Tag Archives: tours

Warning: Plan Ahead to See William Penn

William Penn on City Hall
William Penn on City Hall

The City Hall Tour Requires Reservations

The City of Brotherly Love proved itself quite the opposite when my daughter-in-law, two grandchildren and I set off to view the statue of William Penn above City Hall.

We knew observation desk tours were available and researched the Internet for details, checking Will Penn’s homepage. The website boasts, “This is where you will find everything you ever wanted to know about Philadelphia City Hall (and then some!) A second page stated,” Tours of the tower run every 15 minutes from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. A group interior and tower tour of City Hall meets at 12:30, Monday through Friday. All tours are free.”

We also checked a few other tourism websites to confirm. Then, off we drove, paying the toll to cross the Delaware River from New Jersey. Unable to find street parking, we pulled into a lot charging $5.75 per 30 minutes for the first two hours, or $27 per day.

We walked to Penn Square, entered City Hall and were directed to the gift shop to purchase tickets. What happened to free? An employee explained fees were $5 per adult and $3 per child and reservations were necessary. Reservations? Did we want the next available time slot in an hour and a half? An hour and a half?

I wasn’t upset by the cost, but waiting over an hour with a five and six year-old wasn’t an option. The kids wanted to see the statue up-close and I expected to take a few photos. Thoroughly frustrated, we returned to the car, paid for parking and drove home.

Come on Philadelphia tourist bureau– please give your visitors a fair shake if you can’t bestow a little love. Update visitor information websites now.

Next time, if there is a next time, I’ll know to make reservations over the phone. Call 215 686-2840, but another warning–they are only offered on the day of your visit.

Mimi’s Virtual Angels and Demons Blog Tour

Visit the locations from Dan Brown’s book:  Angels & Demons

Vatican Swiss Guards
Colorfully dressed Vatican Swiss Guards

Mimi must confess; she’s a fan of Dan Brown books. His fictional bestsellers, The DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons sparked serious religious debate. When an author can raise such widespread public discussion, he has written a powerful book.  And, a very profitable one as well.

If a book morphs into a movie, the book and author’s bankroll soars. Such is the case with Angels & Demons. May 15, 2009 marks the premiere of the feature film, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks.

Mimi remains fascinated by the book, and took the official Angels & Demons tour back in 2005.  The attractions, scattered around Rome, provide a quick glimpse of major landmarks and other  sites that used to be off the beaten track.

The Pantheon
The Pantheon in Rome, Italy

In 2008 Mimi returned to Rome and secured a ticket for the Vatican Scavi Tour. This time she ventured beneath the Papal Grottos, down into the Necropolis tombs.

She will share her Eternal City excitement and Illuminati intrigue through her upcoming blog posts, revisiting the following, one day at a time:

Santa Maria del Popolo and the Chigi Chapel

The piazza and fountains outside St Peter’s Basilica

The Sistine Chapel

Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria with the statue of St. Theresa in Ecstasy

Piazza Navona and the Fountain of Four Rivers

The Pantheon

Castle Sant’Angelo and bridge

Il Passetto

St Peter’s Basilica, interior and papal grottoes

The Necropolis under the Vatican- as viewed on the Scavi Tour

Please accept Thoroughly Modern Mimi’s invitation to follow the path of the Illuminati in this virtual tour of sites depicted in Dan Brown’s book, Angels & Demons.

Mimi  (AKA Debi Lander)  did not, nor is not currently, receiving any compensation from Dan Brown, Sony Pictures  or the Angels & Demons Tour company.  Mimi financed her own travels in Italy.

Statue of St. Peter
A visitor touches the feet of St Peter's statue in the Vatican

Thinkin’ Lincoln- Recalling a Visit to the Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial Happy 200th Birthday Abraham Lincoln : February 12, 1809

I grew up in Arlington, Virginia, a stone’s throw from the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery. The Potomac River acted as a fence, the Nation’s Capitol, a neighbor on the opposite side.  When I was very young, I imagined all cities had beautiful marble buildings like Washington, DC.

My family, like many others, only visited historic sites when we had guests. One of my favorite outings was the drive across Memorial Bridge to visit the Lincoln Memorial .  The building is like a classical Greek temple including 36 enormous columns, one for each state at the time of Lincoln’s presidency.  An immense marble statue of the former head of state, 5 times larger than his actual size, sits at the front opening.

I’d stare, mesmerized by Abe’s huge hands, one sort of clenched and the other open, resting on  the arm of his chair. Some say the sculptor, Daniel Chester French, who had a hearing-impaired daughter, carved Mr. Lincoln fingers to sign his initials “A” and “L” in American Sign Language.  Who knows?

The statue’s dominant features are the probing, deep-socketed eyes, the kind that hold your gaze with compelling power. Lincoln wears a sorrowful look, as if remembering horrific battle scenes from the Civil War.

Then, there’s the mole on his cheek.  Fascinating in the way moles are fascinating.

Today, the National Park Service guards the monument and tries to maintain a quiet aura, despite large school groups milling around. Somehow they manage because I feel  serenity in the place, a peacefulness and sense of pride.

Nighttime is the best time to visit, when fewer tourists linger.  Sit on the steps (there are 87, which equals four score and seven) and look down the Reflecting Pool toward the Washington Monument and Capitol .  The scene stirs with history, overflowing memories of past events, even if you’ve only seen them on film.

I’m not sure if Lincoln was our greatest president; his assassination certainly catapulted him into fame. Maybe the same is true of John Kennedy?  Roosevelt perhaps?  Others insist George Washington deserves the honor.

Nonetheless, Abe seemed to be the right man at the right time.  I hope our new president will be equally remembered.


The Lincoln Memorial is open 24 hours a day. However Rangers are on duty to answer questions from 9:30 A.M. to 11:30 P.M. daily.