Since moving to Philadelphia in 2011, we’ve taken a yearly break from work to enjoy some of what Philadelphia has to offer. Initially, we had taken time off late in the summer to try new restaurants, but we decided to move our Staycation to coincide with the annual Philadelphia Film Festival put on by the Philadelphia Film Society.
Staycation is always appreciated since we had only 2 days off (July 4th and Labor Day) since our Arizona and California trip back in the beginning of May. The Film Festival is at the end of October and helps kick off a nice stretch where we take off for this, then have a long weekend for Thanksgiving, then take a long weekend for Holly’s birthday before ending the year with extra time off for winter break.
Two years ago, the Film Festival was entirely virtual due to the pandemic. Last year was a mix of in-person screening and virtual screenings. This year was entirely in-person. I really liked when there were both in-person and virtual screenings since that gave us opportunities to see more movies. Of course, all in-person screenings felt more like the usual festival experience.
The only negative about our time off is I wound up hurting my back which meant not only missing some movies but also missing a friend’s wedding the second weekend. Too much walking across town to get to the theaters combined with too little doing the stretches I know help my back.
I saw 12 movies during the festival: 3 documentaries, 8 feature films, and a compilation of shorts. I had 1 more day of the festival than Holly so I saw 2 extra movies, one of which made my list of favorites, Tarik Saleh’s Boy from Heaven (since retitled to Cairo Conspiracy) which was an intense and complex thriller about a new student at a Cairo religious university who gets recruited to spy on a religious leader there.
Two of the feature films I saw with Holly were also among my favorites. We were both won over by the subtle but moving Return to Dust from Ruijun Li about 2 outcasts from a poor Chinese village who are compelled by the other villagers to get married. The film follows their struggle to survive as they grow closer.
We both also loved Louis Garrel’s The Innocent which was a funny and engaging movie about a young man whose mother marries a recently released convict. Although the son suspects his new father of still being involved in criminal activities, he finds himself getting pulled into a plot to steal a caviar delivery.
The Film Festival used to have separate showings for documentary shorts and narrative shorts but decided to combine them this year which was an interesting change. We really enjoyed 3 of the shorts: Maziyar Khatam’s short but funny Bump, Lewie and Noah Kloster’s Stranger Than Rotterdam with Sara Driver about the making of Wim Wender’s Stranger than Paradise, and Alice Rohrwacher’s fabulous Le Pupille. One of my all-time favorite films from festival going is her Happy as Lazzaro so it was a real treat to see this short about a group of young girls in an Italian orphanage during World War II.
Of the documentaries, Ryan White’s Good Night Oppy about the Spirit and Opportunity Mars Rovers and A Compassionate Spy, Steve James’ exploration of the life of Ted Hall, a Manhattan Project scientist who turned over classified information to the Soviets.
We didn’t try as many new places this year as we often do. The 2 standouts were places we went to for brunch.
We had been to Fitz on 4th once before but only for beer and snacks during a long walk. We had been wanting to eat a proper meal there for a while and finally managed to get there for brunch. We went there on the first Sunday of Staycation. It’s a vegan restaurant so it was nice to have a reasonably healthy meal early on since there would be more decadent meals in our future.
We shared an order of their Mac and Cheese. Holly got their version of Huevos Rancheros which was Vegan eggs baked ranchero style layered with beans, potatoes, “cheese” and salsa. I had tacos with roasted vegetables, black beans. cheddar “cheese,” house-made chayote slaw, and mango and jalapeño crema.
As usual, all my dining out photos were taken with my Samsung Galaxy S9+.
The other new-to-us place we were taken with was our brunch at Flannel. I had their Flannel Benny which featured pork roll, pimento cheese, 2 poached eggs and hollandaise on cornbread. I had never had a Benedict on cornbread before, and it was quite the treat. Holly had the South of the South Avocado Toast and Mac Daddy.
For the places we’ve been to before, I think I’ll mostly let the photos do the talking. I do want to say that we started our Staycation off with a trip to Pumpkin which is only about 3 blocks from where we live, which we’ve been to plenty of times and always enjoy. We sat outside in their charming streetery. It’s a BYOB so we brought along a couple wines we got from Tablas Creek Vineyard.
Our trip to Talula’s Garden was notable because we actually had reservations for another restaurant that night at a place that is relatively far (for us) from where we live. The only reservations they had available were late (for us). As the day grew closer, we realized that after being out and about all day, we really didn’t feel like making the trek late to that other restaurant and quickly changed our plans. Talula’s Garden is much closer to home and on the way home from the movie theaters. We were able to get an earlier reservation. We had been there for brunch and drinks before. Holly had been there once for dinner, but I hadn’t. It turned out to be a really great meal and much more relaxing since it was earlier and closer to home. We sat outside, and it was fairly dark so my pictures didn’t turn out as well as some of my other food photos.
Finally, Barbuzzo was not part of our original plans, but we ordered from there one night after I hurt my back. We had been there once for lunch ages ago and were quite pleased with our dinner from there.
Other favorites included:
Sam’s Morning Glory Diner
On Point Bistro
In an earlier post, I described how I planned on using my Traveler’s Notebook for Staycation. I did keep up with it during our time off and am glad to have that memento. I saved my movie tickets, cut out the descriptions from the guide, saved a few receipts, and even accidentally ended up with an extra ballet. I wrote everyday about our adventures and kept a calendar of all we did.
Of course, we were sad when our time off ended, but we already started a list of possibilities for next year. And, I hope, I’ll take better care of my back so we don’t have to cancel any plans!