Wednesday, October 12, 2016

An awesome day in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

After my exhausting 10 km walk in Charleston, West Virginia it was time to head to Pennsylvania's capital, Harrisburg.  I just could not face the 30 minute walk to the bus depot so got a taxi.  The first part of our route was once again with Barons Bus - so much nicer than Greyhound!!!!

Yes, it feel like royalty compared to riding on the Greyhound!

The scenery was pretty leaving West Virginia - lots of trees and hills.

The blue is the reflection of my backpack!!!

At Cambridge, Ohio we transferred onto the Greyhound and that's when the "fun" started.  The bus was bound for New York City and we stopped in Pittsburgh for a 90-minute lunch break.  I headed out of the depot to get some fresh air and buy something that wasn't greasy.  About five minutes away I found a Jimmy Johns and had a small veggie sub.  I then went to a small courtyard opposite the depot and sat to enjoy the sunshine.  About twenty minutes before we were due to leave again I went back into the depot.  As my luggage was already on the bus I was given a "transit" ticket which meant I could board to reclaim my seat before any new passengers. We stood and waited and the meantime there were announcements about delays on two other bus journeys - the express services to New York and Washington.  It was announced that the drivers were sick and replacements were being called in.  The reason for the delay on our bus was never announced - maybe because it was a "local" service we weren't important enough?   I went to the ticket counter but they didn't have a clue - or weren't about to tell me.  No one was getting any answers until finally one of the fellows waiting was told by Customer Service (he had the patience to wait in the long line) that we didn't have a driver either.  (this was close to two hours later) Three drivers calling in sick from the same depot on routes heading out at the same time?  Sounds fishy to me. I'd say someone messed up on the scheduling.  In the meantime the New York and Washington buses headed out but nearly three hours later we were still waiting. If only I'd known how long we were going to be delayed I could have done some exploring of downtown Pittsburgh but I didn't dare leave the terminal in case we were called to board the bus.  Finally, they announced that we were leaving.  As we were boarding the bus the fellow ahead of me handed the driver his ticket and she remarked "Oh I didn't know I was going to Harrisburg".  Turns out she had no idea she was going to New York City either and quickly ran back into the depot.  "Oh oh" I thought but turns out they hadn't informed her of the route.  She was good humoured at least (unlike a lot of the grumpy drivers) and asked for a vote on whether we wanted a rest stop or to go right through.  Everyone but me raised their hand for going right there.  "Damn, I've got to use the bus toilet" I thought so just before it turned dark I headed off to the toilet at the back - something I always aim to avoid if possible.  Once I figured out how to lock the door I got that business out of the way and went back to my seat (which I didn't have to share) and listened to music. We pulled into Harrisburg less than three hours later so I was only just over an hour late.  There were taxis waiting which was a relief as I am not keen on walking in a city with luggage after 11 p.m.

I had booked the Comfort Inn by the river a few weeks before which was also the start  point of the walk.  When I first looked it was more than what I wanted to pay and I booked an airbnb.  I am so glad I found a deal on as it was much more convenient especially as I was only there for two nights.  I do prefer airbnb over hotels but it would have meant a more expensive taxi ride and I found out buses in Harrisburg don't run after 6 p.m.  so I could not have stayed downtown.  The lady I was to stay with sounded so nice but I regretfully cancelled.  It had been a long day so I collapsed into bed.

Next morning I got up and had breakfast - again not the greatest but edible.  I set off on the 5 km walk although with all the distractions it turned out to be much more than that.

I loved these old homes and it reminded me so much of an area of Philadelphia which of course makes sense.

I visited the refurbished train station to use the facilities and as I was washing my hands a lady went into the cubicle I had used and came out with my point and shoot camera asking "Is this yours?"  What?  I thanked her profusely and realized I had better get my shit together as I was still pretty tired from the day before.  The next coffee shop I saw I stopped in for a strong brew.

I saw this from across the street and thought "what the heck is that"...

And then I saw another one and walked over to read..turns out Harrisburg was having a "Dino-mite Summer" with dinosaurs all over the downtown area.  So of course who am I to turn down a dinosaur stalking session....there will be another blog post just on the dinosaurs!

I was approaching the state capitol area.   I was shocked to see a green roof - don't ask me why but I was...

The Barnard statues which flank the main entrance of the State Capitol.

I then did my own tour of the interior of the building.  Lots of brochures and information - I've never seen so much in any state capitol building!

Medallions representing art, law, religion and science ring the interior of the dome as well as murals representing the state's primary industries at the time the capitol building was constructed.

The staircase is inspired by the staircase at the Paris Opera House.

The Rotunda was absolutely amazing.

Above is the Governers Reception room - beautiful.

I then wandered out East Wing exit and thought the "back" view of the State Capitol building was even prettier than the front view.  Of course the fact that construction was going on out front didn't help either!

The view of the Capitol building from Soldiers Grove which was dedicated in the 1930's in honour of war veterans.

Time to carry on to walk along the Susquehanna River but first I had to go and see a replica of the Liberty Bell. (I've seen the original one in Philadelphia)   This resides beside the Pennsylvania State Museum which was unfortunately closed.  I wish I could have seen it but with only a week away (by my choice due to having been away so much already this year and finances - Canadian dollar vs. American dollar...need I say more?) I could not wait around until it reopened on Wednesday.

A view of the front avoiding the heavy duty vehicles in front.

This charming little house was stuck between two bigger buildings on State St.

Looking down State St. towards the Capitol building.

Some of the buildings along State Street.

A short time later I was to the river.

It was an absolutely beautiful walk with the river on one side and magnificent mansions along the road opposite.

A cow with the skyline of Harrisburg...obviously they must have had a "cow parade" at one time!

Yes I sat here for a bit and enjoyed the view.

This sculputre of a man sitting on a park bench is called "Waiting".  I wanted my picture taken with this fellow so badly but no one was around and I really do suck at taking "selfies".

The John Harris Mansion as mentioned above...

This is the gravesite of John Harris Sr and John Harris Jr.; the latter being the founder of Harrisburg.  On a nearby sign was an interesting story of how the gravesite came to be.  The senior John Harris was a trader with local Indians.  An unfriendly bunch of Indians approached him for whiskey which he refused to sell to them.  They then accosted him and tied him to a nearby Mulberry tree with the intent of burning him alive. He was able to get the attention of a local slave named Hercules who quickly contacted a friendly band of Indians who came to his rescue and thus his life was saved.  He then made it his intent to be buried under that Mulberry tree and that he was in 1748.  As you can see his son John Jr. joined him there in 1791.  Well I thought it was a pretty cool story and a grave site is not something you see every day in a park.

This bridge is now for pedestrians only and connects to City Island which is a great recreation area.  If I had been doing the 10km walk I would have gone over there but by this time I was getting darn tired and I was only doing the 5 km...well make that a bit more thanks to those darn Dinosaurs!!!

And then the walk was over and I was back at the Comfort Inn.  While the day was warm it wasn't as hot as it had been two days earlier in Charleston.   Still, I rested for a while before jumping in the shower and dressing to go out for a meal.  After the disappointment of not having a nice meal in Charleston I was really hoping  to have a great meal with wine.  I had my eye on a renovated Fire station which had great reviews however I just did not have the energy to walk there.  I had noticed an Indian restaurant called Passage to India which was next door to the hotel so checked it out online and it got great reviews.  So I went over there instead and had a wonderful meal.

My favourite Indian dish - Vegetable Korma with stuffed naan on the side.  It was absolutely delicious.

Afterwards I decided I wasn't quite ready to go back to the room yet and I needed to walk a bit of that meal off so I started walking further along the river behind the hotel.  To my delight I came across the most darling area on Race St.  - called Pumpkin Row.   I had wished I had visited earlier as the sun was setting so the light was quite intense.  I didn't even know about this area and to think I could easily have missed it if I had decided to retire to my room....

Aren't they gorgeous?  I could easily live in one of them!!!  They were built around 1880 and preserved in their original Queen Anne style.  They went on for blocks and blocks.  Loved it!!

Then I walked back to the hotel admiring this gorgeous sunset.  What a wonderful way to end a fantastic day.

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