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Wonderland: a day date in Philly

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. C.S. Lewis

Well said, Mr. Lewis, well said. Today my husband and I got all gussied-up and made our way to downtown Philly for a day date.


I’ve been holding onto a gift card for a rainy day and was super excited to try “The Dandelion” right off Rittenhouse Square. Luckily, the day was not rainy, only windy.

The server was bland but the food was excellent. I even had a fancy cocktail that felt very Valentine and not too overindulgent. Vodka, strawberries, basil, and honey never fit so well together.

We thought the portion sizes were a little small but thank goodness because we had room for desserts.

Tip number one: never order an Irish Coffee at a British themed restaurant. They came out cold and we were charged an extra $2 for the one ounce of clotted cream. However, the Petite Sweets were ah-mazing.

Tip number two: if you have a gift card for an establishment, take it with you when you go. I forgot to take the gift card. BUT, at the end of the day, I’m glad, because “The Dandelion” does afternoon tea from 3pm – 5pm every day of the week. I cannot wait to return for a tea party with a group of friends.

How do you handle a full belly of lovely dinner and sweets? Take a brisk walk through Rittenhouse Square Park.

After making a wide circle around a live music/dancing circle, we soon found ourselves at our destination, The Rosenbach Museum.

If you love rare books and antiques, this would be a fun trip for you. They were having an ‘open house’ for the public today if you just signed up for a scheduled time.

Everyone was so polite and eager to answer any question that you found any bit of social awkwardness from the guides endearing. There was history all around you, which I found inspiring.

Above is a clock made by Marie Antoinette’s clockmaker. Phillip Rosenbach loved collecting antiques that had a connection to royalty.

Framed is a decree by Charles the Second pertaining to the theater which had been banned for a time due to Puritan influence and how immoral it had become. The decree allowed theater performances to resume as long as a moral guideline was observed. It also gave women the right to play women in theater productions. Previously, men/boys would play all the roles.

The chest below the decree is believed to have been Charles’ as well. When his health was declining and the end seemed near, one of his mistresses thought it best to ‘get out of dodge’ before his successor took the thrown. She loaded up the chest with a few baubles and snuck away in the night. It’s a wonder she wasn’t discovered toting around a chest that gaudy!

When you get to the upper floors, you are greeted by the main exhibit honoring Melville’s 200 birthday. Although interesting, I wish there were something a bit more interactive to really immerse the guests into the world of Moby Dick. That being said, I would have liked knowing about his other works, too.

I suppose it could be a fear as an artist to only be known for your greatest work. Before this trip, I could have never told you any other work by Melville other than Moby Dick. I totally Googled if he even wrote anything else. How cool would it have been if this exhibit told me about the things I never knew so I could explore the author further?

Despite Melville being the main exhibit, The reason I was really there was to see the rare children’s books and illustrations. Turns out, you can see them… sort of. They were in a glass bookshelf under lock and key.

My photo of the library didn’t quite turn out. This is a postcard from the gift shop. The yellow arrow is pointing to a first edition of “Winnie the Pooh” and rare “Sherlock Holmes” editions. The green arrow is pointing to a multitude of rare editions of James Joyce’s “Ulysses”.

Do I blame them? Not really. However, I thought some things would be on display. I am hoping to look into the programs they have throughout the year to see if there is anything more involved when it comes to their children’s book collection. Which brings us back to C.S. Lewis.

I did get this picture of “Alice in Wonderland” for a younger audience.  The original book was such a success that they suggested he restructure the story for different ages. Brilliant marketing, if you ask me.

All in all, our whole day was inspiring. Then again, isn’t any day with your Valentine inspiring? When you weigh out the little frustrations versus the moments of wonder, the wee bits of negative frustrations bounce right off the scale into nothingness. I smiled so much more today than an average day. That should be a daily goal for all of us.

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