We are up early and I mean early because we decided to take on Philadelphia the next day, and instead of taking public transport because all the fares I could find were ridiculous, we hired a car.
Again the words ‘or similar’ foiled us. All charged up and excited its quarter to eight in the morning we arrive at the Avis center just a five-minute walk from our hotel.
Shock number one. We finish up with some crappy Nissan the desk lady was using as her personal car.
She lied about the car being full of petrol, it was not.
We asked for a GPS and all it was was a glorified phone. She switched it on, the first didn’t work but the second displayed a screen and that was enough for her to say it was set up and working.
You guessed it, another barefaced lie.
We put it in the car, switched it on, and it was in French. She hadn’t checked the language of the last user.
We took it back and she had the audacity to call us ‘stupid’, blaming us for breaking it, and then she couldn’t fix it so she gave us another one which I’m sure she checked for English.
The question, if she could set these things up, why couldn’t she instantly fix it?
Sorry, the woman was arrogant and very nasty, and not a good advertisement for Avis or the U.S.A as a place to visit. I shall never use Avis in America again if she’s the best they can put at the front desk.
Still seething from that encounter it was a good thing I wasn’t driving.
I remember when I was writing Echoes From The Past I had a sequence of events starting in Lower Manhattan and ending up in Philadelphia. In that narrative, I was not sure if the main character used the Lincoln tunnel, which, on this occasion, we did.
As it turned out the drive was reasonably accurate in that we also followed the i95 turnpike and a number of tolls along the way. Unfortunately, our mode of transport was not quite as luxurious as my characters.
Once in Philadelphia, we managed to find the Swann Memorial Fountain at Logan Square…
and parked the car outside the Free Library.
From there we walked to the city center, what some might call City Hall, a rather large and impressive stone structure, and then ended up at stop number six of the big bus tour.
Big bus tour
There are 27 stops of which we got on at 6 and got off at 1, managed by a miracle of fate to get back on at 1 and got off at 8 where our car was parked. By then we were frozen solid.
There’s always an intervening adventure with our outings and the quest was to find the best place to have a Philly Cheese Steak.
Between stops 1 and 6 when we were not on the bus, we hailed a cab, deciding not to wander around the city looking for a Philly Cheese Steak place ourselves.
We had a side mission to the side mission and got the cab driver to take us back to the car so we could lengthen the parking time. This done, he took us to what he believed was the best Philly Cheese Steak place.
It was a long and convoluted ride that showed us the real Philadelphia, where the citizens live, not the showpiece tourist attractions.
It was somewhere in little Italy. A place called Geno’s steaks, a new and shiny restaurant where there was only seating outside. Mid-afternoon, it was cold.
But were they the best Philly Cheese Steaks. I’m not an expert so I don’t really know. What I do know is the cheesy steak in a roll was absolutely delicious. Freshly cooked in front of you, the steak slices were still dripping juices as they were put on the roll with a layer of cheese and onions which you have to ask for.
And at ten dollars each, it turned out to be less than the cab fare to get there.
Of course being dropped in Little Italy in America on the 20th Anniversary of the Sopranos, conjured up too many nightmares to be walking the streets in the fading afternoon lights.
Two boys on bikes who looked like thugs in hoodies scared us into a cab and back to the bus stop to do the last eight stops before going home.
All in all, a very interesting if not at times scary adventure.