We are in Philadelphia this weekend to shoot an episode. I think this city has to be one of the most underrated cities in the States. It’s historical, hip, romantic and fun. Can’t beat that!
We are spending the day going to some of the best places for a beer in Philly. I would be much happier about this if I didn’t have a mean sore throat and was starting to feel sick. Why can’t we go around tasting the best places for chicken soup?
The Monks café made this wine lover a beer-drinking girl. Tom Peters who owns this famous establishment makes his Bible of beers less intimidating by his passionate yet laid-back demeanor. He opened up a beer aged in Pinot Noir casks that was lovely. I have to watch myself on Belgian beers, as the alcohol content can sometimes be double what it is here. Tom went down as “the best man in history” by my on-camera friends and crew as he treated us all to what many consider to be the best beer in the world, the Trappist Westvleteren. It’s certainly one of the most exclusive beers in the world. Only way to get it is to go to the Monastery in Belgium itself. Once you pay for it they give you a receipt that says NOT FOR RESALE. The monks are adamant that their Brewery remains a not for profit. The Monks only brew what they need to financially support their lives as Monks. I don’t know a lot about beers but I can tell you it was a revelation. After the first sip works its way down your throat you think — I could live on this alone. It’s the most perfect beer I have ever tasted. I didn’t get to eat at the Monks Café but the food looked absolutely amazing. I was told the mussels are a specialty. Actually I did get to sample some incredible french fries with a garlicky mayonnaise dipping sauce. That will sop up the beer.
The South Philly Tap Room, is a laid-back neighborhood establishment. This is definitely a place I would go to meet friends and enjoy a beer but I feel terrible so when the scene is done and we break for dinner I go to the crew van and sleep.
South Street in South Philly is a great street mixture of old nostalgic Philly and its funky art present. We are here for the Magic Gardens, a work of art almost 40 years in the making. Isaiah Zagar is the man behind this enigmatic world of mosaics that engulfs you to the point where you feel like you are almost submerged. And its only three bucks to get in.
Philly has the greatest concentration of murals than any other city! Did you know that? Over 2,800. The mural project was started in 1984 as a way to bridge the huge racial divide polarizing neighborhoods at that time. Now other cities all over the world come to the Mural project to see how they can achieve the same harmony thru the arts.
If you log on to muralfarms.org you can get a list of the public works and create your own tour. Best thing it’s totally free.
I liked Philly a lot last time I was here was before we shot Passport to Europe so now that I am back there are parts and aspects of this city that to me feel very European. I realize with the world-class museum this could be a nice “European weekend” that’s accessible to everybody.
Next up: The Eastern State Penitentiary — definitely not to be missed when in this city. Just fascinating how the compound was designed so that criminals could give penitence to their crimes. I never realized the connection between those two words.
Sean Kelly is the curator who is giving me the tour but his passion and heartfelt love for this place makes him more like a Steward. At the end of every tour you are taken to the top of the guard tower for one of the best views of the city. Usually, in the winter you get a cup of hot chocolate but instead my producer Michael thought Champagne would be more festive. It’s night, all the lights of the city are sparkling and both Sean and I feel a little awkward at the romantic implications. I mean the poor guy actually had to say “would you like a glass of champagne” and make it sound like it’s something he always does. Sean also got a chance to work with the Ghost Adventures Crew so I told him it could have been worse: he could have had to ask Aaron, Nick and Zak if they wanted a glass of bubbly.
Then I got to play a little ice hockey with some of the players on The Phantoms, the minor league team that supports the Flyers. I’ve always regretted not playing a sport in school and if I did this would be it. It’s a lot of fun out there on the ice and I was getting the hang of it pretty quickly. Unfortunately the only women’s ice hockey teams are — where else — in Canada.
My favorite part of learning some moves was the Checking part. I learned how to and how not to show someone who is the boss and I think this could really come in handy as I navigate thru airports and such. I think just holding a hockey stick people would take me a lot more seriously.
At the very end I turned too fast in my skates, was skating backwards, lost my balance and fell right on my tuckus, my head snapped back and I wacked it on the ice … cut.
Next up: Learning how to box like the pros at Tenth Round in Philadelphia. My sparing partner happens to be a woman named Sacred the 6-time National Champ. I am not only nervous but absolutely full of fear and apprehension. Whenever I get really nervous about something I start to snap at my crew (sorry bout that guys) I really just want it to be over.
I love sports but I am not a fighter. Let me correct that — if pushed too far I will tell someone off in an instant but actually hit someone. I don’t think I can do it. My trainers, Liana and Pedro, tell me that I’ll get over that really fast once I feel the fist of another fighter against my head, my very well protected head, that is.
Like I said I am to be sparing with a lovely woman named Sacred. She knows that I know nothing and to go reeeaaaal easy but when the bell is rung I see in her eyes she means business. She has that psychological psyche out the competition thing down. We begin with just light tapping of our boxing gloves but as we both bore of that, we branch out. Meanwhile trainers are yelling what types of punches and moves we should do as well as progress reports. Not surprisingly I am not doing well and all the screaming is actually unnerving. I am a wimp, I don’t care, that’s just what I am. At one point Sacred is faking a punch but at the same time I duck a little to get in a lower jab. My movement helps land her gloved fist squarely on my nose. It’s a light but strong enough touch to startle the heck out of me. As I am dancing around the ring, wishing I was back in Great Hotels eating turn down chocolate, I start thinking how highly choreographed stage combat is. Am I nuts to be in this ring? No doubt that Sacred and I are both trying to improvise this as best as we can and I know she has no intention of doing any damage but then I feel the hit on my nose again. This time I realize how stupid this whole thing is and stop the fight mid -round. So just so you know, I didn’t even go two rounds.