Posts in Category: Food

One Afternoon in Ghent

On a road trip from Amsterdam to Normandy we found ourselves having been in the car too long and needing a break.  When we checked the GPS we saw that Ghent, Belgium was only 3 miles away.  The only thing we knew about Ghent was the famous altar piece from the movie The Monuments Men.

It was a Saturday afternoon and the old town was hopping.  After driving through 2 pedestrian only streets we found a parking garage with 1 spot.  From our parking spot we walked across the Leie River on a picturesque stone bridge.  From the bridge we could see a castle that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We walked past 3 really cool looking churches and some amazing smelling chocolate shops on our way to see the altar piece.   Besides the art being amazing the thing that changed our lives here is that our kids took an interest.  This was the second on this trip from Amsterdam to Paris where they listened to the audio guides.  The first was the Anne Frank House.  I was not surprised there because we spent months preparing for the Anne Frank House and for Normandy.  But we had zero plans to stop at any churches in Belgium.

After the church we got waffles and ate them in a square near the church.  From here we shopped our way back to the car.  This included stops at Leonidas and  Neuhaus Chocolates It was an amazing diversion on a long drive.  Some of the best destinations are the ones that you never planned.  Like all of our one day or short stops in places more time could be added here but the stop was amazing.

Lakenhalle in Ghent Belgium

Belgian Chocolate from Leonidas

One Day in Philadelphia

As a preface to this post I spent a year of my life in Philadelphia living in North and South Philly and I have been asked many times what people should see in Philly if they have some time there.  Below is an edited version of what I have sent to 3 separate friends and relatives:
Near Center City
Reading Terminal Market
          The old train station in Center City.  Located close to City Hall, China Town and the Masonic Temple.
           Highlights here are all the Pennsylvania Dutch People selling amazing from scratch food.  We bought the most amazing bread pudding here. Bassetts Ice Cream is Philly style Ice Cream, made with eggs and cream very thick and rich.  Cheesesteaks can be bought here and they are good and if you are only in Center City it is a good place to get it but there are many better places to get one.  The Italian Deli here is amazing.
City Hall and Penn Tower
Fun to visit the top of Penn Tower is a cool way to see the city, you need to book a reservation.
(Everything above is about 11-12 Blocks away from everything below)
Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell
     If you go to the Visitors Center which is North from the Bell and Independence Hall right when they open you can book a tour that is scheduled (for the hall) so you don’t have to wait in line.  This is the NPS version of a fast pass and it is amazing.   You can just go see the bell the line moves pretty quick as it is just a bell and once you look at it and take a pic that is kind of all you can do.  If you have never been it is a must.   As a side note just South West of here is Washington SquarePark block and it is the location of the tomb of the unknown soldier from the Revolutionary War.
US Mint
     I think you can book a tour here it is very cool but for one day I might skip it.  But if you are into coins like me a quick lap in the gift shop is very cool
Christ Church
       Like its counterpart in NYC (trinity church) Christchurch is where the founding fathers met.  The steeple was funded by a lottery that Ben Franklin ran.  It is a few blocks east of the mint.  But just south of the mint is the Christ Church Cemetery it is a cool old cemetery where a bunch of signers of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are buried.
Franklin Court
      Home to the first post office in the US.  There are lots of ‘Firsts’ in Philly, Bank, Stock Exchange etc.  Ben Franklin founded the first post office in the US here near his old house which is just north across the street but no longer stands there as there was a fire i think.  Now there is a museum that displays some of his inventions.  It is cool but i would put this lower on my list
Elfreths Alley
       The oldest continuously occupied street in America.  It is an old street a few blocks east of Christ Church.  Its pretty cool but in the end is just a street.  If you like colonial architecture it is a must if not it is a few blocks out of your way.
Betsy Ross House
       With people dressed in colonial attire it is hard to not find this place a little cheesy.  The house is real the furniture is correct to the period and the house is cool.  I would do most other things on this list first but it is near Christ Church and Franklin Court and on the way to Elfreths Ally.  So could be worth a stop.
Now for a list of things not near Center City but could be cool to see none the less
Tony Lukes Cheesesteaks
This is way in South Philly. Worth the Drive could be quite busy
An alternate would be or which are right across the street from each other in the very Italian part of South Philly (think Rocky Running down the street with all the Italian Market Stores).  All 3 are Great Tony Luke’s used to be more philly but now they have a location in Dubai so that may have changed.  I have eaten at all 3 places and you can’t go wrong.
West Philly
In West Philly near the river are a few things that could be worth your time but I would say more for day 2 or 3 which you don’t have but it is still worth mentioning.
Franklin Institute
Rodin Museum
Further west
Boathouse Row
University of Pennsylvania  UPENN has a very cool campus and bookstore
Valley Forge  Cool if you are near it but not much too see.  Same goes for Washington’s Crossing in NJ
Valley Forge is similar outside of the city just a place where people camped on winter
Day Trips Beyond the City
If you have more time I would recommend Intercouse, PA (yes that is the name) this is Amish Country.  Great food and fun to see.  Beyond here are Hershey, PA.  Not worth a stop unless you are right there.
Gettysburg is a few hours west of Philly well worth it if you are close.