Philadelphia+

Me before travelling around the States: “I’ll write all the blog posts while I’m travelling from place to place, so I can write the last post on the flight back to Europe and be done with the series by the time I start classes back in Glasgow!”

Me during said trip: *snoring and drooling on all the buses*

Here we are, almost three weeks after my return to the Continent, and I’m only just starting the third blog post – in a series of ten (ish). I’m going to pretend it’s because I’ve been busy settling back in, but honestly, I just couldn’t be bothered.

I’d like to thank the zoom function on Google Maps for letting me know that Baltimore and Philadelphia are only a few hours apart; without it, I would’ve missed out on a city with much more to offer than just cheesesteak and the Rocky Steps.

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Lost in Fragments

As I was wandering around the city, Google suggested I visit Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. The mosaic art installation was on my list of places to see, but my Dumb Thing of the Day had been to forget to copy the list down on my phone, so it was kind of the internet to remind me to go there. I would’ve missed out if I hadn’t.

The Magic Gardens were beautiful and I’d travel back to Philadelphia just to visit them again. It was by far the uniquest art experience I had while on the road and I’m beyond glad I didn’t miss out on it just because I’m an idiot.

One particular fragment of the installation that stood out to me was the one you can see in the photo below. I was overjoyed to see the word unconfined in such an interesting setting, with the backdrop of such an elaborate, imposing mosaic.

To see the freedom I’d felt in Baton Rouge by surrounding myself with amazing people (and the inherent freedom of being on the road) summed up in ten simple, beige squares was a beautiful experience. It was simple and happy.

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Segregation in Disguise

I stumbled upon the so-called gaybourhood while I was walking to the Magic Gardens. There were rainbow flags everywhere and at first, this LGBT+ heart of mine was loving it, because it’s amazing to walk into a neighbourhood where it’s obvious right off the bat that you’re (most likely) accepted for who you are.

The undiluted excitement faded to slight frustration faster than I would have liked, when it occurred to me just how obvious an example of segregation the entire concept of a gaybourhood is. I don’t know anything about the history of the neighbourhood, but I hope the development of it was rooted in positivity and pride.

As far as I’m concerned, the entire world should be the gaybourhood. Not in the sense that everyone should be gay or otherwise part of the LGBT+ community, but rather in the sense that people of all sexual orientations should feel welcomed and accepted everywhere (the same obviously goes for races, religions, nationalities, etc.)

I don’t know. I think universal acceptance is long overdue.

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The Buscemi Overdose

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve never thought to myself, “You know what’d be great? An audio tour narrated by Steve Buscemi. Now there’s an actor I can take seriously!” So I’m not sure how I felt about the fact that Eastern State Penitentiary had opted to turn that non-wish of mine into reality, but it happened.

On the list of spine-chilling places I’ve visited, the Penitentiary isn’t all that far behind Auschwitz-Birkenau, although I must admit the latter almost had me in tears. Part of the reason the Penitentiary sent chill after chill down my spine was that I visited it in -4°C weather; aside from turning my toes into ice cubes, the temperature reminded me that there were once people who had to survive the entire northeastern winter in this place, probably with a fraction of the warm clothes I had on.

Also, I believe in ghosts and remain convinced the place is haunted.

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The Pittsburgh Layover

I had ten hours in Pittsburgh and most of that time was spent being excited about seeing a good friend again, so I didn’t take much in while I was in town. What I did take in, I didn’t enjoy, but I’m sure my impatience had something to do with that.

That being said, I went to see the Snoopy Doghouse on Boulevard of the Allies, and I thought that was pretty cute. I even managed to take a decent instant photo before my camera decided it was no longer interested in helping me immortalise the trip.

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During the month I spent on the road, Philadelphia was the city that caught me most off guard with how amazing it was. I didn’t have cheese steak and I didn’t see the Liberty Bell, but I saved twenty bucks on admission to the art museum, took some quality selfies unapologetically, and jammed with my couch surfing host.

Although I appreciated not having to compromise, I was somewhere in the region of relieved to wave goodbye to travelling alone as I crossed the border from Pennsylvania to Ohio with one of my closest friends and her family.

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Brace yourself for the delayed Christmas post.

It should be up any month now!

– Cat

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