Road Trip Chronicles: A Stopover in Philadelphia | Travel


Editor’s Note: This is the final installment of Charlene Peters’ Road Trip Chronicles as the former St. Helena resident travels across the country to a new home in Massachusetts.

By the time I arrived in the bucolic setting of Bernville in Berks County, Pennsylvania, I had covered nearly 3,000 miles. My journey across the country from California to Boston was coming to an end.

For this stop, I stayed in a guest barn on a lakeside property. Outside the front door of the barn, two horses were grazing in the green pasture against a backdrop of a small lake surrounded by woods. Yes, nature is the best medicine, but a little help from local practitioners has strengthened my efforts.

It took 20 minutes for my 90-minute full-body massage at the Bell Tower Salon Spa in neighboring Wyomissing before my breathing slowed into deep, long inhales and exhales – a sure sign that the massage was working to de-stress my body and soul. spirit.

My detox continued at the dock off the lake with my body lying face down on a SUP (standu-p paddleboard). It was early morning under a darkening sky with the threat of a thunderstorm. My senses were heightened by the concerto of raindrops and circular ripples forming with each drop. I was here for a sound bowl meditation performed by Cheryl Corson, a certified wellness practitioner from the area. Beyond nature, I heard her voice above me as she stood in the water next to my paddleboard.

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“If you put cheap wine in the bowl (meditation sound), it will taste like good wine,” she whispered.

I chuckled at the concept before a sound bowl was placed on my back and Corson started tapping the bowl with a wand to create a vibrating sound. This intriguing and magical symphony of healing continued through my upper back until the rain came up and we were forced to conclude our session and huddle under the roof of an outdoor living space at dock.

That’s when Cheryl reached into her bag and pulled out a kalimba, a wooden soundboard with a single row of steel keys – a seven-note diatonic scale, notably used in traditional Western music. She started tapping it with her thumbs – like she was a millennial texting. The quiet sound sounded like a bell and was deeply relaxing as a complementary modality to open my path to healing.

“Deep relaxation calms the central nervous system, allowing us to relax and sleep well,” Cheryl explained. “The feeling of calm lasts well beyond the session itself.”

In addition to better sleep that night, my experience made me feel more flexible throughout the day than I had felt in years.

With keen senses, dinner at Dans at the Green Hills restaurant in nearby Reading was a palatable treat that began with sips of champagne, a serving of watermelon steak salad and sweet potato soup sprinkled with pretzels. The owner shared a fun fact that this was one of Joan Rivers favorite places when she visited her nephew here.

Before leaving this farm country, I browsed the larger than large Renninger Antiques and Farmers Market in Kutztown, then headed for a wine tasting at Stony Run Winery in Breinigsville, where its magnificent view on the vineyards leads to a forest. Sips of a 2016 Pinot Noir and a sparkling 2018 Brut impressed, but the winning taste during my visit was a 2016 Chardonnay Réserve.

My road trip continued the next morning with a quick stop in Reading town center to take in the wonderful views of the area from the Pagoda perch. This historic city landmark was built in 1908 and anchors the mountainside atop the southern end of Mount Penn.

I said goodbye to Berks County and an hour later checked into the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia. Unsurprisingly, it was named the #1 best hotel in Pennsylvania by US News & World Report. I wholeheartedly agreed as the staff treated me like a VIP from check-in to check-out. Every time I walked past reception a cheerful attendant asked me how my day was and if there was anything he could help me with. My spacious room included a vanity/makeup table and a workstation with a view of the park below.

Ten minutes after arriving, I was strolling the Benjamin Franklin Parkway where this city of firsts held the inaugural Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1920, courtesy of Gimbels Department Store. My mission was to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see Frank Gehry’s interior redesign. What I found were small bronze portraits of Marie de Medici, Queen of France, made by Guillaume Dupré two years after her death in 1642, a painting by Benjamin Franklin, and in the McNeil American Presidential China gallery, the best painting I have ever seen of President George Washington.

By dinnertime, I was hungry and grateful for the brisk walk across the park to sit outside at the Park, right in Rittenhouse Square. My first course was a refreshing sliced ​​tomato pie, followed by a delicious plate of French-inspired Thermidor lobster with fries. It was as if I was back in Paris, with bistro tables set up under a red awning that read “draught beers”.

A plethora of restaurants are lined along or near 18th Street, including The Love, where I had lunch the next day, undoubtedly one of the hottest and most humid days of summer. A frosé seemed a refreshing choice to start with, and I kept it light with a superb sushi-grade tuna crudo salad with avocado and chunks of seeded rice crisps.

While in Philadelphia, my goal was to see the authentic and historic Liberty Bell. What looked like a 10 mile walk in intense humidity was actually less than two miles before I arrived at the building across from Independence Hall.

To my surprise, the bell was not on public display, so I waited in line for a security check before walking down the long hallway inside this underground museum where the Liberty Bell was on display.

Even at eye level it was much smaller than I had imagined, similar to my first experience viewing the Mona Lisa in Paris. It took me a hot minute to examine the 1846 crack caused by the brittle metal hit one too many times, then I said goodbye to Philadelphia and drove to Boston.

Charlene Peters is a travel writer and author of “Travel Makes Me Hungry”, available on Amazon. Email [email protected]

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