sending postcards
a travelogue by alex and mina


• 6 notes •

These pictures don't really do them justice, but the parks in historic Philadelphia are really lush and beautiful.


• 10 notes •

I'd like to say that spotting a Toynbee tile wasn't one of the most thrilling parts of my trip to Philadelphia, but I might be lying if I did. On the corner of 9th & Chestnut I happened to look down and excitedly began gesturing to the pavement while a confused Mina wondered if I had gone crazy.

So WTF is a Toynbee tile?

In the mid-1990's a series of bizarre tiles began appearing on American streets. The tiles were mysteriously laid on roads by persons unknown, and featured cryptic messages with a recurring theme involving the words "toynbee idea in kubrick's 2001 resurrect dead on planet jupiter". In the intervening years there have been a variety of media reports on the tiles, but no has come forward to claim responsibility. The consensus on the interwebs seems to be that any new tiles are imitations and the original artist is probably deceased.

Have you ever seen one of these?

broad street

• 6 notes •

The impressive building you see framed by the colourfully lit office towers is the Philadelphia City Hall. Featuring both the world's largest building-top statue and an impressively bright 4 faced clock-tower, it makes for a monumental sight at night.

Street musicians providing the soundtrack to meals at great restaurants, and well-manicured parks to stroll through after dessert; what's not to like about downtown Philly?

water ice

• 12 notes •

After indulging in cheesesteaks, we obviously needed to get dessert. A short stroll away from Geno's and Pat's is John's Water Ice.

Vanessa, who now lives in Sweden but is from Philadelphia, suggested that we go to John's. Actually, she basically planned our entire trip to for us!

We had never even heard of water ice before we went to Philly, but they sell it on pretty much ever street corner. We ordered chocolate and cherry. I would equate the flavour to a crushed Popsicle and the consistency to a really frozen Slurpee. The guy in front of us was buying a whole quart of lemon. We would totally have some handy in our freezer at all times if we lived there. It was so refreshing. Thanks for the tip, V!

philly cheesesteak

• 28 notes •
Firstly, please don't send us hate mail for not going to Pat's. As much as we would have loved to eat Philly cheesesteaks everyday, it's probably not a great idea. Geno's was our choice after a few people sent us emails recommending it over Pat's. We promise that if we ever go to Philadelphia again, we'll try the competition.

Okay, now that we've cleared that up: Geno's was good. Meat, cheese, and bread - what's not to like? We went out of our way to go there and weren't sure what to expect. When we approached a surly subway employee for directions, he felt it was necessary to give us his two cents. Let's call him Stan

Stan: Why you guys going all the way to Geno's, you can ge
t a cheesesteak down the street.
Mina: Oh, you know, it's a tourist thing.Stan: Where you from?

Alex: Canada

Stan: What's that coffee place up in Canada?

Us: {I think we just shrugged and looked confused}

Stan: ...with the coffee and donuts.

Alex: Tim Horton's?
Stan: Yeah, yeah. Tim Horton's. You guys like Tim Horton's?
Mina: Not really.

Stan: Exactly. Everyone told me to go there and it ain't nuffin special.

Despite his compelling argument, we made our way to Geno's anyway. The line up at the restaurant was quite long, but moved very quickly.

The signs before the order wicket were kind of scary and confrontational. Why is Geno so angry? We both ordered, quickly and clearly, in English to avoid a soup nazi incident. We later read that if you order with too heavy of an accent all you'll get is a bun with cheese whiz on it because they "need to keep the line moving". Yikes!

So, would we go to Geno's again? Probably not. But, if we hadn't gone we'd still be upset that we didn't try it. So, we're glad we did. Oh, and by the way, when you're in Canada, don't bother going to Tim Horton's - Stan was right, it "ain't nuffin special".

meditation in love park

• 11 notes •

While we were busy taking photos of the LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana, these people were enlightening themselves through meditation. Neither of us can say we've given meditation an honest try, but we don't know how people do it. There's just so much to think about that we think it would be difficult "turning off" your brain in a silent room let alone in busy Love Park/JFK Plaza.

The heat on that particular day was almost unbearable. Couple that with tourists taking your picture and it's a wonder that they were all in such a trance. Extra kudos to these folk for their self discipline.

the city of brotherly love

• 15 notes •

Sometimes being a perpetual tourist is a strange thing. Find a landmark, pose, take a picture, and repeat. If you're sick of looking at photos of us, trust us, we know the feeling. Having said that, we do love going back, looking at our past trips and reminiscing. These snapshots serve as a visual aid to jog our memories.

On the day we found this LOVE sculpture, we were hot, sweaty, and tired and couldn't be bothered to get all posey posey. So, here are some pictures of some other tourists:

They did a better job of posing than we would have anyway.
Have a LOVE-ly weekend. (Cue the sad trombone!)

en route to philly

• 10 notes •

We flew from Brussels to Philadelphia for the incredibly low fare of $300. US Airlines, for some inexplicable reason was offering this price every single day when we were looking. We checked out the same flight recently and the price seems to have tripled. Needless to say, we were pleased with the deal because we wanted to make our way to NYC (but not before checking out Philadelphia)! Neither of us had been to Philadelphia either, so it worked out well. There was no one on the flight either! Flying overseas is usually uncomfortable, but each of us got to stretch out over 3 seats and get some sleep. The staff was really friendly too. Thanks, US Airlines!

bye brussels

• 10 notes •

{a bust in the museum of fine art}

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Brussels. It was a charming city and we are hoping that we'll be able to go back soon to see Magritte's house, have some more waffles, and to explore the rest of Belgium. Some highlights:

{the art}


{this old lady with bright pink hair}

{peculiar vandalism}

{these dudes}

{chocolate shoppes}

{this man dressed as a baby}

{waffle and ice cream vans}

Later, Brussels.

steak frites

• 6 notes •

Before leaving Brussels, we knew we needed to have that velvety smooth mayo one last time. Since we wanted something a little bit more substantial than just french fries, we went looking for a sit-down restaurant. However, because we wanted to have an early dinner, it seemed impossible to find anything that was open.

We don't understand how people in Brussels can get away with closing their stores/restaurants really early and also for large periods during day. What's their secret? After some aimless walking, we found Le Cap, a small restaurant that was just opening up for dinner.

It had been so long since either of us had a proper steak, so we both ordered the same dish - sorry, vegetarians and cows. If it wasn't for well prepared filet mignons, we think it would a lot easier for us to give up meat.

Steak frites is a really popular meal in both France and Belgium. A few years ago, it seemed that you could only find this dish on a bistro menu, but lately we've seen it everywhere. What you don't see everywhere is this beautiful mayo:

The meal was lovely and the service at this restaurant was wonderful compared to the last one - so we left happy and fatter than when we came in.

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