It’s expensive to visit Philadelphia.
Seeing as we used to live in Philly, we didn’t notice how expensive hotels, bed and breakfasts, and hostels could be until we tried to visit.
We wanted to stay in the city rather than the suburbs and even hostels seemed much too pricey at over $70 each night for a private room, so we tried to get a bit more creative. Eric found Airbnb, which looked really neat and had a lot of potential and we have since created an account (so let us know if you need a place to stay in the Tampa area!). However, while it was a cheaper option compared to Philly hostels, rooms (or beds) available during the dates of our visit were still $60 or more.
We continued our search and came across CouchSurfing. I LOVE the concept and everything the organization stands for. We have since created an account there, as well (so, again, if you need a place to stay in the Tampa area, let us know, but also sign up with couchsurfing.org because it’s really cool).
We ended up hooking up with a friend of a friend who hosts couchsurfers and he was kind enough to put us up for 2 nights. We forgot just how far Fishtown feels from the rest of the city. We also forgot just how behind Philly is when it comes to things like accepting credit cards. We landed in Philly with the intent of taking the train from the airport terminal to 30th Street Station, then transferring to the MFL to get to Fishtown. We knew that the train was $7 per person to 30th St., but I could have sworn that there was a kiosk to purchase tickets at the airport prior to boarding the train. Either I’m remembering incorrectly or they removed the kiosk, but we couldn’t purchase tickets until we were on the train. We didn’t check our cash prior to boarding because we assumed they would take credit cards. Oops. We spent our remaining cash on the train tickets – luckily having enough to cover them. We picked up a day pass via credit card ($7 per person for 8 bus, trolley, or subway rides each) for the MFL (Market-Franford Line) at 30th St. By the time we arrived at Huntingdon Station, the rain was pouring down. Sean (friend of a friend couchsurfer) was kind enough to relieve us of the 1/2 mile walk from the station to his house by picking us up (for which we were extremely grateful).
We arrived in Philly around noon on Wednesday, May 18, 2011, which happened to be International Museum Day. We didn’t want to miss our opportunity to get into the Philadelphia Art Museum for free (normally $22 per person) (If you’re interested, Chagall is on exhibit through July 10, 2011), so we took the MFL to 15th St. and transferred to the 38 bus to the Art Museum. After walking through the museum, we visited Rocky, who is now located around the corner from the famous Art Museum steps. He used to be at the top of the stairs, then he moved to the Spectrum because he wasn’t considered by a few art commissioner members to be a ‘work of art’. In 2006, he made it back to the Art Museum, but he’s a little hidden at the bottom of the stairs.
By the time we finished chilling with Rocky, we were exhausted from the flight, trains, buses, and walking. So, we decided to head over to the West Philly / University City area (via bus 38 with a transfer at 15th St. to the 34 green line) to have dinner with a few friends at Dock Street Brewing Co. and to hang out for the evening.
Philly on the cheap Day 1 breakdown:
-2 Train tickets from airport to 30th Street Station: $14 ($7 each)
-2 sets of One-Day Convenience Passes (8 rides per person): $16 ($8 each). Otherwise, base fare is $2 each ride (cash), $1.55 (token).
-2 Philadelphia soft pretzels: $2 ($1 each)
-2 Museum entries: Free
-2 shout-outs to Rocky: Free
-Dinners: Free (thanks Todd and Tia!)
-Overnight stay: Free (thanks Sean and couchsurfing.org!)
Philly on the Cheap Day 2 coming soon.