Thursday, August 6, 2009

Friday, July 31st: We The Barbarians

Friday, July 31, 2009

Although today is officially #3 of our vacation, it's our official #1 day of our Disney Adventure! Woo hoo! We will find out later that each day of our adventure has a theme - I just love themes - and today's theme is "We the People." Love it.

We spend a leisurely morning hangin' with aunt and uncle; my uncle is the best storyteller in the world, and we need all morning to hear some of his whoppers. My dear daughter looks at me from time to time with a look that says, "Is he for real?"

For lunch, my uncle decides we can't leave Philly without sampling a delicious Philly cheesesteak sandwich. I got all excited until I realized he said cheese STEAK and not cheese CAKE - big difference. We head to a famous corner on South Street - where two opposing cheesesteak giants battle it out, head to head - across the street from each other. In this corner, we have Pat's - and in this corner, we have Geno's. My uncle, a retired policeman, won't even let us LOOK at Pat's - his support has always been for Geno's because he feels Geno's has always supported the Philly cops. When my uncle isn't looking, I sneak a look at Pat's - just to say that I can. Don't tell my uncle that I snapped a quick photo.

When I swing my head back around to look at Geno's - I'm in for a shock. There's a line - going out into the street - and this is at 1:30 pm in the afternoon....long past time when a line SHOULD be forming for lunch. Do these people not realize I'm hungry? Go home already!

As we're standing in line, a Philly cop shows up to help manage the line. Man, the people in Philly sure do take their cheesesteak seriously. The line moves quickly and before we know it, we're at the window, ordering sandwiches either "wit" or "witout." (onions, that is - but you've gotta' get the pronunciation just right!) Delicious. I liked my first "official" Philly cheesesteak. But I think I'll stick with good ole' Kansas City barbeque.

Aunt and Uncle drop us off at the Hyatt of Penn's Landing around 2:30 pm. Hugs, kisses, promises to see each other in September follow. Good-byes are always hard.

We walk into the lobby and are immediately greeted by our Disney guides for the week - Milca and Kimberly. They give us a brief orientation and direct us to the desk to get our room keys, and tell us to head on up to our room to relax. Before heading up, we learn there are 19 people on the tour for the week - 7 of which are girls around daughter's age - and one 10-year old boy. Ugh. Can you imagine? That poor boy.

We check into Room 915, which has a beautiful view of the Delaware River below us.In our room, we have presents! Yay, Disney! We receive a nice, grey duffel bag, binoculars, luggage tags - and a welcome note from our guides. I love presents.

We have some free time before our Orientation, scheduled for 5:00 pm, so Dear Hubby and daughter head down to the pool. I head to the bed and take a nice nap.

Our Orientation was held in one of the meeting rooms of the hotel. There are some snacks and drinks set out, and we have an ice-breaker to help us all get acquainted with each other. Then, it's time for introductions. We have Anna and her 2 children, Caroline and Ben (the only boy); Tom & Therese with their daughter, Mary Kate; Rolando & Elvia with their daughters, Myka and Pilar; Marianne with her granddaughter, Tatiana; and Dave & Debby with their daughters, Natalie and Katie. It appears to be a great group and I know that Dear Daughter will be best friends with everyone before the week is out.

After Milca did a brief overview of the trip, she passed out lanyards to everyone and we got our first pin of the week- "Adventures by Disney". We also all got a bottle of hand sanitizer, pen, and a storybook that describes the events for each day as well as each day's theme.

At 6:30 pm, we all walked a few blocks to the City Tavern for dinner. The Tavern is located at the corner of 2nd & Walnut in downtown Philadelphia. As we're walking, we're following Kimberly who's holding a sign up high, "Adventures by Disney." Oh my God. We are now officially one of THEM - the dreaded barbarians - who invade cities in large groups and follow their leader who's carrying a sign or an umbrella or some other object. I can't believe the things we'll do for our children. I shake my head in disgust. Oh well. On with the tour.

The City Tavern has quite the history, as we found out.

When the City Tavern first opened its doors in 1773, Philadelphia was the largest, most cosmopolitan city in British North America. The American colonies were about to throw off the yoke of British rule in what became the most important revolution the world had ever seen.

The City Tavern itself is an imposing structure of 3 stories, built to recreate the atmosphere of an authentic London tavern, and situated very near the city’s center. As the storm clouds of revolution gathered on the horizon, City tavern soon became an important meeting place, and center of the economic, social and political life in the city.

Inevitably, when the Revolution came, City Tavern assumed an even more prominent place in the events of the day. In 1774, members of the First Continental Congress used it as a gathering place. Thirteen years later, the Constitutional Convention held its closing banquet there.

Men like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and others whose names have become an integral part of history enjoyed its hospitality. Indeed, John Adams once called it “the most genteel tavern in America.”

When we arrived, on the steps to greet us was Thomas Jefferson himself! It's not every day that one runs into Thomas Jefferson, so of course we had to allow time for photos.

We are first served various types of bread - including the famous Thomas Jefferson Sweet Potato Biscuits. These biscuits were served at the FIRST meeting of the First Continental Congress in 1774. I tasted one and could see why they're still around. I don't like sweet potatoes - at all - but these were pretty darn good!

For dinner, I had the turkey noodle soup, which was outstanding, and followed it up with salmon and mashed potatoes. Everything was very good. For dessert, I had a fruit cobbler that was just like Grandma used to make. Mr. Jefferson spoke with the group during dinner, giving us a brief overview of his life and taking questions from the group. I learned that he is known as the "3-2-1" guy. He was the 3rd President of the United States; the 2nd Vice President of the United States; and the 1st Secretary of State. He was also the U.S. Ambassador to France, and was the 2nd Governor of Virginia. Quite the multi-tasker, huh? We also learned he had "chicken scratch" for handwriting. Which is why he AUTHORED the Declaration of Independence, but he didn't WRITE it. No one would have been able to read it if he had.

One of the ladies on the trip pressed Jefferson about his illegitimate children with the slave, Sally Hemings. I looked over at Hubby and said, "I thought this was a Disney trip?" Like I really want to explain to my 9-year old daughter what "illegitimate" means.

Before Mr. Jefferson left, he handed out another pin to all of us - this time, it was a Goofy pin with "We the People" on it - to match our theme, of course!

We headed back to the hotel after dinner and got quickly ready for bed. Long day. Besides, barbarians need their rest.


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