One year ago: Philadelphia, Princeton, and the Jersey Shore

I totally didn’t see Snooki

But we’ll get to that.

Last July, John and I traveled back east to celebrate the birthday of his brother and sister (twins). We’d spend most of the time in Princeton, New Jersey at his brother’s home with the whole fam, but flew into Philadelphia and spent a day exploring the city.

I love big cities. I grew up outside of LA, and loved to get into the action. Skyscrapers hold my gaze the way towering mountaintops do for other people. Each city has its own personality and vibe, which makes everything more exciting. San Francisco feels approachable, despite its size. Seattle has a gritty attraction for me. New York City has an energy that simply cannot be matched. I’ve wanted to visit Chicago for decades. All of the different foods! Half a day in Philly was definitely NOT enough.

We basically wandered around on foot for awhile, enjoying the skyline and juxtaposition between the old and the new architecture. There is history everywhere you look. What a lovely downtown.

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We made our way to Rittenhouse Square, to a lovely restaurant with a windows that opened wide for a glorious view of the park. We had leisurely lunch, sipping a glass of wine and watching people walk by. A wine lunch like that is one of my ‘happy places.’ I wish I remembered the name of the place.

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An unexpected sight in Philadelphia? Stunning, colorful murals on multiple buildings. On the side of a house, on a wall near a parking lot. Serious art, and such a beautiful addition to the city.

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Proof I was there!

Unfortunately, without transportation or enough time, we didn’t visit the historical landmarks Philadelphia is known for. It’s an awesome reason to go back someday. As we prepared to leave Philly and head to Princeton for the fun family fiesta, I spotted this (and it made my day):

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I love me some funk. 

The three or four days we spent with John’s family were awesome. We traveled in a pack: his brother’s family (5), us (2), his sister and her now-hubby (2), and their Dad. I was looking forward to getting to know them better, and I felt so welcome. Our first big adventure was heading to the Jersey Shore for a day on the water. We were in parts of the country I’d never visited, and I was completely fascinated by the cultures of different parts of America. It’s kind of how I feel when I visit parts of Maine. The Jersey Sho-ahhh has to be one of the more classic spots.

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That was our ride for the day, and the college-aged boys who lined us up with the boat were not far off from the guys on MTV’s television show. They were ripped and they had pretty big accents. Everyone we encountered was happy and super nice: it was summertime on the shore!

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After some swimming, fishing, dancing on the boat, and exploring a bay for awhile, we pointed the boat toward a seaside restaurant. When we got their, John’s 15 year-old niece politely asked the waitress, “Excuse me, have you ever seen Snooki?” Our server laughed, rolled her eyes, and said something like, “Oh, yes. We’ve definitely seen Snooki…” It didn’t seem like she meant it in a good way. But the crab sandwich was delish.

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Later, John impressed me with his ping pong power and lacrosse skills. Oh, those East Coast boys.

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Another fun part of the trip was visiting the campus of Princeton University. Talk about history. I can’t imagine strolling past these incredible, ornate buildings every day to go to class.

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We spent an awesome afternoon at John’s sister-in-law’s family home, which has a great swimming pool. July in New Jersey is HOT!

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Tons of floating toys, water battles, and my favorite: dual Cannonball splash contests with John’s youngest nephew. He totally won, in splash AND form.

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We ended our visit with a big birthday dinner with the whole family. We dined al fresco, and toasted to a really fun few days together.

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I can’t believe it was a year ago that we were there. Last summer, I felt anxious and excited to get to know John’s family better. This summer, I’m counting the days until I’m his wife and our two families are one big one. I love that. I can’t wait to go back and visit them again.

Besides, I need a Cannonball rematch. 

23 replies »

  1. It looks like you had a wonderful time. I think not meeting Snookie was probably a highlight of the trip.

  2. I thought you’d have some fist pumpin’ pics of snooky there [phew! relief!] I would love to visit Philly one day, looks like you had tons of fun 🙂
    PS. I wish I could have studied law in Princeton…if only

  3. I grew up right outside of Philadelphia in New Jersey. It’s hard for me to think of Philly as a “tourist” destination, though I know it’s really cleaned itself up well over the last decade or so — that’s great to see.

    It makes me sad to see people identify the Jersey Shore with awful reality TV, because it’s really a wonderfully colorful place, we used to go there all the time when I was young (http://stevebetz.wordpress.com/2008/08/08/down-the-shore/). I’m glad you had a good visit!

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