A Winter Break in Philadelphia

We are over Winter, but apparently Winter is not over us.  My sister and I needed a getaway. Where did we flee? North to Philadelphia!

Some people might think 1) Philly is an odd choice; and 2) we fled in the wrong direction.  But, my sister and I had a plan. Indoor activities. Culture. Food. Friends.  Plus, Philly is an underrated getaway for the two big cities south of it, and it’s within easy reach.

Heading north by car, we viewed the bleak palette of the winter landscape, and crossed semi-frozen rivers on our way to the city. Cheryl and I had optimistically dressed for milder weather only to realize the temperature was going to stay around 24 degrees all weekend — and outerwear to break the wind would have been nice. Even with layers underneath, our wool coats were not enough.

Spring will come one day, but there was nary a sign of it outdoors.

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We are *so* over Winter.

This Winter is a relationship that has gone sour, and we were ready for a flirtation with Spring. Other than sprinting from a warm building to a car, we dealt with Winter as little as possible.

We spent our first few hours at the Barnes Foundation.  This museum has the largest private collection of Impressionist art in the country. The art exhibits set the tone for the weekend, and provided visual stimulation with color and the hope of Spring. We could photograph the architecturally fabulous building with its huge lobby spaces, but not the art itself.

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The Barnes Foundation museum cafe is first-class. The food and staff were great. Even the cafe had an unusual fabric art installation.

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Cheryl and me at the Barnes Foundation Cafe.

We could easily have spent a whole day at the Barnes Foundation. After visiting the museum, we dropped our things off at the Westin Hotel in Rittenhouse Square and headed for dinner.

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It was Restaurant Week in Philly. We were lucky to get a 5 p.m. reservation at Iron Chef Jose Garces’ restaurant, Amada, in Old Town. Jamon Iberico de bellota was on the menu! Cheryl got to check out what I’d been raving about since I was in Spain last year. She agreed:  Yup — that pork really is special! In addition to the ham, I had the wild mushrooms and a ridiculously good salad.

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Hams hung from the ceiling in the bar.

Jamon Iberico de bellota. Appetizer of caper berries and baby gherkins with spicy mustard.

Jamon Iberico de bellota. Appetizer of caper berries and baby gherkins with spicy mustard.

The next morning, we met my friends, Beverly and Karen, for breakfast at Down Home Diner. We met in Philly when I was in graduate school and have been friends ever since. Our visit with them was a good start to the day. The Diner was in Reading Terminal across the street from the Convention Center, where we had tickets to the Flower Show!

This event was organized by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. The promise of Spring showed up in the flower arrangements, landscapes, vignettes, pressed flower art, and fairy houses.

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Spring, I fantasize about you….

We returned to Maryland to find no promise of Spring. Instead, there was the promise of a Winter snow and ice storm for the rest of the weekend. Back to reality….

Winter, we are *so* over you.

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