It was our fall break this past weekend, meaning us Hopkins students got an extra long weekend to not do homework we’re supposed to do. Some friends and I rented a Zipcar for the day on Saturday and took a trip up to the greatest city in America, sorry Baltimore –

P H I L A D E L P H I A.

Baltimore is the perfect location – only an hour and a half drive away from home, which puts me only two hours away from Philadelphia. Plus, you’re an $8 MARC train ticket away from Washington, D.C., and trips up to New York aren’t out of the question either. Here is my trip from last Saturday, as told through food.

We zipped up 95, with friends commenting on how picturesque “East Coast” the drive was – a beautiful autumn view with trees of warm shades and highways full of people who can’t drive properly. We took a quick detour to surprise my family back home — and I remembered very quickly how charming the ‘burbs are. My parents, sister and I chit-chatted, the gist of the conversation being –

  • I absolutely murdered my differential equations midterm
  • My sister hates AP Biology
  • My mom’s new job is making her design an indoor mini-golf course in her office (???)
  • We’re going to our grandma’s for Thanksgiving again

Then, I picked some persimmons from our tree in the backyard and my friends and I snacked on what felt like the first piece of fresh fruit I’ve had in ages (not good, should probably eat more apples or something).



These are pictures from our persimmon tree circa 2013 — thanks mom for putting these on Facebook 🙂

I grabbed my wool jacket from home (I forgot what cold felt like) and my friends and I headed up to Philadelphia. It takes 20-30 minutes to get to the city from my house, but we spent a lot of time just finding parking — shout-out to Michelle for parallel parking probably more times that day than I did in my entire life. We headed into Chinatown to get some Shanghai-style dim sum with some other Hopkins friends who were also in Philly for the day. I got no pictures – but it was my first time ever dim-summing (just coined a new verb) and it was great, great, comfort food.

After sharing our soup dumplings, we split back up and I gave my friends a tour of Reading Terminal Market — a food market selling every food you can think of – Cajun food, Indian food, ice cream, pastries, cheese steaks, fish and poultry, local produce, Amish deli — and I settled on a spoonful of my friend Justin’s pumpkin and coffee ice cream he got from Bassett’s.


Good ol’ Bassett’s ice cream from this past summer

Produce lookin’ mighty fine

We picked the car back up from the overpriced lot and before leaving Chinatown, picked up some bubble tea (boba?? I’m not from the West Coast??) and headed to South Street for some walking and sightseeing.


We stopped by the Philadelphia Magic Gardens (which is super touristy, I know, but there WAS a new Saner exhibit that was cool to check out for the first time).


After admiring some art and taking some family holiday photos, we headed to the Rittenhouse Square area to shop and also crash a Jefferson medical school alumni event to use fancy bathrooms. Somewhere along this timeline, our friend Jilliann had missed her bus back from New York to Baltimore and luckily was able to catch us in Philly and took a bus to meet us in the city. We picked her up from 30th Street Station and headed to our final food destination in Philly – the best cheesesteak place in Philadelphia, Pat’s King of Steaks, whose obnoxious neon lights challenge those of their rival directly across the street, Geno’s Steaks. After indulging in the holy experience that was a “provolone, wit” (steak with provolone and onions, for those who cannot translate between English and the Philadelphian language), we started on our drive back to Baltimore, which takes me to the most important part of our entire trip – our pitstop at Wawa in Newark, Delaware.



Wawa, named America’s favorite convenience store, is only found in the Greater Philadelphia Area. Think of it as the best version of a hybrid between 7-11 and Uni Mini. Its walls, adorned with shelves of half gallons of iced tea and hoagie-ordering computer stations, are sacred. I got myself a Wawa iced coffee and was a happy boy all the way back to Baltimore, ready to kick it into gear until Thanksgiving when I can eat my way back home again.