The Free Library has hundreds of records to borrow or just listen. Much of the extensive collection (jazz, rock, classical, etc.) is computer catalogued, but some is still in card files. Two record players are available for listening.
The Beetles (still) hold the title for most requested.
A Rainy Day In Philly: Exploring The Free Library & Polish Home Cooking
Philly’s iconic LOVE sculpture returned Tuesday after a year-long renovation. It was welcomed back with a mini-parade through downtown. Since Tobey and I were in town, we decided to join the welcome parade as it moved down the Ben Franklin Parkway:
Being in the right place at the right time… Tobey had her first television interview!
Finished the day with chocolates from Reading Terminal:
We willingly wait in line for an hour in the summer, but have never visited in the winter. However, when we saw our favorite food truck was open, we decided to brave the snow and wind. Arriving 25 minutes before opening, we were first in line and were rewarded with a cup of spicy soup (actually the sauce he uses over the rice, but works as a soup, too!). I’ve written about the Octopus food truck before (The Advantages of Wandering: A Medieval Herbal And The Best $10 Lunch In Philadelphia), but it deserves another mention. While the basic lunch is always the same (rice, sauce, grilled chicken and falafel), the seasonal fruits and veggies vary. Today, we were rewarded with blueberries, a variety of grapes, a whole mandarin orange, and cauliflower (I’m not a big cauliflower fan, but ate every bite!). Since eating outside picnic-style wasn’t an option in this weather, we ate in the food court of the Comcast Building just around the block (Picnic Spots). The leftovers (you get a giant portion for $10) made a great lunch stuffed in a pita the next day).
We spent the rest of our time exploring the (FREE – just present id at the security booth) contemporary art galleries at Moore College. Moore College was founded in 1848 as the first women’s art college in the United States. Located right in the heart of the museum district, it makes a great stop if you have some extra time and want a free activity. The exhibits rotate, so there is always something new to see (the current exhibit is dedicated to work by the Guerrilla Girls).
I’ve written about the Free Library before (A Library That Houses The Best (Free) Museum In Philly That No One Knows), but there is a lot more to explore than the very cool rare book department – enough to occupy a few rainy -day hours. Start with the free hour-long building tour that explores the architecture, history and collections of the 19th century building. After the tour (in addition to actual books), visitors can:
*listen to records and cds
*borrow and play an instrument
*examine the world’s largest lending library of orchestral music
*view fine art prints, photographs, etc. (appointment recommended)
*explore the map collection
*view one of the many rotating exhibits (on view today: Leonard Bernstein memorabilia, photographs of the history of the Ben Franklin Parkway, epistolary novels and homemade art books)
*The museum also offers cooking classes, author talks, theater performances and concerts
We used the pouring rain as an excuse to get in the car and drive 15 minutes to the Port Richmond section of the city. Home to a large Polish community and “The Dinner House” – where we feasted on sour rye soup, potato pancake with goulash and potato & cheese pierogi… and finished with a cheese danish from a local bakery.
Every New Year’s Day, I wonder what the heck a “mummer” is – today we found out at the Mummer’s Museum. This is a small museum (admission was “pay what you wish” on the cold, January day we visited) filled with videos, costumes, memorabilia and best of all… dress-ups with a video to teach the mummer’s strut. We will definitely return for one of their (free) Thursday evening summer concerts.
Only about a mile walk from the tacky shops and restaurants on South Street, we checked out the new (tasty!) Bahn Mi & Bottles restaurant for Vietnamese street food:
And (best of all) homemade pie from Magpies (see Philly Ice Cream Treats – From Traditional To Trendy To Unusual) for info on their yummy pie milkshakes):
Mexican Chocolate & Oatmeal Cookie Pie
Where else can you take a yoga class next to the fountain of a 13th century French monastery, surrounded by medieval architecture and stained glass? In the winter, yoga at the Philadelphia Museum of Art moves inside – this year to the Medieval galleries. Free with admission (you provide the mat), 2 classes are offered every Wednesday evening. Wednesday nights at the art museum also offer tours, games and art-making – this week was card making:
After the museum, we took a walk down the Parkway to check out the latest outdoor art installation (Winter Fountains – through March 18, 2018). By day, they look like odd white domes, but by night, they are illuminated with 3-D video images:
In the summer, free, Wednesday night yoga is held in the outdoor sculpture garden: Yoga And Juice (And A Popsicle)
Start with the 11:00 Holiday Spectacular at Comcast – 15 minutes of Philly-themed video and music on one of the world’s largest highest-resolution LED displays – ending with an audience sing-a-long and a shower of “snow” over the audience.
The 11:00 show ends with plenty of time to walk to Macy’s for the 12:00 light show (with time to spare to look at the holiday themed window displays). Although they’ve updated with LED lights, the show is definitely low tech fun (with the voice of Julie Andrews as the narrator). The bonus of seeing the 12:00 show is that the finale is played live on the Wanamaker organ.
You can stick around for an additional 1/2 hour of live organ music, or go right up to the 3rd floor for a walk through the Dickens Village, a scene by scene animatronic recreation of “A Christmas Carol” – from Marley’s ghost to the blessing of Tiny Tim.
Finish up with the model trains and lunch at Reading Terminal Market. The perfect ending? A peppermint (or any) donut from Bieler’s.
For more information on the Wanamaker Organ and free concerts: The World’s Largest Organ, A Historic Landmark Building And Free Concerts (while you shop)
Yes – the world’s largest fully functioning pipe organ is not in a church – it’s in the Macy’s Department Store in Philadelphia and FREE concerts are played daily at 12:00 (evening concert times vary) by master organists. You can listen and shop, or tuck yourself into one of the niches on the second floor girl’s clothing section – where you can watch the organist play.
Opened in 1911, and dedicated by President Taft, Wanamaker’s was the first department store in Philadelphia – and one of the first in the country. On the National Register of Historic Places, the interior of building is an architectural gem.
Like many cities, Philadelphia is working to improve access to its waterfront, and the Schuylkill Trail is now extends far enough for a nice, traffic free walk (although it can get crowded with joggers and bikers). These photos are from our latest explorations – from the skate park by the Art Museum down to South Street, where the path goes out into the river.
As a reminder of its industrial past, the railroad tracks run next to the trail, which is fun for those of us who enjoy watching trains.
I’m a planner, so most of our adventures are planned out – after all, we usually have only 4 hours to explore, but sometimes we let fate guide us. Today was one of those days.Find #1: The Philadelphia Horticultural Society Library. Who can resist an poster for “Two Herbals: Picturing Nature from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance”? Not me (although Tobey says that she can… easily). Currently on display at the library are two of their oldest books – a Medieval Herbal (from 1517 – the oldest book in their collection) and a Renaissance Herbal (from 1542). In addition to these, they have a computer showing artwork from other herbals of the period. As Harry Potter fans, we enjoyed the images of the mandrake plant:
Find #2: The Octopus Food Truck. The long line and delicious smell led us to this unique culinary adventure. During our 45 minute wait, we had plenty of time to learn the proper protocol (leading to many comparisons on the Yelp site to the “Soup Nazi” from Seinfeld):
*No ordering. Gus prepares one meal and that’s what you get.
*No napkins or utensils or bag. Bring your own or stop by the Starbucks on the corner.
*One meal per person. No exceptions.
*No chit-chat. Unless Gus initiates the conversation.
*Serving starts at 12:00 and continues until mid-afternoon when the food runs out.
There is a reason people come from all over the city and use up their entire lunch hour waiting in line – the food is fantastic. All prepared (using wood charcoal) while you wait, using the freshest ingredients, each meal usually includes a few falafels and grilled chicken – after that, the menu changes daily. Our lunch included: char-grilled brussel sprouts, greens, blueberries, honey dew/mint, rice, sauce and a spicy grilled pepper. We have now been initiated into the club and will join the rest of the fans who happily spend their lunch hour waiting in line for the best $10 lunch in the city. Yum. Yum. Yum!