My next adventure: Istanbul/Eskişehir (Türkiye) – April 2024

Day 2 – Rolling Around Philadelphia

You would of thought by now that my body clock would be used to different time zones considering the places I have travelled to, clearly not as I woke around 4:15am this morning!

Anyway, when I booked our cheap hotel (which I will give you the low down on tomorrow), I conveniently paid for breakfast so we could simply get up and go, however, we all know by now, nothing is ever simple when your with me! We searched around the hotel for breakfast but to no avail so resorted to a diner just around the corner which serves typically American breakfast foods, pancakes etc.

It was then time to begin our American train experience as we crossed the road entering Penn station. New York Penn station has multiple levels, however, the signs are pretty simple directing you where to go, failing that there is good old information desks! If your catching the Acela, you are entitled to enter the designated seating area which is also where the ‘The Red Cap’ desk is located. The ‘Red Caps’ provide the usual assistance getting on and off trains as in any other country. You may remember that I caught a VIA Canadian train a few years back and a lift was used to get me and Superbunny on and off so I was a little surprised when they brought out a tiny little ramp. It became clear as the Acela Express came in that the train was almost flush with the platform (even lower than the new IET’s that have just been introduced in the UK) thus the ramp was merely to bridge the gap…

Now when I booked the train a few weeks ago, I’m pretty sure that I requested all 3 of us to be sat together, however, something must of got lost in translation as it transpired that I was in First Class on my own and my 2 PAs were down the other end in Business Class (that will teach me for not checking the E-ticket prior!). No matter though as it was just like my weekly train trip to Oxford! As usual, I made friends with some of the train crew as we approached Philadelphia chatting about how I’m from England, the current weather situation etc.

After a swift exit from 34th Street station, we headed towards our first port of call, The Eastern State Penitentiary making a slight diversion to visit the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the famous ‘Rocky Steps’…

The use of Google Maps always comes in handy whilst I’m on my travels and non more so to get us to the Eastern State Penitentiary, it also gave us an insight into the Philadelphia way of life as we made our way through housing estates…

It’s hard not to miss the high walls of the Penitentiary as you get closer to the entrance. Usually visitors have to enter through a side entrance, however, as it contains a flight of steps, I was fortunate enough to enter the Penitentiary through the iron gates and get a view of what the first thing that a prisoner would have seen…

The Penitentiary itself has been left as it was when the last prisoner left with paint falling off the walls and bits of rubble falling down from the ceiling (of course these areas are blocked off from the public!), bar some ramps to make most of the attraction accessible. You may ask why they haven’t tidied it up, the answer to that lies on a display board which explains that they wish to keep it as it is for an authentic feel…

Even though we spent around 2 hours there, you could easily spend a whole day just walking around each corridor.

As I said in the itinerary I wanted to experience a genuine Philly Cheesesteak  and Google strikes again in finding a restaurant close to the Penitentiary. When I looked at it on street view, it didn’t look a dodgy area but in reality it was, I guess it could be worse, it could’ve been in Chicago. Also the restaurant was more like a takeaway where the seating area had picnic tables attached to it but it did not detract from the overall food experience.

The plan was to catch the subway into town however as we were running out of time we thought it would be easier just to walk to the downtown area and visit the observation deck at One Liberty Place or see Philly From The Top as it’s sometimes referred to.  As with many towers, it offered spectacular views across Philadelphia and, in particular, the Comcast tower which is the tallest in the city… Fun fact for the day!

No trip to America would be complete for me without visiting a Cheesecake Factory so this is exactly what we did before catching the train back, oh, and purchasing some Philadelphia Eagles merchandise.

As at Penn Station, the Red Cap assisted me onto the train. I have just realised that I haven’t wrote about the actual on-board experience for a wheelchair. The trains in American and Canada are on a wider gauge meaning that the train has extra space in the corridor so it’s easier to move about, however the wheelchair space is situated opposite another seat and table so effectively you’re backing onto the seat behind you. As on the Beijing subway, there are floor restraints available but Superbunny is able to hold its own. As it was dark on the way back to New York, it felt like my weekly train trip back from Oxford and a perfect time to do Mindfulness. However, my PA’s were having a totally different experience with one of the train crew hassling them to check up on me even though they repeatedly said that I was fine!!

Tomorrow we stay in New York City and the plan is to catch the subway from Penn Station down to the tallest building in the western hemisphere, the World Trade Centre or The Freedom Tower as it’s commonly referred to before heading to Ellen’s Stardust diner because, let’s face it, no trip to New York will be complete without a visit 🙂

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Day 1 – The London Gatwick Experience

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Day 3 – Rolling Around New York

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