During my stay in the United States, I intended to visit my ex Rob in New Haven, however I have never got hold of him, so I decided to go to Philadelphia instead and I bought a cheap bus ticket online. The meeting point was at the 88 East Broadway and Olaf had suggested that I should have taken the Express Train to Canal Street at 8am to be there on time for departure. The day after I was ready to get off at Canal Street but the train did not stop there, in fact, Canal Street was the Express Train stop for the M line but not for the line I had taken. I got off at Brooklyn Bridge and run all the way back to East Broadway and when I reached Manhattan Bridge out of breath and with the ticket in my sweated hand a Chinese lady called me: “Mr Zani! Mr Zani!” – “Yes?” I replied confused. “Please follow me, that is your bus!” I am still wondering now, how the lady knew who I was. Two and a half hours later the bus reached Chinatown in Philadelphia, where I got off on the 11th Street. The temperature was much milder than in New York City, I took off my jacket and I walked around. Φιλαδέλφεια, The City of Brotherly Love, that’s what its names means. The mix of modern architecture and the historical colonial buildings was fascinating. Once in Chestnut Street I could admire the beautiful Georgian Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was debated and later adopted on the 4th of July 1776, whose garden was adorned with American flags possibly due to the imminent election time. In the early afternoon I walked to the Sister City Plaza with the landmarks dedicated to Philadelphia sister cities, among which I could see Florence. After a short break I followed the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which reserved me another surprise: Rodin Museum and its Gate of Hell, the amazing copy of the original plaster, I had seen in the Musée D’Orsay in Paris. La Porte de L’Enfer depicts a scene of the Inferno, the first part of the Divine Comedy by Dante. “No wonder, Philly and Florence are twins”, I thought. After Rodin, I reached the majestic Museum of Art, where I sat on the steps and I ate my sandwich under a delicate winter sun.
After my tiny lunch I walked to the Eastern State Penitentiary, which had held the likes of Al Capone and Willie Sutton. “Let the avenue to this house be rendered difficult and gloomy by mountains and morasses. Let the doors be of iron, and let the grating, occasioned by opening and shutting them, be increased by an echo that shall deeply pierce the soul” wrote Dr. Benjamin Rush, a Quaker reformer about the construction of the State Penitentiary and that surely was the idea that that building gave me. I decided to follow to Philadelphia Waterfront and in the late afternoon, I went to see the house where Edgar Allan Poe lived with his family and where he wrote “The Black Cat”, “…Yet, mad am I not - and very surely do I not dream...” It was dark outside and it was about time for my bus, I left the spooky location to go catch my Chinatown to Chinatown bus.
It was Halloween night and Olaf and I went to Roxy NYC, the popular nightclub located at 515 West 18th Street in Chelsea, where hundreds of six-pack guys were dancing showing off their unnatural muscles. A couple of hours later, we got tired of the scene and we went walking around the city. It was a magic night, we admired Manhattan sparkling skyline from the Brooklyn Bridge and we went on walking to Brooklyn, where most of the houses were adorned with pumpkins and spider webs. I saw a middle age woman wearing bat wings crossing the street and steam coming out thunderous from the holes of a round drainage pit. “Gotham City Scenery” I smiled. Some kids were still ringing bells and shouting “Trick or Treats” in the street and I was wondering how could their parents let them out so late in Brooklyn, when I received a message from Jørn: “Help me - I’m in Jail...” I was still upset with him and as I did not believe a single word he had written. “It must be one of his tricks!” I thought while deleting the message. Olaf stopped a taxi, which was driving by and we went home.