Monday, July 5, 2010

July 4th

It was a wonderful Fourth of July. Hub, realizing I needed a bit of a pick-me-up, booked a weekend stay for us, kids included, at the Rittenhouse in Philly. Since almost all our family lives far away, the idea of spending the holiday alone seemed interminably depressing. And Philly was the perfect 4th of July destination.

To begin with the hotel was, as always, perfect. A stay there softens the rough edges of daily life. From the chocolate dipped strawberries and flutes of champagne graciously offered at check-in, to the toy chest filled with awesome toys that the kiddles had their pick of, and of course we won't forget the tray of milk and fresh baked cookies that arrived in our spacious room soon after we did. My entire being let out a sigh of relief and gratitude as soon as I entered our room. My tension was eased magically by this hotel, which seems to me an establishment that time forgot-in the best way possible. Old fashioned civility and customer service reign supreme at the Rittenhouse, and that it's off of Rittenhouse Square a city park/promenade right out of the pages of a Henry James novel adds to it's old world charm.

After dinner on friday night we walked over to Independence Hall to hear the Philly Pops play an assortment of American Classics by Copland, Bernstein, Gershwin, John Williams as well as the theme from "Rocky". American flags were handed out to all and at some points I really felt like I could have been a mother and wife from centuries past enjoying some contructive recreation with my family on the green in front of the great Independence Hall.

After a good night's sleep, no doubt facilitated by our trek across the city and back. We awoke and headed downstairs to La Croix, the Rittenhouse's restaurant, for breakfast. My coffee was good to the last drop, and made perfect by the serene setting as well as the beautiful clean design of the cup and saucer. For me, it's the small details that go into a great cup of coffee, and I believe a truly great establishment understands this: a great cup of coffee/tea is as much a state of mind as proportions and ratios.

The kiddles and Hub visited an old synagogue that was reportedly quite impressive as I strolled and window shopped on Walnut and Sansone Streets. After lunch everyone napped as I read my novel on a bench in Rittenhouse Square, the weather was perfect and scenes of weekend relaxation and frivolity played out all around. I felt as I was being restored by the bright and warm sun as well as the displays of friendship, love and camaraderie that surrounded me.

Girlette and I had a reservation for tea at 4:00 p.m. at The Mary Cassatt Room at the Hotel. I always have tea when I stay at The Rittenhouse, it being just the kind of anachronistic fantasy that I long for, and enjoying tea with almost 6 year old uber-girly Girlette was just perfect. Again, I marvelled at the lemon curd and the currant scones, as Girlette nibbled her chocolate covered strawberries and sipped her hot chocolate.

After the business of Afternoon Tea was done with, we all walked over to Penn's Landing to secure a spot to watch the fireworks and Philadelphia Orchestra on the riverfront. The music was stirring and patriotic, and the fireworks were spectacular!

Sunday, July 4th, began at the Liberty Bell, moved on to Market Street where we watched the colorful and festive Parade march by, and ended in front of the Art Museum were there was a fair with music and food and eventually fireworks which we missed, deciding to beat the traffic home and be satisfied with the fireworks of the previous evening. We arrived home just in time for a bed time story on the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a truly wonderful 4th of July weekend that hopefully the kiddles will always remember- I know I will.

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