Monday, February 18, 2008

South Philly

On the third Monday in February, people in the US celebrate Presidents Day: the birthday of George Washington. His actual birthday is February 22, but over here they thought that the third Monday was easier to remember. Being American or not, this means: a long weekend!

This gave me some time to check out some places in Philly, and, since I finally got my Social Security Number: get a PA drivers license! Last Saturday, on my way to the DMV (where they give away licenses, once you have all the administration) I thought: what is going to go wrong this time? Maybe they don’t understand my VISA status, maybe I do not have enough prove that I actually reside at my current address? No, it should all be set. Then I arrived at the DMV office… closed. Simple, it’s Presidents Day next Monday, and we feel like having a long weekend but we are too lazy to put it on the DMV website. Thanks guys! Well, the longer I don’t have a car, the more money I save, let’s stay positive…

I was glad to live in the center of the city: it gives me the opportunity to walk to nice places. Last Sunday I scheduled a walk to see some interesting places in South Philly. Close to my apartment is ‘Camac Street’, which completely changes the street image: from a busy street filled with people, cars and even bikes, you walk into a quiet European-look-a-like street, with old houses and beautiful architecture. Camac Street's nickname is ‘Avenue of the Artists’, because the artists used to live here. Today, it is filled with restaurants, bars, and even a law office!

From Camac Street I walked to South Street. This street is familiar because of the wall paintings and other forms of art. Walls are filled with art to prevent graffiti, which gives a unique street image! With a unique store: ‘Utrecht Art Supplies’ (Utrecht is a city in the Netherlands). You can also see artists opening up their garden with different forms of art; a brand-new condo building next to an old, closed house; and many sport fields.

I walked on to 9th street, also known as the Italian Market. This is the oldest and largest outdoor-market in the US! Like the ‘Albert Cuyp’ in Amsterdam. After walking around (I didn’t really need anything, except for a car but unfortunately they didn’t sell them) I walked to the end of the market towards one of the most famous places in Philly: the corner of Pat’s and Gino’s. Two Cheesesteak rivals, always challenging each other to make the best Cheesesteak – which is simply a sandwich with steak, melted cheese, and (optional) onions. Sounds simple, but it is very famous over here! (and very tasty!!!!) Last summer I visited Pat’s, so this time I went to Gino’s.

The way of ordering this Cheesesteak is just as famous as the Cheesesteak itself. Choose your cheese, and with- or without onions. For example, a Cheesesteak with American Cheese without onions is an ‘American without’, and that's all you should say. If you make a mistake while ordering, or you don’t do it fast enough: no problem, just go to the back of the line, practice it, and try again. Both places were extremely busy. Conclusion: bad service, long waiting times, and it wasn’t cheap ($ 7,50); in other words: name branding is a great business model!

Camac Street:

You think you arrived in a European city...

Until you see those flags again!

Camac Street: Law Office

Camac Street: Law Office

Utrecht Art Supplies!

Art on South Street:

A brand new condo building... next to this old, closed house

The Italian Market

Philly Cheesesteak!

How to order a Cheesesteak


And it's rival Pat's

Sport fields in South Philly

They can also be art!