Travel surprises (Fifty firsts, #13-16)

Not long after I decided to go fifty new places while I was in my fifties, I was given the opportunity to go to a conference in Philadelphia (#13). I’d never been there so, of course, I went. I didn’t have a lot of free time, but there were a couple of short tours that were offered as part of the program. The activity I remember the best was the Duck Tour. The “duck” was a land and sea cruiser that gave us a tour of Old City Philadelphia and then drove right into the Delaware River for a boat ride showcasing views of the city from the water. It was a fun tour.

I later returned to the city with three of my kids. We rode the subway (#14), visited the historic sites, including the Liberty Bell (#15), and ate Philly Cheesesteaks from the restaurant where they originated (#16), Pat’s King of Steaks. Did you know that the original sandwiches didn’t have cheese?

Pat, who had a hotdog stand, wanted a change. He took his own few steps beyond normal, cooked some chopped up beef, added onions, and began selling his wildly popular new sandwich. Cheese was added later!

The conference I was attending offered reduced room rates at several hotels near the convention center. I don’t remember where I ended up staying. It was much nicer than the hotels I was used to but I certainly wasn’t going to complain about that, even after I found out that the resort charged an eighteen dollar a day resort fee (which is cheap compared to some resort fees today!). This was in addition to the nightly outrageous charge. It covered the use of the fitness center, which I wasn’t going to go near because there was no pool or hot tub. It covered the newspaper each morning, which I only received one morning out of four. It also covered the in-room coffee and I did benefit from that. I’d made one four-cup pot of coffee and drank half of it. I figured that pot of coffee cost almost seventy-two dollars! At that price, I should have had a right to complain about the maid throwing away what was left in the pot. She poured gold down the sink!

This particular resort was considered by some, at least by it’s public relations staff, to be heavenly. They had heavenly beds with five heavenly pillows, billowy comforters, and soft egyptian cotton sheets. I’ll admit, it was a great bed to snuggle in. I do know that the mattress was not firm enough because my back hurt when I crawled out of bed the first morning to make my way to the heavenly shower, which had two shower heads and plenty of hot water. It was a nice shower but, when I got out, I realized that the shower curtain was not so heavenly. There was a puddle of water on the floor! Heavenly shampoo, heavenly conditioner, heavenly hydrating lotion, and even heavenly soap were available for my earthly use.

The collection of celestial products should have been a warning, but I was still shocked when the cowards slid the final bill under my door in the wee hours of the morning. The total was out of this world! It was nice, though, to stay in a place that was a few steps above normal for me.

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