Sunday, September 5, 2010

Philadelphia - August 2010


Olivia (middle) and her roommates 
took me to a neighbourhood pub
on my first night.
Finding a host in Philly was easier than NY. One guy whose CS profile said his couch was accessible agreed to host me, but then told me there were four steps to get into his house. Now I can handle a few steps, as I did in LA, but I continued to look for another host without steps to make things easier for me.

Finally, a girl named Olivia agreed to host me. She lived in an apartment with another guy and girl. Thankfully, there were no steps to get into the apartment. The washroom was a bit tight, but the doorway was wide enough for my chair and I could get in all the way and still shut the door.

Olivia is a spunky girl with lots of energy and life. On my first night, her and her roommates took me to a neighborhood pub for dinner and drinks. I learned that all three of them were medical students at the University of Pennsylvania. Olivia was nice enough to give me a key to the apartment so I could come and go was I pleased. This turned out be very helpful because since they were all so busy, I spent most of time in Philly doing things on my own. My only other time talking to Olivia was late on my second night when she got home from work. She knows the city very and even though she couldn’t join me for sightseeing, she recommended some great sights to see and pointed me in the right direction.



Every city bus was accessible with low floors and a ramp that flips out. Philly isn’t a very big city, so I got around fine just on the bus. I didn’t need to take the subway at all so I can’t comment too much on that. However, when I looked at the subway map, it looked like almost every station was accessible.

Streets are normal here with curb cuts everywhere.


I have to admit, my mean reason for wanting to visit Philly was to see the Rocky statue and steps made famous by Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky movies. I loved this movie when I was a kid, mostly because I used to watch it with my Dad.

Rocky Statue
So on my first full day, I headed straight on over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The statue is located at the bottom of the stairs on the right side. There was a guy selling T-shirts and other Rocky merchandise, but I didn’t buy anything. Now, to get to the top of the famous steps you need to push up the road that leads to the main entrance. You then go through the parking lot on the east side and eventually end up at the top of the stairs. So you may not be able to the climb the steps in your wheelchair, but you can persevere like Rocky did and push yourself up that steep road and raise your arms in glory when you get to the top!

From there, I pretty much walked right across downtown Philly, which is very doable, and checked out the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Both are free and fully accessible. I never knew that Philadelphia was such a historical city, so it was kind of neat to learn about its significance in American history.  

The best Philly Cheesesteak from

My host suggested I go to Jim’s for the best Philly Cheesesteak and she was absolutely right. I had the authentic version which is made with cheese whiz and fried onions and it was the best I had ever had. Funny story: Jim’s is also the first place that someone asked me if I was in a wheelchair. I’m dead serious! I was in the lineup looking at the menu, and an employee walks up to me and says with an ‘afro’ accent “you in a wheelchair?” I hesitated a bit, but eventually replied yeah. Then he pulled me out of the line, told me to go sit over at a table and he would come by and take my order. So essentially, I got table service in a place where people were getting herded through like cattle. Later on, I saw a sign that read disabled persons can just get a table and someone would come take their order. I was quite impressed this small eatery had a policy like that, but being asked if I was in a wheelchair does make for a good story.

Later that night I kept wondering around and found Benjamin Franklin’s grave and a park with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Overall, I found Philly to be a very nice city that despite its age was still very accessible.

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