The second day in Philadelphia meant a visit to Chinatown and lunch at Penang, a popular Malaysian restaurant on the east coast, where we sampled rice (Nasi Lemak, with coconut chicken curry and anchovy chili curry) and chicken curry (Penang Kari Ayam). Tasty and filling, Malaysian cuisine blends Indian, Thai, and Chinese influences nicely, and the web site boasts one or two pretty fair Engrishisms. Nicely fueled, we walked from Chinatown to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a long afternoon of walking and looking. It's worth it for the Duchamps room alone, but the museum has a fine collection of Cezanne, Degas, Monet, Gris, Rousseau, and the obligatory Van Gogh paintings that denote any serious collection. It has its holes (no Klee?) and its contemporary collection is spotty (some decent pop art, but . . . ). Exhibitions featuring 18th-century brush masters and couple Ike Taiga and Tokuyama Gyokuran and Harlem Renaissance artist William H. Johnson will satisfy lovers of print and brush. Of the older pieces, a small Heironymous Bosch delighted me. Of the more recent, Marc Chagall's Half Past Three (The Poet) hit home, the empty bottle, the happy head upside down, green kitty tongue. Too bad reservations for the Barne's collection were unavailable. Amy liked the Gauguin and Renoir.
Late in the afternoon, the museum presented a happy hour jazz concert in the atrium, but sensually overloaded, we headed out to walk beside the Schuykill River and trekked on to South Street where we saw the mosaic work of Isaiah Zagar and all the shops and restaurants and missed Andrew Bird at the Fillmore (sold out). We finally collapsed in a small Indian restaurant and snacked before we headed, exhausted, to our fine Motel 6 room across the river in Maple Shade, New Jersey, next to the apparently popular Elbow Room.
So, well-fed and cultured, we headed the next day to the Super 8 in Allentown on Airport Road, as close as we could get to Bethlehem and Lehigh. Allentown itself was uneventful, even drab, but we didn't give it much of a chance. The goal was to track down my son (thanks Elizabeth) and we did, dining at Sal's near the campus. Good pizza and garlic rolls, and a glass of Carlo Rossi Paisano is free if you want one (I passed), since it's one of many byob places around the campus (they can give it away, but they can't charge for it). Best of all was hanging out with Amy and Ian where he lives, which is why we came. It's weird to see your kids grown up, talking about plans for the future, maybe the Peace Corps. We were all silly together, and it was good.