Laura, Gigi and I went to Philly at the end of January to visit the city and some friends we have up there. As soon as we arrived we were thrown into the social scene of UPenn. We stayed with Josh, boyfriend of Linda, and his house had a cool downstairs bar and was full of people from the get-go. We headed to a local bar, which was a lot different from the UNC nightlife, but fun nevertheless.
The next day, we raised our heavy heads and headed in to Philly centre. We saw the Liberty Bell, a symbol of freedom in the US, and the Independence Hall, which is where the famous declaration was signed. It was nice to get a bit of culture, and the weather was lovely, which helped. There we had a romantic reunion with Liz, our good friend who studied abroad at King’s, and we got the train back to hers.
Liz lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, which for the Gilmore Girls fans among you is basically the real life version of Stars Hollow. Her house is white and beautiful, and we had a great catch up night there. The next day, Liz drove us up to Amish Country.
I’m sure most of you reading this know about my infamous association with the Amish; for those of you who don’t, here’s a summary. When I was in Year 10, our English class had to give a speech on ‘something that interests’ us. I had just devoured ‘Plain Truth’ by Jodi Picoult, and thus decided upon the Amish. I researched, prepared and practised my speech… it was fine. But as I began to deliver my speech to my English class, I said ‘The Amish, pronounced Ah-mish…’ Looks fine written down, doesn’t it? But aloud, its kindof dumb. So the entire class erupted in laughter, and I was mortified, and had to stop my speech. From there on in I was forever associated with the plain-clothed people, which I have embraced, even dressing up as an Amish wife for Thanksgiving.
Thus, as my bucket list for America has grown, one of my essential pitstops has always been Amish Country. So, that’s why on Saturday, we all headed for Intercourse. Yes, Intercourse, the town. The irony wasn’t lost on the souvenir shops either. First of all we visited a model Amish village, touring an Amish house and seeing their way of life. Then we decided to experience it first hand. We drove through the town, meeting Amish people on the way as their horse and buggies rode past.
I found it fascinating that these people live an untouched, totally preserved way of life. I learnt that the people were invited over by William Penn himself, who knew of their persecution in Germany and the Netherlands, and wished for their farming knowledge and expertise. Indeed, Amish farming materials are still produced and sold today. Its true that they hate being photographed, but I managed to snap a few subtle pictures. What I was glad about was that Laura, Gigi and Liz - none of whom have the slightest affiliation with the Amish - seemed to really enjoy the day. It was really like stepping into the past, a real experience.
Back to Philly we went, and we headed out to an Indian. It was nice to have a taste of home… how ironic. And most of the eateries in Philly are BYOA because the licensing laws are tough, so we chowed down with our New England cider. Food was followed by a UPenn dubstep party… yes, they have a very different idea of dubstep in America, but it was good craic nonetheless. One guy I met told me he’s planning on taking a dubstep tour of Europe this summer… wow. UPenn as a whole was a nice place, very prestigious feeling, but I’m glad I ended up at Chapel Hill. The people I met were lovely, but the vibe was EXACTLY like ‘The Social Network’ - Sorkin and Fincher got the Ivy League driven-coolness spot on. Plus, Philly was a dark, grey city - I like my sunny Carolina.
On the final day, we decided to squeeze in another ounce of culture and hit up the Museum of Art. A majestic building upon a hill, the gallery has beautiful views of the entire city of Philadelphia. Cue another photo. When we went in, we realised the museum was not free, and was in fact $20. As poor students, we debated leaving, and were overheard by a museum guard. She approached us, offered us pins, and let us in for free as her guests. I was genuinely touched by such a lovely gesture by someone who we didn’t know. So we perused the art, and headed back into the centre, where we met Liz at the Philadelphia Chocolate Factory. One word: delicious. We won’t discuss how much time or money was spent there, but lets just say it was worth it. We flew home satisfied after a wonderful weekend.