It has been 30 days since I moved to Philadelphia. Amazing. It has flown by faster than Spring Break in Porta Vallerta.
In the last month, I have experienced several new life experiences. From running up the front porch of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to playing the slots in Atlantic City.
With each days, comes a new lesson. Since I have been here for 30 days, I thought I would share with you 30 nuggets I have learned.
1) Yuengling Beer. I thought I would save this for number 30, but who am I kidding. The first thing I learned was America’s oldest brewery, Yuengling, is brewed in Philadelphia. It is available everywhere, for cheap. It costs the same as Budweiser or Miller and tastes much better, even coming in different flavors, like lager, black and tan or red. I am still confused how to pronounce Yuengling. According to wikipedia, its a bastardization of the last name of the German immigrant who started the brewery, whose last name was Jungling, and they changed it so it was easier to say – like Young Ling. Of course, when I try to order it last weekend, the waitress had no idea what I was trying to say. It was like I was trying to order okonomeyaki at an Italian restaurant.
2) Which leads us to all of the Philadelphia landmarks with weird names. For instance, the Schuylkill River. Huh? Do you pronounce it “Skill-kill?” “School-kill?” “Bernard?” Or what about Bala Cynwyd, Juniata Park, Llanerch or Delaware. Who comes up with these names?
3) At least the east-west streets are named after trees and the north-south streets are numbered.
4) Which makes Philadelphia relatively easy to navigate. I have yet to get lost, which is saying something. (Lisa, my editor, might object to that point.)
5) You can jaywalk. When I lived in Boston, I was told when crossing the street, “You have to be crazier than they are,” they being the drivers. In Tokyo, jaywalking is verboten. I’m not sure what the penalty is, I will have to check with my editor, but you do NOT jaywalk. Same thing in San Diego. A jaywalking ticket in San Diego was a worse fine than possession of marijuana. When I came to Philadelphia, I couldn’t tell how seriously they took jaywalking, because when walking with Lisa, we always waited for the light to change. Now after being here for a month, I have come to realize – go ahead and cross the street. Nobody’s gonna stop ya.
6) Driving is not as stressful as anticipated. Chicago, New York City and Boston are much worse for transport. In Philadelphia, when you turn on your turn signal, somebody actually lets you change lanes. Last week when I was stuck in rush hour traffic, it only took 15 minutes to get into New Jersey.
7) There are excellent radio stations. While stuck in rush hour traffic I was able to surf through classic rock, alternative rock and hip hop stations, every one with a bangin’ song. And only one country station.
8) The pizza and burritos are terrible.
9) But the sandwiches, or hoagies, are sensational. Every eating establishment is required to have a delectable Philly cheesesteak, and they never let you down. But they also have mouth-watering hoagies. Yesterday I went to Good Day Deli, just four blocks away, and had possibly the best sandwich ever – a pastrami on a French roll topped with coleslaw and thousand island dressing. For $7.50, I got a huge sandwich, homemade potato chips, pickles and drink. It reminded me of Boston – working at Craig’s Cafe.
10) Drinks are freakin’ expensive. For happy hour, the special is $3 Yuenglings. In Iowa, you pay $3 for an import. Perhaps one of the reasons for the high rate of alcoholics and wife beating in the Midwest. In Philadelphia, I can’t afford to have more than two drinks a night when the average beer costs $8.
11) Philadelphia has A.D.D. in comparison to New York. Philadelphia isn’t hyperactive, it just suffers from a lack of publicity. It is always coming in third place behind New York and Boston. New York has the Macy’s Parade. Philadelphia has the Ikea Parade. New York has Babe Ruth. Philadelphia has Mike Schmidt. Boston has the Boston Tea Party. Philadelphia has the Liberty Bell, which lets face it, is a bell with a crack in it. It was like waiting in line to see the world’s largest frying pan in Brandon, Iowa. You pretty much know what you are going to see before you get there.
12) Philadelphia does a much better job of preserving its historic sites and artifacts. Every street is cobblestone. Every alley was once a colonial thoroughfare. Betsy Ross’ house is still standing. When I went to Boston Harbor to see the tea party site, it was under construction.
13) Sports rule in Philadelphia. Eagles. Phillies. Flyers. 76ers. Union. Michael Vick has been on the front page of every newspaper and everybody wears at least one piece of Philadelphia sports paraphernalia.
14) I can’t wait to witness a Philadelphia sports game in person. I was speaking with a local, who said if you are an outsider at an Eagles game, you will be welcomed by the home crowd, so long as you cheer and scream as if your firstborn was at risk if the Eagles didn’t score a touchdown.
15) The 76ers need to rescue Allen Iverson from Turkey, like Arnold Schwarzenegger rescuing Alyssa Milano from Val Verde in Commando. If Iverson came back, I would consider buying season tickets. Seriously, how can you ever get tired of this.
That’s the end of part 1. Stay tuned for part 2.