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December 2nd, 2016
Winter has commenced in Philadelphia, with proof at City Hall. Ice-skating is back. (And will remain till February 26, 2017.)
The Rothman Institute Ice Rink has re-opened its door for the winter season and, as is the case each year, sits right in front of City Hall.
Don’t know how to skate? No worries! There are lessons for the inexperienced. These lessons only take 30 minutes, and are offered to both adults and children.
For those who want to be on the ice, but don’t really feel like skating, renting out sled-skating equipment is an option. Never heard of sled-skating? The picture below will give you an idea.
Perfect if you also don’t feel like standing.
If you end up with friends at the Rothman Institute Ice Rink and have no desire to do any of these activities, you can always eat your loneliness away at the Rothman Cabin. Their menu includes greasy comfort foods like poutine and [grass-fed sirloin] cheesesteak, as well as more health-conscious choices like winter beet and wheat berry salad and vegetable chili. But, no matter what, you have to get funnel cake fries. Because you have to.
At City Hall’s most exciting winter attraction, there’s something for everybody.
2016-2017 season hours:
Monday-Thursday: Noon – 9 pm
Friday: Noon – 11 pm
Saturday: 11 am – 11 pm
Sunday: 11 am – 8 pm
HOLIDAY AND SPECIAL HOURS
NOTE: The rink will close at 6 pm on December 14
For more information: http://www.ccdparks.org/dilworth-park/rothmanicerink
November 22nd, 2016
Recently, when visiting Milan, I had the opportunity to visit Duomo di Milano, or the Milan Cathedral. The largest church in Italy, and the fifth largest church in the world, and yet there is detail upon detail on this huge structure(s). Perhaps not the most coherent in its style, but definitely beautiful, and definitely awe-inspiring.
I think Mark Twain’s description perhaps sums up its majesty most perfectly:
“What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful! A very world of solid weight, and yet it seems …a delusion of frostwork that might vanish with a breath!… The central one of its five great doors is bordered with a bas-relief of birds and fruits and beasts and insects, which have been so ingeniously carved out of the marble that they seem like living creatures– and the figures are so numerous and the design so complex, that one might study it a week without exhausting its interest…everywhere that a niche or a perch can be found about the enormous building, from summit to base, there is a marble statue, and every statue is a study in itself…Away above, on the lofty roof, rank on rank of carved and fretted spires spring high in the air, and through their rich tracery one sees the sky beyond. … (On) the roof…springing from its broad marble flagstones, were the long files of spires, looking very tall close at hand, but diminishing in the distance…We could see, now, that the statue on the top of each was the size of a large man, though they all looked like dolls from the street… They say that the Cathedral of Milan is second only to St. Peter’s at Rome. I cannot understand how it can be second to anything made by human hands.”
That last line, though.
October 29th, 2016
The Bahá’í House of Worship, outside of Chicago in Wilmette, Illinois, is the oldest surviving Bahá’í House of Worship in the world, and the only one in the United States. Bahá’ís from all over the world funded this construction of the temple, which had its ground-breaking ceremony in 1912. The construction of the temple took much longer than expected and was finally dedicated in 1953.
So who are the Bahá’ís and why is this temple worth making a part of the agenda on your next trip to Chicago?
The Bahá’í Faith is a religion that stresses the unity of God and humankind, and calls its adherents to prayer, meditation, and service. It was founded in the 19th century in present-day Iran by Bahá’u’lláh, a man who is believed to be a messenger from God and the fulfillment of various prophecies from the world’s major religions. In some parts of the world, Bahá’ís have been persecuted—and yet, this religious community continues to grow. Both celebrities Justin Baldoni and Rainn Wilson are adherents, and have spoken a bit about their faith. In this video, Baldoni shares about his spirituality and community.
Here Rainn Wilson, or Dwight from the Office, explains his own spiritual journey, from his ecumenical childhood experiences to learning balancing and even integrating his profession and faith.
And why should you visit the temple in Illinois?
The temple is surrounded by gardens and fountains, and its architecture includes domes, pillars, intricate details, and is supposedly deeply tied to the mystical science of numerology.
I mean, just look at it:
Did I mention it was on Lake Michigan?
Maybe bike along Lake Michigan and make a stop at the temple? They have bike racks.
October 28th, 2016
During our visit to Yellowstone National park we stayed at a campsite called Under Canvas. What was interesting about it was that our house was a teepee. There weren’t any real beds so we slept on cots. Another cool thing was that the campsite was only few miles away from the National Park. The campsite was a glamorous camping experience, otherwise known as glamping. It was as comfortable as camping can get , it was still in the outdoors –and s unfortunately it was freezing! Also at night it always rained extremely hard. In the morning when we walked outside we saw that the rain froze, and this was in July!
Yellowstone itself is loaded with wildlife but sadly the best time to see animals is early in the morning or late at night. Our first day in the park we didn’t find much wildlife but on our second day we woke up at five in the morning and and went straight for the park so we saw more animals than ever. On Thursday morning as we were driving in the park we hit a huge traffic jam. We sat there wondering what was causing the traffic. Once we got closer we realized it was a herd of bison crossing the road. At first it was kinda scary because they are enormous animals. Their head itself weighs 200 pounds! But then I realized that this was something I would never see in a normal day and started to appreciate it. They were just chilling, without a care in the world. It was extraordinary!
One of the days in the park we went to see all the geysers. We were lucky enough to see two geysers in action – the most famous, of course is old faithful which goes off every two hours or so. Many people are not aware that there are several other cool geysers which also predictably go off at different intervals. The geysers were incredibly cool and I was very glad to be able to see it. I highly recommend renting bikes around the geysers and riding down beside the boardwalk to view each geyser. The ride from geyser to geyser is pretty short so we went on another small ride in the forest.
Our next day we went horseback riding in the Lamar Valley, it was fun and we were able to see the beauty of the park from that high. The great part of the Lamar valley is that there are probably more bison than people in the Lamar Valley. We saw hundreds on our ride in the car and on the horse. One of our tour guides told us that only 5% of people that enter there get off the main roads .It’s really sad, because most of Yellowstone’s beauty is off the main road. So we decided to take a hike to a wonderful waterfall.
After a couple of days in Yellowstone we drove down to Grand Teton Nation Park. The most spectacular part of Teton Park, besides the gorgeous mountains, is Jenny Lake. We decided to kayak on the lake. It was so relaxing and we felt like we were on the cover of a postcard.
We kayaked to a small beach and went fishing. Later that night we stayed in Jenny Lake Lodge which gave us bikes to ride around the lake. Then the next day we went horseback riding in Teton and it was gorgeous. We got to see the spectacular views that we could not have seen if we were hiking. After an exhausting week we relaxed in Jackson village for the weekend.
On Sunday we went tubing down a natural river that went around our hotel. It was cold but fun. It’s ten minutes from Jackson in Teton Village. In the winter it is a ski village and in the summer it has a huge mountain bike track, trampoline bungee jumping, ropes course and rock climbing.
Our trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton was filled with ups and downs, mostly ups and was an incredible experience that I will never forget. I really recommend going with your family; you will make memories that will last a lifetime.
October 24th, 2016
This year, for me, it felt like summer came and went. It was a busier summer than usual, but somehow I barely saw the sun. I hardly went outside. In between family vacation, traveling for work, and work in general, I had little time to enjoy a Philadelphia summer.
So for next summer, I want to be prepared. I need to do some goal-setting.
Next summer I will…
Enjoy the Wissahickon. One of my favorite parts about Philadelphia is the Wissahickon. I used to live nearby, in Northwest Philadelphia, and can say I didn’t taken much advantage of it then. I’d drive past it on Lincoln Drive focused on the winding road and praying for all of heaven’s protection. I had been on a few walks and hikes around the Wissihickon creek, but never really explored it. Since moving, I’ve gone back a bit to go hiking, jogging, and even swimming.
The Wissahickon Creek runs 23 miles from Montgomery county into Northwest Philadelphia, ultimately emptying into the Schuylkill River. The Philadelphia part of the Wissahickon includes a section of Fairmount Park. The Wissahickon Gorge is probably the number one reason why people adore this place.
Next summer: more hikes, more swimming, and more full days outdoor, with sunscreen and friends, enjoying the Wissahickon.
Go to Spruce Street Harbor Park! Lay around in the hammocks, eat some tacos, play some Bocce ball or life-size chest, enjoy the multi-colored LED lights, etc. I’ve done this all, and I should have done it all summer-long. I went once in September, towards the end of the park’s season, and immediately I hated myself. How did I forget about this place? I could have come here on an early Saturday morning, laid out in a hammock, ate a breakfast burrito, enjoyed a book, while watching the boats on the water. I could have. I should have. And I will. Next year. I promise.
Next summer: more hammock-time, strolls through the park, and tacos. A lot more tacos.
Don’t forget about South Street. I always do. I’ve never lived near that part of the city, though I love so much in it. I don’t forget about South Street as much as I subconsciously-try to buy into a different narrative of the street (“it’s so far and not that special”) in order to protect myself from constantly traveling that way. But, the truth is, it’s a lot of fun. And I really don’t live that far from it. 30 minutes on public transportation isn’t that bad, at all. Anyway, Philly Aids Thrift has the friendliest, most helpful folks working there, and honestly, it’s my favorite thrift store in Philly. Wooden Shoe Books is one of my favorite spots in Philly, as well. Wooden Shoe is an all-volunteer, collectively-run bookstore with really brilliant books on activism, politics, identity, etc., and it also serves as a space for gatherings and meetings of like-minded individuals. A similarly quirky and brilliant bookstore would be Garland of Letters Bookstore, with an extremely friendly staff, and a range of books on spirituality, as well as spiritual paraphernalia, such as crystals. One thing to note, though, is Foursquare user Jennifer’s advice: “Don’t ask to go to the bathroom. They’ll look at you weird and say no.”
Next summer: more eating, thrifting, and general shopping on South Street
I think these are worthy goals. Any goals for your next summer? Places in your city that you forgot about that you want to appreciate once again? Foods that need to be eaten?