Visiting the Reading Terminal Market was far and away the best part of our trip to Philadelphia earlier this month, mostly because food is the one thing we will always, always, always treat ourselves to, especially when trying something new.
I have vague memories of visiting the Market when I was younger. My dad’s family is from the Philadelphia area, and is remember visiting the city right after my uncle moved from the suburbs into one of the densely-packed brownstone townhouse neighborhoods that span block after square block. My memory of this first visit is faint and consisted mostly of younger, shorter Ellie looking up at a lot of things; it’s basically a haze of sensory overload. That same sensory overload hit me again after walking into the Reading Terminal Market with Brian over a decade later. We didn’t know where to begin, and wound up eating three full meals before our two-or-so hour trip was over.
Of the three mornings we had in Philadelphia, we spent two at the market stuffing our faces. It was lovely to wake up in the morning and take a brisk 20-minute walk to the market for fresh doughnuts made by Amish bakers (the best doughnuts either of us have ever had), cheese steaks, brisket and locally-brewed beer.
Now if only we had one of these in the Pioneer Valley…
As a birthday gift to myself, I took a weekend trip to Philadelphia with Brian to visit my uncle, aunt and cousin, who I haven’t seen in about a year and a half. My uncle’s house is in the perfect location for all the things we wanted to see and do — everything was within a 30-minute walk. The first full day we were there, we visited the Eastern State Penitentiary. I’d been wanting to see it for a long time, ever since taking a class on prisons and related literature when I was in college. There’s a lot of history behind those walls; it was the first big prison built in the United States, was built slowly over a period of decades (with some sections even built using prisoner labor) and you can clearly see the differences in the ways different cell blocks we’re put together. The place was cold the day we visited, almost a veritable wind tunnel, which further demonstrates the conditions in which the prisoners lived as the structure didn’t have heat while it was operational.
I don’t get to see my niece, Peyton, very often because she and my brother live near Pittsburgh. I got to see her last weekend for the first time since January. She’s gotten so much bigger, smarter and more beautiful. Everything she said and did seemed so unbelievable to me. She’s a very happy little girl, and it rubbed off on all of us.
One night, after I had been snapping photos of her with my digital camera all day, I sat the camera down on the couch and she climbed up and grabbed it. She put the strap around her neck, turned it on and said, “I want to take pictures of you, Aunt Ellie,” and I sat on the ground as she took my picture. It was possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.