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Saturday, October 4, 2008


Two of our best friends in the whole wide world hail from Philly. The only problem with our relationship is, they now live in Billings, Montana (summer there is about two and a half weeks long) and we live on a boat (where we try to make it summer 365 days a year) bound for no place in particular. While this makes stopping by for coffee a real logistics problem for all of us, Harry and Dot have, nonetheless, provided us with the best recommendations available anywhere for where to go in Philly. With that in mind, we set out on our last day in Philly to find the Italian Market and Geno’s Steaks.

The Italian Market is really far from the Philadelphia Marine Center, so we elected to take a bus and save ourselves a lot of steps. So, we walked from the marina to 8th Street and from there, caught the bus to the Italian Market. I told our driver where we wanted to go and he let us know when it was time to get off of the bus, making sure that we went in the correct direction to the market. Two blocks and one right-turn later, we had stepped backwards about a hundred years to a time before supermarkets, barcodes and mass marketing existed.

The Italian Market has been in existence since 1915 and covers both sides of 9th Street, for the four-block stretch between Montrose and Washington Avenues. The sidewalks are lined with vendors selling fruits, vegetables, beef, smoked meats, hams, sausages and all types of Italian Cuisine. The narrow walkways are packed shoulder to shoulder with people buying fresh foods at really great prices. The visual impact, the wonderful smells and the dull roar of 10,000 simultaneous conversations mixed with the din of traffic sounds makes this area of Philly truly unforgettable. Kim and I bought some succulent, fresh Italian sausage, homemade pesto and marinara sauces and fresh baked Italian bread to enjoy later. From the Italian Market, it was a short walk to Geno’s Steaks, at the intersection of 9th St. and E. Passyunk Ave.

Geno’s (http://www.genosteaks.com/) has been famous for its Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches since its founding in 1966. More recently, Geno’s has been infamous for their signs, “This is AMERICA, When Ordering, PLEASE SPEAK ENGLISH.” After a two year legal battle, it was determined that the signs didn’t discriminate against any ethnic group and they are visible at every window.

The steaks were NOT a disappointment. The bread was fresh, the steak, onions and peppers were hot and the cheese (whiz on mine and provolone on Kim’s) was robust and plentiful. And talk about quick, the sandwiches were served with my change and there was NO wait at all. McDonalds could sure learn a lot from this place. In addition to our food, I also bought an “I’m an AMERICAN - I Order in ENGLISH” T-shirt, which draws quite a few looks when I wear it. Harry, you were right, Geno’s is the very best in Philly!!

With our day’s adventure complete, Kim and I caught the bus back to the waterfront and returned to the boat. As we entered the security gate to our slip, we were greeted by a red carpet running the length of the dock and, down at the last slip, a Mardi Gras Band playing New Orleans style music. We found out that some folks were having their 35th wedding celebration on a river cruise boat and had invited a bunch of people to share in the fun. But we know this was really our special send-off from one of our most favorite cites, Philadelphia, PA.

In the morning we will begin the trip south.

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