Ed: Stuben has been traveling the world as he does, so he turned this one in late. And then I read it and got nuclear angry at some of it. Like Mitch Williams/Joe Carter levels of angry. Especially about touristy cheese steaks. So I added some notes. You’re welcome.
USF at Temple
Game Date: Saturday, October 21, 2016
University Setting: Urban
Nearest Airport: Philadelphia PHL
Alternate Airport(s): Baltimore BWI, Washington DC IAD or DCA, Atlantic City ACY
Usefulness of a Rental Car (1 = you don’t want one, 10 = you need one): 4
Stadium Name: Lincoln Financial Field
My Road Game Rank (1 = best road game 5 = least desirable): 2
This game I might think about skipping the rental car. You can use a mass transit, trains, city bus, airport shuttle (like Super Shuttle) or Uber for the ride to and from the airport and your hotel. Here are the scenarios where you will want a rental car: if you used an alternate airport, want to see sights out of town, or your hotel is in a suburb. Here is why you may not want a rental car: plenty to keep you busy in and near downtown Philadelphia and downtown hotels can be very expensive places to park a rental car.
My advice is simple. Figure out what you want to do on this trip first. If almost everything is in or near downtown, then get a downtown hotel. Rates shouldn’t be too bad on a weekend. If you have plans that take you away from downtown, then there are lots of great options, including Atlantic City which is less than an hour away (in good traffic).
I also want to mention that staying at the team hotel is a really cool experience. Sharing an elevator with the offensive line or running into the coaches in the lobby makes you feel like a super fan. The players appreciate fans who travel to see them play and will be glad to chat about the game or pose for a photo as long as they aren’t rushing to a team function.
My Take on the City
Philadelphia is an awesome place to visit. I love history and the Liberty Bell (worth a quick look, but don’t spend too much time) and Independence Hall (worth the full tour) are great for however long you want to spend. The Ben Franklin Museum is also well worth your time.
Another great place to visit is the Reading Terminal Market. It combines a historical structure with food and shopping, my best suggestion is to come hungry and try many small bites from many different vendors.
Ed: This is the best advice in this piece. I am doing RTM for breakfast, lunch, and probably dinner tomorrow. Get a roast pork at DiNic’s, the “Somerset” at MeltKraft, and 900 other things. It’s incredible.
Now, let’s talk about the most important thing: cheese steaks! The City of Brotherly Love gave a gift to the rest of the world, and the real thing is simple, a fresh bun, usually a long, soft and lightly salted hoagie roll (Ed: Amaroso rolls aren’t salted you tourist). High quality steak, usually thinly sliced rib-eye or top round. The cheese is most often Cheese Whiz (yes, you read that correctly, don’t try to get fancy and order something else, just trust the system on this one). You can choose to add onions, by saying “wit onions.” There is no lettuce or tomatoes. No mayo or BBQ sauce. Just a wonderful simple classic.
Ed: You say “wit” or “witout” onions and then your cheese so the proper order verbalized in full would be “whiz wit” or “provolone witout.” Philadelphians lost their h’s when the A’s moved to Kansas City. Cheese Whiz is for the tourists, but American or provolone are fine too. Some people put ketchup on cheese steaks. Those people are food terrorists and need to be ostracized. They are bigger assholes than Cowboys fans.
Now that you are ready for a cheese steak, you may want to know where to get one. At some point Collin Sherwin will tell you places that have better sandwiches than my recommendation. Don’t listen to him if this is your first time eating a cheese steak in Philly. Go to the intersection of 9th and Passyunk in South Philadelphia where you will find Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks. Pat’s is the originator dating back to 1930, but Geno’s has been around for 50 years so they earned their street cred. Here is what you need to do; pair up, go to Pat’s, order a steak, split it in half, then go to Geno’s and order a steak, split it in half. After trying both, be sure to let everyone know which one was better (Geno’s!). As a tourist, this is acceptable behavior, but if you lived in the neighborhood you would be required to pick one, and remain fiercely loyal (think Cubs vs. White Sox).
Ed: PAT’S AND GENO’S IS A TOURIST TRAP AND “GENO” WAS A FREAKING RACIST. Go to Jim’s on South Street (add a slice of Lorenzo’s pizza, and wrap it around your cheese steak for the South Street Challenge) or John’s Roast Pork or Dinic’s or any one of 100 other smaller places that are great. If you get in early, go to the Italian Market in that neighborhood and have your life changed.
Actual Philly things you need to try:
- A REAL soft pretzel. Must be hot and fresh, so likely no Wawa unless you have great timing. Philly Soft Pretzel Factory franchises will do, but from a guy pushing a shopping cart is true authenticity.
- Water ice (if you’ve been to the Rita’s in Clearwater, it’s the same)
- A Hank’s (or Stewart’s) Black Cherry Wishniak soda. Frank’s if you can find it, but that’s really hard to do, so Hank’s & Stewart’s make the only ones around. You basically can’t get it outside Philadelphia. You’ll impress the locals that you even know what it is. This is not a tourist thing.
If you already have done the Pat’s and Geno’s combo, then I suggest Tony Luke’s. Come in pairs once again. Order one steak sandwich and one roast pork Italian with broccoli rabe. Each person gets half of each sandwich. Once you have completed this stop and you want more, then ask someone from Philly (like Collin) where to get the best Philly steak sandwich. (They might tell you DiNic’s in the Reading Terminal Market, which is another reason to visit that landmark.)
Ed: We’re friends again. A roast pork with broccoli rabe is up there with Chickie’s & Pete’s Crab Fries as a signature Philly food. Chickie’s Crab Fries are also available at The Linc during the game from some special concession stands. It’s just crinkle fries with lots of Old Bay seasoning, but with a magical cheese that never hardens or overmelts. It’s amazing, do it.
Getting Out of the City
You don’t need to leave Philadelphia, but if you want to there are four great options. To over simplify it, one in each direction.
Head West to Valley Forge and see where General Washington’s troops survived a long winter. I love this place for both the history and the hundreds of deer that would wander right up to my car as I drove around the National Park.
Head East to Atlantic City and try your luck. Walk the famous boardwalk. Drive around and read the street signs (hint, you already know all the main streets since all the spaces on a Monopoly game come from real places and things in Atlantic City). Visit the original White House Subs and order the White House Special (the large easily feeds two). Ed: Borgata isn’t on the Boardwalk, but it’s the best casino by far. Check it out.
Head North to New York City and see all the famous sites of the Big Apple.
Head South to Baltimore and eat Maryland style crabs or crab cakes on the harbor. Tour Babe Ruth’s birthplace. Basically, if you are downtown and near the water, just park and walk towards the water and you will run into plenty of shops, restaurants and attractions.
My Travel Plans
I just thought I would mention that I land in Baltimore around noon on Friday. My first stop in Baltimore is always Chaps Pit Beef for lunch. Then the drive up to Philadelphia where we plan to pick up some cold beverages and the two sandwiches I mentioned above from Tony Luke’s and head to the stadium for some light tailgating. After the Bulls beat Temple we plan to drive down towards Wilmington, Delaware for the night.
One of the great things about Friday night games is the ability to see a second game on Saturday. We plan to take in Stony Brook at Delaware at 1PM on Saturday. After the game we plan to feast on all you can eat blue crab in old bay seasoning at Mick’s Crab House in Elkton, Maryland. I’ve never been there before, but I love blue crabs, and this place is in the perfect location and affordable. If the crabs don’t wear us out, we might hit the casino in Baltimore down near the airport before sleep and a flight home Sunday morning.
Road Game Rank
I rank all the road games in my subjective opinion based on the following factors: desirableness of the destination, USF history and significance of the opponent/game.
Here is my rankings (1 being the best road trip and 5 being the least desirable trip):
4. Cincinnati (tie)
4. Syracuse (tie)
I love this trip. I just wish I had more time to see and do more. The only thing that kept this from being the top road trip of the year was all that wonderful BBQ in Memphis. Ed: Rendezvous & Corkys & Tunica & live music... I’m not offended.