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The University of Pennsylvania, created in the mid-1700s by Benjamin Franklin, is a gorgeous tree-lined campus. We took the 1.5 hour prospective student tour, ascertained all the pertinent information needed for undergraduate studies and enjoyed seeing all the lovely buildings/artwork. It’s definitely worth a walk around the campus even if you’re not college shopping. There’s a self-guided walking tour.

Philadelphia Ben Franklin Statue at Penn
College Hall, built in 1872 and Ben Franklin Statue. The building was the inspiration of Penn alumnus Charles Addams for the Addams Family mansion.

Philadelphia Button Statue
Big White Button. The crack in the button represents the Schuylkill River which runs through Philadelphia. When you’re at the button, you’re in the middle of College Green and according to our tour guide, classmates use the Button as a meet-up point ~  “meet me at the button” is said a lot.

Philadelphia Hands Gate
Hands Gate ~ notice the additional one?

Philadelphia Penn Building
Another beautiful campus building

IMG_6917
Colorful LOVE

Philadelphia Penn Door Arch
Archway at UPenn

While in Philadelphia, I highly recommend two restaurants. But, be forewarned, they are absolutely delicious, but Vegan:

Verge is an innovative, delicious tapas-style restaurant located at 1221 Locust Street in City Center. It’s only open for dinner and is very popular so reservations are highly recommended. We went early and snagged a table next to the kitchen. Not ideal but it was actually fun to watch all the staff. I was very tempted to have dessert but my two tapas selections were too filling. For two of us, we had two selections each and a glass of wine. In addition to the yummy menu selections, service was outstanding! Our bill (without tip) came to $81.00.

Vedge Restaurant, Philadelphia
Spicy Tofu

Vedge Restaurant in Philadelphia
Golden Beets ~ my favorite plate of the evening!

Vedge Restaurant, Philadelphia
Our view from our table. Be sure to make reservations for a better location!

Vegetate is located near UPenn and Drexel at 3210 Chestnut and is a great place to have a quick and inexpensive lunch. I recommend the Vegatacos, a smoothie and a sweet potato cupcake ~ Delish!

Philadelphia Vegetate

We stayed at the Inn at Penn (Hilton) which is adjacent to the University of Penn. It was an ideal location for college tours. Since it was only $2.50, we hopped on Bus 21 when we went into City Center. We rode the bus four times and each time I was very impressed with the friendly and extremely helpful bus drivers. On every trip, I witnessed the drivers going out of their way to help elderly passengers with walkers or wheelchairs. The drivers made sure those passengers were comfortable and safe. It was heartwarming to see the true meaning of Brotherly Love.

As we drove through the hot summer haze heading into Philadelphia, with smoke stacks spewing and litter on the roads, we realized we’ve been spoiled with the clean streets of Washington DC. We were in town to tour three colleges so our time for visiting Philly’s famous landmarks was limited. First stop: Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

The iconic Liberty Bell, the symbol of Freedom, first rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House now called Independence Hall. In the 19th century, the inscription on the bell became a rallying cry for abolitionists in the hopes of ending slavery.

Philadelphia Liberty II
Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof,” the inscription on the Liberty Bell

Philadelphia Liberty Bell III

Philadelphia Liberty Bell Dalai Lama
Global Symbol of Liberty

Liberty Bell and Logan

The Liberty Bell is located at Liberty Bell Center (6th & Market Streets). The queue starts at the doors on the north end of the building. Entrance is free and we waited in line for about 10 minutes. Security will check your bags before you enter. Food & drinks (except water) are prohibited. Be sure to give yourself enough time to read the displays and watch the short video ~ about 20 minutes. For more information, go to their website here.

After viewing the Liberty Bell, we strolled through Signer’s Park. A nice place to take a break for a moment.

Philadelphia The Signer
The Signer

Philadelphia Signers Garden
Signer’s Park Bench

Alexandria, VA: Hermione Encore

Touring the Hermione was so much fun and, lucky me, a friend shared her extra ticket with so I went twice!

The ship is amazing. I’m in awe of the hand craftsmanship and the 18 years it took to build it. While standing on the deck, I imagined what it must have been like being in the middle of the Atlantic ~ how exciting!

Hermione side view
The Historic Hermione and airplane in flight overhead

Hermione French Flag and Continental flag
French Flag and Colonial Flag.

Hermione Rigging and ropes
There are 15 miles of rope and the height of the ship is 56.5 meters (185ft)

Hermione
No idea what this is or why there’s a measurement on it but thought it looked cool

Hermione canon
The original Hermione was a fighting ship and there are 34 canons

Hermione Logan
There was a nice breeze on board

Hermione Leslie and Joe
Lots of happy smiles

My favorite part of the tour was speaking with the volunteers and crew members about their maiden voyage on such a historic ship. Wish I could actually speak French because I’m sure a lot was lost in translation but thankfully the volunteers spoke enough English to tell their stories.

Hermione crew member with man bun
Cute Frenchmen

Hermione Logan VII
Another cute Frenchmen…

Hermone prisoner garb
Pirate looking volunteer

Hermione crew member
Frenchwoman as part of the crew

Other than the volunteers and crew members, local reenactors joined the ship while it was in port:
Hermione Hat
Love the Hermione Hat

Hermione Grumpy the Bear with two ladies
Colonial women greeting the ship

Hermione looking out to the shore
On the Lookout for trouble

Another fun aspect of touring the Hermione is I got a chance to meet a fellow blogger, Robin and his wife. His photos of the Hermione are fabulous ~ check them out at Photographybykent.

The Hermione has been making her way up the Eastern Seaboard and has stopped in Annapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia and is currently in New York City until July 4, 2015. Click here for a fantastic NY Times article about their arrival in NYC and more historical facts about Lafayette.

Next three stops are: Greenport, NY, Newport, RI and Boston. If you get a chance, I highly recommend touring the ship (or at least seeing it up close). You won’t be disappointed. See full itinerary here.

It was thrilling to see the French Tall Ship ‘Hermione’ pass through the opened Wilson Bridge at midnight. Adding to the fun were all the people out with us who were equally impressed by, not only the Hermione but the mechanical marvel of the Wilson Bridge. As a side note, living in the Washington DC area makes me empathetic for anyone “stuck” on the bridge. Even at midnight, I could see the line of cars and trucks.

The Hermione Wilson Bridge

Night photography is a challenge for me ~ mostly because I don’t do much of it. My attempt to photograph the Hermione at midnight convinced me to practice, practice, practice. With that in mind, I’ll be up late on Friday when Hermione leaves Old Town en route to Annapolis attempting to get better shots.

Here are my attempts but for some really gorgeous photos from last night, check out Photographybykent:

The Hermione and Capitol II
If you look closely, the US Capitol can be seen on the bottom left

PS Hermione

The Hermione in the Potomac
Earlier in the day, the Hermione was anchored near Mount Vernon Estates where a Lafayette event was happening.

The Hermione (pronounced ‘err-me-own’) is an exact replica of the 18th century tall ship which carried the Marquis de Lafayette to the USA in 1780 and it’ll be visiting our corner of the world this week.

In March 1780, Lafayette boarded the Hermione in Port des Barques, France and sailed across the Atlantic to Boston. The ship made it’s way down the East Coast. When Lafayette arrived in the United States, he brought news of full French military aid to George Washington which secured victory against the British. Hermione’s voyage culminated with the American-French triumph at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, ending the Revolutionary War.

Building the Hermione took 18 years and it celebrates Lafayette ~ the Hero of Two Worlds. His contribution to the success of the American Revolution is nothing short of amazing. As a wealthy French aristocrat, he easily could have lived the life of leisure but instead he traveled to the colonies and volunteered to fight against the British. He also persuaded several other French officers to join him. He lived a fascinating life and, as an American, I’m thankful he was passionate about the plight of the colonies.

The ship is also a tribute to the craftsmanship of the Poitou-Charentes region in Western France. The ship was re-created by hand using traditional tools and techniques. The 1500 irons, tackles and pins used in the rigging were made using 18th century forging methods. There are some “modern” items on the ship due to safety rules and sanitary requirements.

It was twenty years ago when a small group decided to live by Lafayette’s family motto: Cur Non which means ‘Why Not?‘. The Association Hermione-La Fayette’s mission statement, as shown on their website, is as follows:

  • To evoke the spirit of “why not?” and demonstrate that given determination, anything is achievable.
  • To symbolize and rekindle through the Hermione the intimate ties between France and the United States, and the spirit of liberty that sustains them.
  • To celebrate the value of impeccable craftsmanship, the firm foundation of the authentic reconstruction of the Hermione.
  • Through this, to create a lasting educational legacy which will be accessible to generations of young
    Americans to come.
  • To demonstrate the inestimable value of history, to the present and the future, and to show that it can be a living force in increasing our understanding of the world.
  • To bring to life the memory of Marquis de Lafayette who embodied this spirit.

The first stop for the Hermione in North America is Yorktown, Virginia. Additional ports of call include: Mount Vernon and Alexandria, Virginia;, Annapolis and Baltimore, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; New York City and Greenport, New York; Newport, Rhode Island; Boston, Massachusetts; Castine, Maine and Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

The Hermione will be docked at the Alexandria City Harbor, Virginia on June 10,11 and 12. Tickets to tour the Hermione are sold out but a limited number of tickets will be distributed at 8:30 a.m. and 12 noon each day at the dock. I’m thrilled I jumped at the chance to obtain tickets when I first heard about the visit. Hoping photos of the inside of the ship will be permitted. More to come after my visit…

An Artist at work in Old Town, Alexandria

Washington DC: Cherry Blossom 5K

The beautiful Cherry Blossoms were in full bloom and the timing coincided perfectly with the Cherry Blossom 10 miler/5K. After four years of attempting to get into the run through their lottery system, I finally got the opportunity to run the 5K yesterday. It was sunny, about 65 degrees and zero humidity ~ ideal conditions for a run through the best parts of the city. Throughout the run, I reflected how lucky I am to live so close to this beautiful and vibrant city.

Cherry Blossom 5K
Running the Cherry Blossom 5K

Wedding with the cherry blossoms
Great spot for wedding photos

Washington monument the crowds and cherry blossoms
Lots & lots of visitorsJefferson Monument blue skies

Jefferson MemorialCHerry Blossoms with the Washington Monument
Cherry Blossoms covering the view to the Washington MonumentJefferson Monument and cherry blossoms

Jefferson Monument Cherry Blossoms
Can’t get enough of the Jefferson Memorial ~ so beautiful

Memorial Bridge
Scarlet Tulips along the Memorial Bridge

Tulips
…more vibrant tulips and the Kennedy Center across the Potomac River

Washington Monument
Washington Monument and the Cherry Blossoms

Washington Monument
Washington Monument

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