nonetheless. I said to my server, “Did you think I was kidding when I said I don’t eat cheese?” She looked puzzled and said, “Oh. I didn’t realize that you were including desert in that.” They were very apologetic and then brought me a scoop of ice cream in a sort of coffee gelatin. It was actually pretty good, even though coffee flavored items aren’t really among my favorites either.
Anyway, I should also mention the Whodunit Mystery Bookstore.
It’s just the kind of used bookstore I like. Lots of musty old books loosely organized and piled high.
I mentioned to the proprietor that I really like locked-room mysteries. So we printed out the list from the end of this Wikipedia article, and then went scurrying around the store finding as many of them as we could. We did rather well, actually, and the proprietor was full of little historical tidbits about some of the more obscure writers. Looks like I won’t be hurting for reading material for a while.
Also interesting was the Mutter Museum.
It’s a museum of medical curiosities. Lot of skulls and skeletons, as well as tumors, bezoars, and other grotesque things that had been removed from people’s bodies. Some of the exhibits were a bit horrifying, but it was fascinating nonetheless. It’s a small museum and it only took me just over an hour to see everything. Frankly, more than that might have killed my appetite for the rest of the day.
For good measure, I wandered over to the Franklin Institute and saw an IMAX movie about mummies. I didn’t take a picture of that, sorry. The film was visually spectacular, but a bit disappointing nonetheless.
So, I would have to say my few days in Philadelphia were very enjoyable.