Places where I call home – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Part II
As I mentioned earlier that I befriended a girl studying at Wharton School of Business, it goes without saying that UPenn was on my list of places to visit.
University of Pennsylvania
I am smitten with Gothic Revival architecture. You probably know by now that Gothic Revival architecture permeates my college campus. UPenn is one of my most admired universities and one with fascinating Collegiate Gothic style buildings.
In Chestnut Hill of Northwestern Philadelphia is the Morris Arboretum, which is owned by the University. The Morris Arboretum is a historic place, the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The 92-acre horticulture display garden is greatly influenced by Asia with a wide collection primarily from that area.
Another university I visited while interning in Philadelphia was Pennsylvania State University; however, I have no recollection of what I saw. I can only say that what I saw probably wasn’t impressive enough to leave a dent on my memory.
Aforementioned, I acted as a host and interpreter for the Taiwanese bankers during my internship; needless to say, I was asked to tag along on their adventure out of downtown Philly.
Our first stop was Longwood Gardens. I can’t remember how I got there. I do remember that I took the Amtrak and the taxi for an excursion into the Amish culture at the Amish Village in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Anyway, back to Longwood Gardens. How should I describe it? You would be gasped at its breathtaking view and stunned by its beauty. Longwood Gardens, aka Du Pont Gardens, located in the Brandywine Creek Valley in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, showcases over 11,000 different kinds of plants amidst 1,050 acres of abundant and meticulously maintained gardens, meadows, and woodlands. There are 4 acres of greenhouses, countless colorful indoor and outdoor gardens, as well as numerous splendid fountains.
Longwood Garden was originally an arboretum, known as Peirce Park, and established by the Peirce family. Pierre Samuel du Pont, president of the E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company from 1915 to 1919, later acquired it and developed it into a premier garden estate in 1906. E. I. du Pont de Nemours is an American chemical company known as Du Pont, currently the world's second largest chemical company. If you invest in stock and if you know a stock picking strategy named “Dogs of the Dow”, you will be familiar with Du Pont.
I have digressed. I thought that you might be interested in learning the person who devoted his life to building this immaculate horticultural garden.
You might have already noticed that I like water from my various beach vacation. I like water not because I am a woman but because of the tranquility that it brings. It cleanses my soul. I am especially drawn to the view of the Main Fountain Garden, combing Frencha nd Italian design, with wrought-iron chairs and shrubs overlooking the 380 fountains and spouts, set in the beautiful Italian limestone basins and canals, rising over 130 feet high, through which ten thousand gallons of water recirculates each minute. The sight is extremely dazzling with illuminated fountain displays synchronized to music at night during the summer. The garden is exquisitely designed with hundreds of trees providing a green backdrop.
Another magnificent view is the Topiary Garden whose pruned shrubs surround a 37-foot sundial.
Nearby Conservatories are among the finest and largest in the world. The collection changes with season.
You might wonder what a house is doing inside the gardens. It is the Pierce du Pont House, the founder’s summer retreat. The Longwood Heritage Exhibit insde the house elucidates the history of the property.
Each turn in Longwood Gardens is a new prospect: The Italian Garden, the Flower Garden Walk, the Chimes Tower and Waterfall, the Bee aMazed Garden in Idea Garden, and etc. I had a rather strange sensation visiting the gardens. Time at the gardens seemed to fly like an arrow but at the same time seemed to stay stagnant. Spending an entire day here is never enough.
The Amish Village
Our next stop was the Amish Village, known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country, in Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania, one of the largest Amish and Menonite Communities in the United States. I can’t recall if I watched the movie “Witness” before I visited the Amish Village or after. The movie “Witness” has a very true depiction of the lives of the Amish people.
Here, you will be able to witness the old-fashioned lifestyle and heritage of the Amish people in a self-sufficient community that is based on a literal translation of the Bible and the Amish Ordnung without electricity, cars or the material allure of modernization.
The Amish regard secular values as threat to humility and community harmony, thus prohibiting personal photographs that accentuate individuality and outside interaction via modernization. Anything considered promoting individualism or pride is banned or discouraged. The Amish speak a dialect of German, the use of which binds the Amish together and limits their interaction with the outsiders.
Most Amish drop out of school at grade eight to work on the family farm and you can see the trace of the life’s hardship and chastening from everyone’s face, including small children. They look much older than they should. Life here is in slow-motion, like the slow-moving horse-drawn buggies. That is just how I felt. It might not reflect their true life.
There are several wineries and vineyards in the beautiful rolling hills of Pennsylvania. The two vineyards that I visited were Tamanend Winery and Lancaster County Winery. It is really hard to recall those visits I made almost 19 years ago. They aren’t the most impressive wineries that I have visited but the scenery of the vineyards is purely pulchritudinous. I do want to mention that the winery that left a huge impression on me is Stone Hill Winery in Hermann, Missouri, which boasts the largest series of underground cellars in North America. If I have time, I will talk about my other hometown, St. Louis, Missouri.
While in Philadelphia, I have also ventured out to New Jersey and Washington DC, playing casino games at the Atlantic City, sunbathing on South Jersey beaches and touring the National Mall. I will talk about these later if I have time.
By the way, did I mention that the first professional American football team that I know of is Philadelphia Eagles?
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