|A virgin margarita|
After four days of very busy, exhausting but very educational and informative days, we were finally allowed to take a breather and recover our energy. The reason for this was because it was the Fourth of July, our proud nation's Independence Day. For a long time I've known how passionate the country can get about the 4th of July, but I have yet to experienced it in Philadelphia, a city that has such a close tie to the birth of America. For me this would be a new experience. I had seen how New York celebrated this day but I was excited to see what Philly looked like during this time.
Our day began in a very relaxed manner. As we were allowed a bit extra time for sleeping, many of us chose to skip breakfast and save our appetites for lunch. Being that Philadelphia possessed such a wide variety of locations to eat, we decided to try something new and have lunch at the restaurant of Iron Chef Jose Garces, Distritos. It centered it's food choices around Mexican cuisine with the occasional twist and varied interpretation. We ordered a variety of small appetizers among which my favorite was "ceviche de camaron". However the most interesting we had was actually a margarita... a virgin one of course, which consisted of all the basics of traditional margarita without any alcohol.
|Our future dormitory|
When we finished our very fulfilling lunch, we decided to head out for a walk around the campus of UPenn. One of the greatest things about today was that, because of the storm the previous night, the weather had immensely changed in comparison to the previous few days. Instead of a very humid and hot day, which had become the normality, there was actually a strong resemblance to Bay Area weather. It was not as humid or hot but rather was very cool, which allowed our walk to be very pleasant and enjoyable. As our previous tour of UPenn had been cancelled, we took the time to go over some of the buildings we would have to know once we had moved into our dorms and started the program. We previewed the dormitory complex where we would most likely be situated for the next three weeks, as well as other buildings such as the dining hall and UPenn's sporting stadium. After previewing the campus, I was excited to be living on if for the next couple weeks.
When we had seen and understood a bit more of the layout the campus, we headed back to the hotel in order to prepare for the festivities of the night, after all, Fourth of July is a big holiday in Philadelphia.
At around 6:00 PM we took a long but pleasant walk to a Fourth of July concert in the park because of the Bay Area-like weather. On our way we were able to see a bit more of the vibrancy of the city. Compared to this morning the city, which due to the overcast had appeared to be very desolate and quiet, began coming to life as the Fourth of July celebrations began to kick into affect. Passing through parts of the city we had yet to explore, I was amazed at the various edifices that made up the landscape. For me, Philadelphia reminded me of a city that infused the atmosphere of San Francisco with the historical importance of Washington D.C.
Upon reaching the park, we began to integrate ourselves into the main highlight of the evening, apart from the late night fireworks, the concert. Featuring artists such as Aloe Blacc, Ed Sheeran, and Nicki Minaj, the event was set to be very lively and one to prequel the grandiosity of the fireworks to come. As we passed through immense crowds of people, I began to take note as to how important this holiday in cities such as Philadelphia, which have such a relation with the countries history. Hundreds upon thousands of people showed up to see the concert, and according to Mr. Hillyer, many were still to come later on. Another thing that really amazed me was the vast amount of food trucks that lined the edges of the park. Each one was unique in what it was selling and they lined the park stretching for many blocks. Once the concert began, the celebratory emotions began to come into effect for many of the spectators. A true sense of patriotism swept across everyone as they began chanting, "U-S-A" and or waved American flags high and proud. The event was very lively and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Contrary to what most individuals fear about concerts such as this, the night did not really present us with any major chaos or inconveniences. Towards the end of the concert we began to make our way out of the concert area and to another park on that overlooked the Schuylkill river in order to find a place to watch the fireworks.
At around 11:00 PM or so, the fireworks began and completely blew me away. I had seen fireworks many times before so I was no stranger to how magnificent they can be. However, what I beheld was something I never could have imagined. The vast amount of fireworks that were sent jutting into the air was incredible. One after the other they illuminated the sky in a vivid array of lights and colors. They were incomparably beautiful and, I feel, truly manifested the importance of the Fourth of July for the city of Philadelphia. The wonderful aspect was that the night had remained relatively cool so therefore there were many who had come out to see the show. After around fifteen minutes of a stellar lights show, the grand finalle came and concluded the celebration for the night. As we made our way back to the hotel amidst thousands of spectators, I could not help still feel in awe a the spectacle I had just beheld. Truly an experience unlike any other.
|Beautiful city of Philadelphia|
|Fourth of July fireworks|