Philadelphia and the new capital

Did you know that Philadelphia was the capital of the U.S.A. before Washington D.C. even existed? Building of the current capital city wasn’t completed until 24 years after the United States became a country, and 13 years after the constitution was written in Independence Hall, formerly the Pennsylvania state house, and the current building printed on the back of the $100 bill.

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Grant, Ursula and me in front of Independence Hall

Philadelphia, as a city, is a living piece of American history, the entire city scattered with historic buildings and iconic landmarks. Some of the oldest churches and neighbourhoods in America are right around the city center, including Eflreth’s alley, the nation’s oldest residential street dating from 1702. Christ Church, built in 1695, is one of the oldest churches in America, and was the tallest building in North America until 1810.

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Christ Church

Our host was Grant, the jolliest pianoman I’ve ever met. He plays and sings at Tavern nightclub every Wednesday on a grand piano which doubles as a bar, but on the Sunday we went to drink champagne, the pianoman had been a noshow and Grant stepped in. He was paid for an hours performance, which turned his party night into a net-profit evening. He officially wins the badge of Philly’s best private tour guide – I knew it the moment we had our first cheese steak, but within another 12 hours, he had shown us all the city’s highlights.

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the piano at Tavern

I was visiting Ursula, my one and only college room mate from Semester at Sea in 2006. Twelve years later, she is one of my oldest, bestest friends, and though we see each other barely once a year, its always a shitshow. We were in Washington DC for three nights, which involved a plethora of friends, dinners, bottles, bars and clubs. Chicken and Whiskey was the most memorable – the front house is a fast food, fried chicken joint, and if you walk through it to the back, a door opens up into a specialty whiskey bar.

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Ursula and I celebrating her becoming a homeowner from her new balcony

We ate dinner at Compass Rose, one of the most international menu’s I’ve seen yet, with wines and foods from all over the world – Morocco and Georgia were well represented. Medium Rare was a restaurant which only has one menu – salad, steak and fries – you pay $20, and get unlimited amounts of any or all of the above. ‘Murica!

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