Eastern Vacation Journal, July 24 - July 26 July 26, 2007

In Ithaca, we arrived after a 10 hour long haul across the wilds of rural Maine and upstate New York to find probably the nicest bed and breakfast I’ve ever stayed in. I’m glad we took the scenic route – it was a a slow, winding drive, but the hundreds of miles of postcard-like farmyard were worth it. I kept wanting to stop the car and set up some shots, but there was always something in the way of the landscape – a car, a fence, a telephone wire – it wasn’t quite worth (a) pulling off into someone’s driveway and (b) hopping a fence – maybe if we had a few less than 10 hours to drive that day. In any case, if you ever find yourself in Ithaca, or the finger lakes in general – stay at the William Henry Miller Inn.

img The wonder that was lime-infused watermelon.

The bed was incredibly comfortable, the innkeepers friendly and helpful, and the food fantastic. At 8pm they set out the dessert bar – all from-scratch made items, fantastic. #1 best feature of the room, though – huge whirlpool tub for 2. Breakfast was great too, lime-infused watermelon followed by our choice of a pecan crusted french toast or a omelette roulade – both were great. On top of that the inkeepers were totally helpful – they had directions printed out to all the local things worth seeing and would make recommendations based on our preferences. We ended up going to the impressive Ithaca Falls, a short walk from the inn, and then onto the Cornell Campus and their art museum. It was a decent museum, running on a pretty limited basis because it was the summer semester, but the view from the 5th floor was amazing – the whole city of Ithaca and Cahuga Lake.

img Ithaca Falls, loving the Tv+Tripod, am right guys?

img Is it possible for us to be mature adults? Probably not. Would I want it any other way? Probably not.

We liked Ithaca – it’s probably the college-towniest college town I’ve ever been to. Dinner was great, too, a little tapas-style place, “Just a Taste”. They had a cool thing I’ve never seen before – flights of wine. You’d buy 5 3oz pours all grouped by theme – “Spanish Reds” or “Sparkling” or “Big Reds”, etc. It was neat to be able to compare and contrast similar glasses next to each other. Oh, and the food was fantastic.

img Philly not taking itself too seriously – the founding fathers, ipod style.

After leaving Ithaca, we headed to Philadelphia. I got a deal at the Sofitel, the nicest straight-up hotel I’ve ever stayed at. The design was clean and modern and awesome, with a bed so comfortable we never wanted to get out. Room service served up a mean creme brulee, as well. Our view was nothing special – overlooking a lot of grotty rooftops – but for what we paid vs what we got, no complaints from me. Philly’s an interesting city. It’s a true metro, meaning downtown driving was a bad idea and not a lot of fun. We walked a lot, both the evening we arrived and the next morning. It’s a lot less interesting and inspiring to see things like the liberty bell and the original congress building than I thought it would be. Architecturally, the city’s a bit of an enigma. It has some incredible structures downtown (especially City Hall, dominating Penn Square just a few blocks from our hotel) but they’re tarnished by everything being dirty and run-down looking. You walk through an otherwise spectacular arch and there’s a mesh above you just inexplicably filled with gum wrappers, cigarette butts, and other crud.

img A monster cheesesteak.

The real bright spot was the Reading Terminal Market – full of incredible food and people who care about it. I got an ‘authentic’ cheesesteak from one of the stalls recommended on Chowhound by a local, and Amber got a really good selection of antipasto from a Salumeria. My sandwich was pretty large, and by far the best of it’s kind I’ve ever had. (As you’d expect/hope, it being the home of it’s genre, of course.) The best word for it (and what set it apart from others I’ve tried) was ‘balanced’. There was a far smaller amount of meat and cheese than I expected, but it was a perfect amount when set against the fresh-that-morning italian roll.

In other news, I’m going to be fasting for 20 days once I get home. This trip has not been a step forward on my path towards fitness, that’s for sure.

Updates will probably slow down or stop from here on out – we’re staying with friends and family, much less “vacationing” in the tourism sense. We’ve both concluded that we got full value of the “vacation” already, and everything from here on out is just a bonus.

Note: thanks to the awesome verizon 3G card for allowing this post to be published doing 60MPH on the I95 south of Philly.