Outside Taco Heart

Staycation 2023 Highlights

posted in: Personal Essay | 0

Back in October, Holly and I took our annual Staycation which we’ve been doing since 2012. We moved to Philadelphia in October of 2011 and decided to take time off to explore our new home city. I had lived in a different part of Philadelphia before, but living in Center City was new to me. Although I was familiar with a lot of Philly, there was plenty to learn about.

We started taking our Staycation in August. Part of the reason for choosing the summer was that Holly was teaching an online class in addition to her full time job and would be busy come fall. When she stopped teaching, we started taking our Staycation in October to align with the Philadelphia Film Festival. We also decided that August was too hot for wandering around the city.

Although we always enjoy our Staycations, this one seemed particularly enjoyable. Part of the reason was that I had had minor health issues the past 2 years and got through this one unscathed. Another reason was that we had really nice weather. There have been years where we’ve dealt with walking back and forth to the movie theaters in the rain and have occasionally skipped some of our plans due to the weather.

We also managed our time and energy better. We’re often overly ambitious and over-commit which has led to us being exhausted. This year, we included a couple days where we went to festival movies at a theater closer to home. On one of those days, we just had breakfast and dinner at home. On a day toward the middle of our Staycation, we had a nice lunch closed to home and then went to just one movie at night at that closer theater. That seemed to make a big difference in getting through our time off. As we get older, we need to make some concessions, apparently.

I saw 18 movies (Holly 15), and we got to all the ones we planned on seeing. Most years, the weather or our energy levels or my health have kept us from getting to as many movies.

My favorite feature films were:

All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt

The Animal Kingdom

Chronicles of a Wandering Saint

Alas, there’s no trailer for this movie, but there is an official site.


The Taste of Things

My favorite documentaries were:

Fantastic Machine

Food and Country

Alas, there’s no trailer for this movie, but there is an official site.


One of the biggest thrills was seeing Playtime at the theater. The Philadelphia Film Society has been showing the top 100 of the BFI’s Greatest films of All Time throughout the year. The showing of Playtime, which is one of my favorite movies, aligned with the festival. It had originally been schedule at one of the smaller theaters but got moved to the theater with the biggest screen in Center City.

Of course, the other activity we engage with during our Staycation is eating out. In the past, we used that time to try new (or at least new to us) restaurants, but this year, we tried only 3 new places and enjoyed them all.

Pietramala is a new vegan restaurant in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia. Northern Liberties isn’t all that far from where we live, but it’s just far enough to be slightly inconvenient to get to. We had been planning to try Pietramala for a while but ended up waiting until our Staycation. A couple of the movie theaters are closer to Northern Liberties making getting to Pietramala easier. Unfortunately, it was too dark there to take any photos, but everything we had was delicious.

Neither Holly nor I are truly vegan, but we’ve been incorporating some vegan meals for health reasons. Another vegan place we tried was P.S. and Co. for breakfast. It’s really close to where we live and we had a tasty start to one of our last days.

The other new place we tried was Taco Heart. Not vegan, but they have some vegan options. We went there hoping to get their breakfast menu, but we missed it by just a few minutes. Although we weren’t able to get what we were hoping to, all the tacos we had were excellent.

Of the places we had been to before, I would highlight dinners at Fitz on 4th and Bistro Romano as well as breakfasts at Bloomsday Café, On Point Bistro, and Standard Tap.

There have been times recently when I’ve felt a little down about Philadelphia. Any big city has its share of problems. But having a week of exploring the city mostly on foot, trying new restaurants, revisiting some favorite restaurants, and watching unique films at the festival reminded me that I actually really like living here.

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