TRAVEL Danny does Philadelphia

Monster trucks
FREE-WHEELING FUN Action from the ‘Monster Jam’ truck show in Providence, Rhode Island.

Danny does Philadelphia

Danny does
Daniel Carey

“REMEMBER,” a man in Rhode Island warned me, “just because Philadelphia is called ‘The City of Brotherly Love’ it doesn’t mean it’s safe!” That message was ringing in my ears as I exited the train station, but within seconds, Pennsylvania’s most populous urban area had lived up to its name.
I’d walked only a few yards when I heard two guys hollering behind me. One ran up carrying a pair of red socks, which had fallen through a hole in my bag. Clearly it was time to buy a new suitcase … and fresh socks.
My final week in America began with a trip to a monster truck show in Providence, and ended with an ice hockey game in ‘Philly’. In between, I bet $25 (and won 10c) in a Connecticut casino, saw the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed and emulated Rocky Balboa’s famous training run, which ended with a leap on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
‘Monster Jam’, a night involving big-wheeled trucks doing stunts, was my funniest American experience. My Irish host correctly identified it as “a glorified circus,” but it’s also a hell of a show.
Even better than the trucks was the ‘Sphere of Fear’, a metallic globe inside which three motorbikes rode around, evoking memories of the movie ‘Eat The Peach’. I opted not to spend $15 on a snow-cone (ice shavings and sugar syrup), but did buy a t-shirt. It featured a skull, the logo of the famous monster truck Gravedigger, and the slogan ‘Keeping the shovel sharp since 1982’.
Memorable messages were also evident on the streets of Philadelphia. A sign outside an art-supplies shop confirmed ‘Yes, we have Inflatable Beards for gentlemen – $4 each’. A nearby notice showed a diagram of a man cleaning up after his dog (to avoid a $300 fine). Somebody had drawn a speech bubble beside the man’s head containing the words ‘F*** this!’
Which was almost my reaction when told that it would cost $86 to watch an ice hockey game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Islanders. Still, I wanted to see an event in the city where sports fans once greeted Santa Claus with jeers and a snowball fusillade.
My experience was much more civilised, though the man two seats to my left roared ‘Sucks!’ after each of the New York players was introduced. When things got too peaceful on the ice, he screamed: ‘Somebody hit somebody!’
Still, a 6-3 victory for Philadelphia meant that even my bloodthirsty neighbour left happy, particularly once he learned that McDonald’s was offering free Egg McMuffin Sandwiches to all fans the morning after. Pity it was time for me to fly home.

Daniel Carey, a Mayo News reporter, has taken a year out to travel the world. His addiction to the keyboard remains, however, and this column will carry his reports from life on the outside.