There are a few places that are probably not great ideas for visiting during ridiculous times of year. For example, you probably don’t want to visit Canada in the middle of a freaky winter storm. You probably don’t want to go to the Caribbean during the middle of monsoon season. And, you might not want to go to a city that’s a center of historical interest and legacy during the middle of government shutdown.

Luckily, I was in one of these cities (Philadephia) for work, not for pleasure, so the shutdown didn’t affect me other than keeping me from getting my picture taken with the Liberty Bell. I still got to climb the Rocky stairs, and I actually got into another museum for free because of a special grant. That museum, as it turned out, was a fantastic place for napping. Seriously. There was a video with a very dramatic live actress and it was so extremely thrilling and exciting that I fell asleep immediately (perils of parties and late night games during the prior weekend).

So, then the next question is – what ELSE was there to do in Philly? Well, of course, all day was devoted to learning more about being an excellent manager and also amusing my friends at the conference with snarky texting commentary. But, there was also very tasty food and beer. These are my recommendations/opinions:

Brauhaus.
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I thought this place was excellent, German-style goodness, with the best selection of German beer I’ve ever seen. Highly recommend the Ayinger Oktoberfest. The food was good – heavy stuff, so definitely couldn’t eat it every day. One of my friends was very amused to see they listed (not lying – this is absolutely true) “Weiner Art” as a menu option. Even accounting for the Germans’ interest/obsession with sausage, this seemed a little …. weird…. And honestly, not all that delicious.

Sampan. Asian fusion tapas. No photos here, and the atmosphere was nothing special. The star of the meal was the brussel sprout dish, which really was phenomenal. I always order brussel sprouts whenever I see them on the menu because you know if a chef is brave enough to prepare and try to sell
such a maligned vegetable, then it’s probably phenomenal. This approach has actually never failed, and I would rank Zaytinia as the best of the best. Anyway, Sampan is good but not great, with the exception of the brussel sprouts and maybe a half-nod to the pork dumplings.

Opa.
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This was such a good salad. The burger was decent and the salad was excellent. I don’t even like tomatoes in this fashion (hate them in big chunks, like them in other ways) and I loved it and couldn’t stop eating the tomatoey part.

The burger, which was feta-stuffed lamb was good but not exceptional. So,
stick with the salad. I was disappointed to be at a Greek restaurant and not order hummus, but I guess I can also make this at home for a lot less than the $15 they were charging.

Reading Terminal Market. This marketplace was right by our hotel so we popped over there for lunch everyday. Nothing was earth-shattering there, but I did eat a Philly cheesesteak here. And a schnitzel sandwich. And a pretty tasty falafel salad.
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The sweets looked awesome everyday (chocolate covered peanut butter marshmallows, chocolate
dipped pretzels, cake, pie,
brownies) but I shamed myself out of them so that I could drink more local or crafty beers (best one of the week – Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale).

Lets see – what else is there to say about Philly? Running there was fun – there was the LOVE sign, lots
of fountains and big giant game pieces, like the iron from Monopoly. Exciting stuff, I know!
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Also, during said run, I was accosted by a homeless guy, which was also pretty cool. As I was jogging across a crosswalk, he got right in my
face and yelled, “You can’t walk here, b%#*#!” Which is kind of ridiculous,
since I was OBVIOUSLY running, not walking. Maybe the speeds are so similar he just couldn’t tell. 😉

So, Philly was fun. And, all these activities don’t even encompass all the conference fun and excitement and learning and friend-making, which were cool in and of themselves. I give the City of Brotherly Love a high grade for just being interesting, even without checking out old Ben Franklin’s grave or any of that other historical legacy nonsense.

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