I will describe my recent trip to Philadelphia for a YouTube gathering in depth because there are various travel related details I want to remember for future trips. I’ve been to Philadelphia twice before; once for the Philly Fringe Festival and once to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I drove to Philadelphia going East on Route 80 and then South on Interstate 476 which is a Pennsylvania Turnpike. The only interesting part of the road trip was the Lehigh Tunnel which cuts through Blue Mountain.
Once I reached Philadelphia, I didn’t make the correct exit in Central Philadelphia so I would up driving far to the South and had to make my way back downtown through a lot of narrow one way streets. That is why I hate driving around Philadelphia! It is easy to miss an exit and then you have to drive pretty far to get back on track. All those one way streets make it difficult to keep going in the direction in which you want to go.
Eventually I made it to my hotel on Arch Street. I stayed at the Holiday Inn which is conveniently located in the Historic District. I had to circle around the block several times before figuring out how to enter the parking garage. This is the kind of detail I want to record for future trips. To enter the 6 story, above ground enclosed garage, you drive up to the hotel entrance off Market Street, the entrance with all the flags and the revolving door, and then to the parking garage entrance on the left. When you take a ticket at the electronic booth, the gate will go up. I parked on the second deck. I could not check in until 4:00 PM so I took my video camera for some sight seeing.
The gathering was at the Independence Visitor Center which was a short walk from my hotel. I showed up at 10:00 AM which was two hours too early so I shot some video of the National Constitution Center across Arch Street and Independence Hall in the distance. I also shot some video of the Free Quaker Meeting House, a small building in a corner of Independence Mall. Then I walked past the Independence Visitor Center and past the Liberty Bell Center to film some close ups of Independence Hall. I got some footage of a horse and carriage driving by.
Then I crossed 5th Street and entered The Bourse, a small shopping mall. The Bourse features many gift shops for tourists filled with mementoes of Philadelphia. I bought some antiperspirant because I forgot to bring some and then I bought a Declaration of Independence scroll and a book Philadelphia In Photographs by Edward Arthur Mauger. According to my sales receipt the store was called “Making History” and my total was $22.47.
After spending a few tourist dollars I went back to my hotel and put the bag in my car. The parking garage has a stairwell and an elevator. Then I went back to the Independence Mall to wander around some more. I bought a sprite at a small cafe off to the right of the mall, overlooking Christ Church Burial Ground. Most of the gathering took place in front of this cafe where there were plenty of benches and tables and a few tree to provide shade. The trees were much too small for any shade though.
Then I entered the Liberty Bell Center and got in line to see the Liberty Bell. Unfortunately the line was pretty long and it was almost 11:00 AM by that time so I sent to the gift shop instead. I bought a small bronze bust of Ben Franklin and a small biography of Benjamin Franklin by Edmund S. Morgan. I then walked back to my hotel and put that bag into my car.
Back at Independence Mall I kept my eyes peeled for anyone with a video camera or camcorder but there were plenty of tourists milling about with cameras. Eventually AnthroVlog came up to me and asked if I was there for the gathering. (Later on, I learned that she was making a documentary. She interviewed several people and had them sign release forms). We searched the area until Noon looking for anyone else. Finally we sat down at the Free Quaker Meeting House where she assembled her video camera. Then I found one more woman looking for the YouTube gathering. So for awhile there was only three of us and we were worried that Independence Mall was the wrong place. What was going through my mind was the thought that some people met early on Friday and may have decided on a change of plans.
At about 12:30 PM, one of our scouting party found a large group of YouTubers under the pavilion. I think Jill, xgogobeanx, was the only user I recognized in that group. We wandered over to the cafe where the rest of the YouTubers eventually trickled in. I would estimate that between 100 and 150 people attended this event so it was not a large gathering considering how many subscribers someone like Nalts has or how many people use YouTube.
At about 1:00 PM Pipistrello showed up with a group of people. I’m pretty sure BigFatLamp (Nic) was with him. OHdulcenea! was there with her husband. She looked vaguely familiar to me but I did not recognize her from the NutCheese chat room until someone addressed her by her username. Some other familiar vloggers I met include; LittlePandaExpress, PrincessDiana and her husband Frankie and her daughter, Charles Trippy, OlgaKay, SneakyPreacher (seemed to feel very awkward being there), VioletKitty411, KatiesOpinion with ZanyBear, FantasticBabblings, and funkwurm who came all the way from Holland. TheMightyThor did not show up until later and Nalts arrived last. Nalts soon had a crowd of people surrounding him. He was the most popular YouTube vlogger there. Unfortunately NutCheese and Reynaldo could not make it because Rey had an infection and was in the hospital. This was a real shame because a lot of their crowd was there.
Chris Barrett set up a professional video camera on a tripod and filmed people against the backdrop of Independence Hall in the distance for a documentary. Someone was playing guitar with TheLilRedheadedGirl. I thought a few people were a little rude in interrupting me while I was filming, as if you would not expect anyone to film the gathering. That was mildly annoying. Nobody said anything to me when I videotaped a lot of the historical sites.
It was very hot and a few people commented on the fact that I was dressed all in black except for a skinny white tie. I just thought that looked better than a t-shirt. Eventually the gathering moved to The Bourse which had air-conditioning. I had a slurpy and sat with gang on the lower level until 4:30 PM when I had to leave to check into my room.
I was asked for my credit card which surprised me because I made reservations online and prepaid. They better not charge me twice for a room. I brought my bags up to my room and changed into a t-shirt and freshened up. At 5:00 PM I went back to The Bourse but almost everyone had gone so I went back to my hotel. I decided to leave immediately for the after party at Dave and Buster’s because I figured I might have trouble finding the place. It cost me $28.00 to leave the parking garage. Fortunately, I did not have any problems finding Dave and Buster’s which is located at 325 North Columbus Blvd. It is slightly difficult to get there because you must find a street that leads virtually into the Delaware River and under Route 95. Race Street allowed me to head in that direction, although I got stuck behind a horse and carriage that was traveling about a mile per hour.
Dave and Buster’s has its own parking garage. It cost me $8.00 to park there although I got a ticket worth $4.00 off a meal or drinks. I had trouble finding a place to park in the garage because it seemed pretty full. Parking is very expensive in Philadelphia. It really isn’t a good city to visit by car. Dave and Buster is a large dining complex with pool tables, a large bar, multiple seating areas, and an extensive game room. I walked through the place looking for my friends. The game room was very noisy and seemed to have everything including a western showgirls shooting gallery. LOL. I did not see anyone I recognized but I was early so I waited in the lobby. Eventually I met the same documentarian who was early for the gathering so we wandered around inside until Pipistrello arrived with 5 other people.
We were seated at a table and ordered drinks. I had a vanilla milkshake because I’d been too hot all day and was driving so I didn’t want any alcohol. Unfortunately, they could not take any food orders because their computer was down. This eventually became quite a problem as more YouTubers arrived. They could not be seated. It took over an hour for our food to arrive. I had a Philly Cheesestake! It didn’t seem like anything special. Maybe the bun was a little bit better than usual. Otherwise it is just ground beef glued together with cheese. Meh! Since nobody else could be seated they decided to head over to South Street. This did not make much sense to me because South Street is like the Greenwich Village of Philadelphia, a lot of small boutiques and little restaurants along a street that stretches for several blocks. It was not like a specific place to move an after party to. After my meal I decided to head back to my hotel room rather than try to find people along the entire stretch of South Street.
I noticed that it was getting dark and the bright lights of the city looked attractive. I decided it would be a shame to miss this opportunity. So I took my camcorder and walked up Arch Street. I got some great footage of Philadelphia skyscrapers all light up, the ChinaTown Friendship Gate, and close ups of City Hall including the huge sculpture of William Penn at its top in spotlights. For some reason, there were a lot of police and security on Arch Street that night. There must have been 15 or more police vehicles lined up and even more police on bicycles. They made me kind of nervous.
When I got back to my hotel room I got out my Mac iBook G4 and managed to connect to the Internet. I logged into NutCheese’s Stickam room and told the few people there that I was at the gathering in Philadelphia. NutCheese and Rey did not seem very interested in that bit of news. Maybe they were disappointed and didn’t want to hear about it. I’m used to people ignoring me so I didn’t say much.