Monday, March 16, 2015

When the family visits...

...we go places!

My mom loves to travel and she loves to do everything when she's on a vacation. While some people love to travel to relax and unwind, she's the complete opposite. Lauren jokes (although completely true), that when we're on a trip, my mom is always the first one awake and the first person ready to leave in the morning, which is completely different to normal daily life. So of course one of the first things my mom did when my family arrived in Philadelphia was pull out dozens of brochures that she had collected in an attempt to plan out the ensuing week's trip. She likes to fit in as much as possible, kind of like getting the most bang for your buck, I suppose.
A month ago, we had decided that the Sunday they fly in, we would all go to the Philadelphia Flower Show in the afternoon, since that's the last day of the exhibit. Unfortunately though, Marissa got sick on the plane and Nate didn't adjust well to the time change, so my dad, mom, Lauren, and I ended up being the only ones able to go to the show. Frank wasn't able to come on this trip because he was still in school, but hopefully he'll be able to visit soon! The Convention Center was packed and it was hard to make our way through the crowds at many of the Disney-themed displays. There are some serious flower enthusiasts out there, and since none of us have that great of a passion for intricate floral arrangements, we mainly stuck to the less popular smaller displays. I actually enjoyed admiring the competitions by flower species more than the main attractions. The brightly colored tulips were my absolute favorites, followed by the daffodils. The succulents, cacti, and other houseplants were also fun to look at, and I was so tempted to purchase several for our apartment. But, I didn't want to have to deal with carrying them back on the subway and I've never been successful at keeping succulents/cacti alive.
My grandma, aunt, and Abby joined the party on Wednesday morning. Later that day everyone but Lauren (she was in class) visited Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. This was my third time seeing both sites since May. Our tour guide at Independence Hall was my favorite by far, and they finally reopened the upper floor of the building to the public. The best part of the day though was watching Abby being so enthralled by the Liberty Bell. What other five year old would sit and stare at the Liberty Bell for a good ten minutes, while continuously asking detailed questions about the bell? Only Abby. It's hilarious how much she loves that bell. She has a fantastic memory and remembered everything anyone told her about it. She picked out two different Liberty Bell key chains from the gift shop and carried them around in her pocket. Every so often she'd pull them out, examine them, and recite the differences and similarities between the two key chains and the real Liberty Bell. That fascinated me.
My parents and grandma had a dinner reception to attend Wednesday evening, and my aunt stayed back at the hotel while Abby slept, so it was just my siblings, Lauren, and me for dinner that night. We decided to have a little fun of our own and go out to dinner by ourselves. We collectively decided to try Pattaya Grill since we all like Thai food. I was pleasantly surprised with all of their vegetarian offerings, and they had plenty of meat dishes for Nate and Marissa as well. Lauren and I shared the vegetable dumplings and the vegetable spring rolls for starters, and the tofu pad Thai and veggie drunken noodles for entrees. Both appetizers were delicious, especially the garlic sauce that came with the dumplings. We had never had drunken noodles before, so I was looking forward to trying something new. I liked how the noodles reminded me of my beloved chow fun, but the sauce wasn't my favorite. It was a little too spicy and tasted like enchilada sauce. The pad Thai was really good though, although I wish the tofu was firmer. We stopped at Capogiro for dessert since Lauren and I had been wanting to try the sorbets for awhile. I got a scoop of the orange sorbet, and although it was pretty expensive for a single scoop, it tasted amazing!

On Thursday we all went to the infamous Reading Terminal Market. I'm pretty sure this was the highlight of everyone's trip. Of course we all had to have a real Philly pretzel, and it was fun watching them stretch and twist the dough into pretzel shapes. My family loved picking up donuts and breads from the Amish bakeries. My aunt even introduced us all to Irish potatoes! A trip to Reading Terminal wouldn't be complete for me without picking up a vegan dessert from Flying Monkey Bakery; I devoured the lemon poppy seed whoopie! My siblings enjoyed Reading Terminal so much that we went again on Saturday morning before their flight back to California.
One of the things Marissa has never done, despite visiting the City of Brotherly Love several times before, was see the Rocky steps. Throughout the week Marissa and I were playfully arguing who the true Rocky is, so of course we had to run the steps and determine once and for all who the title belongs to. Lauren, Marissa, and I raced up the steps twice while my dad filmed us. Lauren crushed Marissa and me the first go around, but I soon caught on to her trick. The second race was much closer, although Lauren still finished first. I passed up Marissa by using Lauren's strategy of skipping every other step. 
Friday was spent at the Adventure Aquarium, Su Xing House, and taking a ghost tour.

It was sad to say goodbye to everyone since I won't be able to see them till July, but I'm glad that they were able to come out and visit for a week. And I'm even happier that they found so many things they like to do in Philadelphia. I think they had a fun visit to the city, and they all said they're eager to come back soon!