I highly recommend a visit to Philly! It reminded me of DC, only 10 times bigger. And I definitely want to go back to Delaware and see more of it!
Welcome to Delaware. Period. Period? I’ve never seen a welcome sign state a declarative sentence. Or NOT have some type of picture. The State bird, a picture, something. Nope. Just Welcome to our State. Period.
The trip started off in Wilmington at the Inn at Montchanin Village. It was once a part of the Winterthur estate, which was the home and estate of the du Pont family. The “Inn” is actually 11 restored buildings with 28 rooms and suites that look like a beautifully serene look into the past.
Breakfast in the morning was on-site at the Krazy Kats Restaurant. As it’s name-sake suggests, it was filled with unusual cat and dog themed decor.
A few other shots in and around the Inn.
There were signs posted all around with inspirational or comical sayings.
There was a mushroom growing on the tree ;-)
After breakfast, we made our way to the Winterthur (pronounced Winter-tour) Museum, Garden and Library.
Winterthur has a very long and revolving history, but in essence was established in the early 1800s and when Henry Francis du Pont inherited the property from his father in the early 1900s, H.F. du Pont knew he wanted his home and grounds to ultimately become a museum, but didn’t wait for his death to open his home to visitors and tours.
We arrived a day before a Plein Art Gala at Winterthur was scheduled, so there were a ton of artists in the gardens painting for the gala.
These mushrooms were located in the children’s garden, the Enchanted Woods, which was not a part of the original garden. But I found them particularly cute because the tour guide said they had sensors that when touched, would expel a mist that the kids would dance around in. Oh to be eight again ;-)
After a quick tram ride through the gardens, we arrived at the museum and house and looked around at some of the collections.
H.F. du Pont collected a variety of items, but was very interested in antiques and furniture.
We then toured a part of the home where more of his collections are on display.
This room was particularly interesting. Mr. du Pont found this Chinese wallpaper and instead of cutting it because it was too tall for the walls, he extended the walls by curving the ceiling.
If I was paying attention and recall this correctly, this curved staircase was acquired from an estate in North Carolina that was being demolished (I can’t find any information on the web to corroborate this, but I’m pretty sure that’s what I heard).
This is the conservatory, which we were not allowed in. The giant eagle is made of pine wood!
The parquet flooring was inspired by the floor in the Louvre.
There were numerous portraits of George Washington displayed in the house but the unique story about this one is that the artist painted Washington from memory, several years after the President had passed. It was said that his wife, Martha Washington, told the artist it was the best depiction of her husband she had ever seen.
After the house, we toured a little of the grounds, the reflecting pool and koi ponds.
There’s Mom waiving!
And there’s Dad on the left hand side watching the artist on the right hand side.
Warning! Koi overload! I just can’t cut my selections down any further. You’ve been warned.
Our original garden guide said that these koi were so used to humans feeding them that they would actually let you pet them. I can now honestly say I’ve pet a koi. Mom got close but didn’t touch one.
After Winterthur, we had some time to kill before dinner so we randomly made our way to New Castle, Delaware, and drove around and went into a couple of shops.
This sign confused us later as we drove past Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia as well. Which I guess could be true because this sign says “near here.”
The next day we made our way into Philly!
We figured a tour bus would be the best way to traverse the city so we hopped on the double-decker bus, which offered a “hop on, hop off” option. We hopped off at the second stop at the Betsy Ross House.
Have to share the tiny, narrow, steep, spiral stairs. Can’t imagine having to go up and down those all day, every day!
We hopped back on the bus and got back off at the very next stop at Independence Hall.
This is THE very room that the Declaration of Independence was signed!
Our tour guide holding up a copy of the Declaration.
I might have heard him incorrectly, but I could have sworn the guide said this was THE very chair George Washington sat in when he presided over the Constitutional Convention. Kind of hard to believe it survived all these years, but I thought that’s what he said. And sure enough, the internets have confirmed my wonderment!
The Liberty Bell was just across the street so we walked over and snapped a few pictures.
After all of that close up history, we realized that stop #3 was actually right across the street from the beginning of the bus tour, so we hopped on the bus back at the beginning and decided to ride it the entire way around, which consisted of I think 26 stops and was supposed to be about a 90 minute ride (but ended up being almost 2 hours with all of the Friday afternoon traffic).
Mom (and Dad’s arm), enjoying the sights of Philadelphia.
City Hall, with a statue of William Penn at the top, watching over the city he founded.
The “Love” sign, you know “City of Brotherly Love?” I thought it was going to be much bigger.
Eastern State Penitentiary
Statue of Joan of Arch (and Dad)
Philadelphia Museum of Art; the steps were, of course, made famous in the movie Rocky.
The Philadelphia “Boo!”
By the way, we had the bus almost completely to ourselves! Our guide was much more entertaining because there were so few of us, he gave us a ton of lesser known facts about the city ;-)
Including the mythology of Mario the Magnificent, the dragon that sits near the Drexel campus. The story goes that if a student had a few too many the night before a test, they could rub the feet of Mario the morning of their test and would pass it.
If I remember correctly, this is the Amtrak Headquarters. The interesting thing about this building is that is has no 90 degree angles, which means that each different direction you look at it, it will look different every time. I just love how the windows reflect the clouds and how it almost blends in with the sky.
Different building, but I like how it reflects the shape of the adjacent building.
Camden, New Jersey was just across the water.
Remember how we saw the sign for Penn’s Landing in New Castle? This is why it’s confusing. There’s a huge archway in Philly announcing his landing…
It wouldn’t be a McDermott Family Vacation without SOME sort of twist. After we got back in the car after the tour bus, Mom realized she didn’t have her (expensive prescription) sunglasses with her anymore. She left them on the bus. By the time she realized it, we were in traffic headed out of Philly and on our way to dinner. So she called the next morning to see if they could mail them to her. They claimed they have never had to mail something back, the tourists always came and picked them up. Yeah right.
So we continued with our plans of heading to Valley Forge to check it out before we headed home. Well, a 45 minute trip soon turned into an hour plus trip because of an accident. We decided not to take the Valley Forge exit and instead headed back into the city to pick up Mom’s sunglasses. Needless to say, she learned her lesson of “make sure you have all of your belongings with you before getting off the bus.”
But all in all, it was a very nice vacation and we have thrown around the idea of going back in the Spring to check out the gardens at Winterthur when the azaleas are blooming…and maybe checking out a beach or two further south in Delaware ;-)