ROOM FOR ONE: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Why did you go it alone? Originally I’d planned to go with a co-worker - both of us were really stressed and needed a bit of a break. She ended up backing out and I decided to try it on my own. I wanted to go someplace I hadn’t been and because I was on my own, I wanted it to be someplace where I knew I would be close to home.
Philadelphia was a big city but there was a small town charm to it. As much as I didn’t think I’d care about American history, I found it pretty appealing…the Liberty Bell, some of the roads were cobblestone roads, going to Benjamin Franklin’s grave…the penitentiary. As creepy as that may sound, it was interesting to see the architecture of the old buildings. In most of the big American cities I’ve visited, I didn’t always see that historical part.
What was your favorite thing about the city?
(Right: Elfreth's Alley, often referred to as the oldest continuously inhabited street in America. )
My favorite thing was all the museums that they had. They had tones and there was just lots to do. I ended up going to the Rodin museum – just as good as seeing his work in Paris - and to the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the Rocky statue. That was fun. Rocky is one of my favorite movies. It’s a big bronze statue that they built when they were making the movie and there is a whole scene where they unveil the statue on the steps of the museum. Apparently when they finished filming, the museum didn’t like the fact that the statue was still on their property so they moved it to the city limits but then they lost traffic so they moved it back but relocated it to the bottom of the stairs.
(On the Left: Rodin Museum)
What do you recommend? The LOVE, statue by artist Robert Indiana in John F. Kennedy Plaza. It’s one I’ve always liked and just seeing it makes you feel good.
What was your most memorable experience? I discovered, while wandering that Les Misérables was playing in a small theatre down the street from my hotel. So I bought myself a solo ticket and spent my Saturday night seeing that play for the 6th time! It wasn’t as good as some of the other productions I’ve seen but I could sing all the words to myself relatively loud, while they were doing the play and it didn’t matter because nobody knew who I was!
Worst/Most embarrassing moment? My first dinner alone was pretty awkward. I don't like eating by myself to begin with and I ate at a place close to the hotel that was modern and trendy that I thought would be okay but it was jam packed with groups of University kids and here I was at a little table for two. That’s when I really felt like I’m here by myself. I didn’t have a book. From there I changed my eating habits and made my bigger meal of the day lunch at about 3:00 and I bought a tour book or a magazine to take with me so if it did get uncomfortable I had something to read.
(Debuted during the 1976 bicentennial celebration. Philadelphians were incensed when it was removed and returned to the artist. In response, F. Eugene Dixon, former owner of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team, bought the sculpture and donated it to the city in 1978.)
Got any solo travel tips? I will admit that I called my sister several times a day to just chat. It’s part of my regular routine. I think my phone bill was $500. When you're travelling alone, sometimes you need that connection. Also, be well briefed on the city and what you want to do. You do not want to look helpless and come off as a “tourist”. I think one of the reasons I did not have any issues was that I was confident where I was going. I actually had several tourists ask me for directions!
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