Philadelphia City of Murals

Philadelphia City of Murals |  Philadelphia |  If you are visiting Philly, on business or planning to assist the upcoming PIFA – Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, pay attention to the amazing street collection of mural that are all over the city, as part of the Mural Arts Program by the City of Philadelphia. over 3,000 murals which have become a cherished part of the civic landscape and a great source of inspiration to the millions of residents and visitors who encounter them each year.
The Mural Arts Program, is the largest public art program in the United States, uniting artists and communities through a collaborative process, rooted in the traditions of mural-making, to create art that transforms public spaces and individual lives. Their Palette of Core Values are: Art ignites change. Stories must be told. We beats Me. It ain’t about the Paint. Make promises and keep them. Take turns. Think deeply, Create fearlessly. Expect Permission / Ask Forgiveness. The Biggest risk may not be taking it. Art is an economic Engine. Yo this is Fun.
The Mural Arts Program began in 1984 as a component of the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network, an effort spearheaded by then Mayor Wilson Goode to eradicate the graffiti crisis plaguing the city. The Anti-Graffiti Network hired muralist Jane Golden to reach out to graffiti writers and to redirect their energies from destructive graffiti writing to constructive mural painting. From the beginning, Golden witnessed how mural-making changed lives and how the murals themselves began to mend the aesthetic fabric of the city.
The mural-making process gives neighborhood residents a voice to tell their individual and collective stories, a way to pass on culture and tradition, and a vehicle to develop and empower local leaders. Example of this is the Pride and Progress Mural by Ann Northrup, located just around the corner from the LGBT Center of Philadelphia. A 7,500-square-foot mural that pays tribute to Philadelphia’s GLBT community. “Pride and Progress” depicts a composite of 1960s gay civil rights marches in Philadelphia and New York, a festival on cobblestone streets with a multicultural throng and segments of Independence Mall, all under a moody sky with the hint of a rainbow. The Mural is painted on the side of the William Way Gay Community Center.
The Mural Arts Program’s success is in large part due to its faith in three simple words, three words Jane Golden herself uses as a personal and professional mantra: Art Saves Lives. It is with this conviction that the organization looks forward to continually enhancing its programs and embarking on special initiatives that will continue to challenge and inspire the many individuals whose lives are touched by Philadelphia’s murals. To lear more about Mural Arts Program and support their cause, visit

This is just another great reason and excuse to visit Philadelphia and PIFA – Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts to take place at the Kimmel Center of the performing arts (April 7th. till May 1st., 2011). Art is made up of moments. Moments of inspiration. Power. Emotion. Grace. Passion. These moments collided in Paris in 1911 and changed the path of art and conventional creativity. There will be another spectacular convergence exactly 100 years later… For more information visit the official website at

Kimmel Center for the performing Arts

Kimmel Center for the performing Arts |  Philadelphia |  During my last visit to Philadelphia, I saved some time to check the fantastic Kimmel Center for the performing arts, which will be the hosting venue for PIFA – Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts. Kimmel Center Inc.’s mission is to operate a world-class performing arts center that engages and serves a broad audience from throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. The building and main entrance is on Broad Street only a few blocks away from the Philadelphia’s City Hall.
Internationally-acclaimed experts in their respective fields, architect Rafael Viñoly, acoustician Russell Johnson of ARTEC Consultants Inc., and Richard Pilbrow of Theatre Projects Consultants, have assembled a dynamic team to create The Kimmel Center. The Center includes these two buildings – Verizon Hall, home of The Philadelphia Orchestra and Perelman Theater, home of the chamber music, dance and drama, and Commonwealth Plaza, which are entirely enclosed by a surrounding structure of glass, steel and brick, so that the irregular spaces between and around them become a kind of indoor plaza, top-lit by day through an immense, glass-and-steel barrel vault roof.
All last minute details are being taken care by PIFA organizer and Kimmel Center, since in just less than 12 days will be the open ceremony (APRIL 7th.). Probe of this is the transformation of the Kimmel Center Plaza as an 81-foot light-bulb-filled Eiffel Tower reaches for the sky as trains and planes zoom overhead. Every day there will be French wine tastings, French lessons and French food. Followed by free nightly performances, a full service bar and lots more to keep your PIFA energy alive. CM

(*) For more information and tickets on PIFA 2011 please visit their official website @

(**) To lear more about what is happening and been shown at the Kimmel Center for the performing arts please visit their website @

Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary | Philadelphia | WOW everyone, what a great tour if you happen to be in Philadelphia. A Penitentiary, who knew right, but I guess that if you can visit a cemetery or graveyard, why not a penitentiary. The highlights of this tour are Al Capone’s Cell, the Death Row and the visit to some of the Haunted cells – which have been featured many times into the Most Haunted Ones. ooooo spooky. !!!!. Now being serious, I recommend this tour that takes approximately 1 hours reliving the live conditions and stories of those days.
Located only 5 blocks away from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and 10 minutes from the City Hall, you will ask yourself who on earth planned to build a Penitentiary in the middle of Philadelphia city. Well you have to go back in time to understand that, in fact was the other way around… Philadelphia outgrew surrounding the penitentiary, being this one of the many reasons why nowadays remains closed.
Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts.
Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone. (Picture above was Al Capone’s Cell). The story also tells that Easter State, opened in 1829, to become one of the most expensive American buildings of its day and soon the most famous prison in the world. The Penitentiary would not simply punish, but move the criminal toward spiritual reflection and change. The method was a Quaker-inspired system of isolation from other prisoners, with labor. The early system was strict. To prevent distraction, knowledge of the building, and even mild interaction with guards, inmates were hooded whenever they were outside their cells. But the proponents of the system believed strongly that the criminals, exposed, in silence, to thoughts of their behavior and the ugliness of their crimes, would become genuinely penitent. Thus the new word, penitentiary.
In the vaulted, skylit cell, the prisoner had only the light from heaven, the word of God (the Bible) and honest work (shoemaking, weaving, and the like) to lead to penitence. The penitentiary was conceived and built to be inescapable, but through it over 140 years of life, they counted over 135 escapes…

During the tour you will also get to see the Death Row, the Hole, most of the Cell Halls, the surveillance center and the renown haunted cell number 14. Take your time to come an visit the Eastern State Penitentiary you will really enjoy it. CM

(*) For more information or booking tours or groups Eastern State Penitentiary. (Daily 10 am to 5 pm – last entry: 4 pm)

Hold on tight to your printed Ticket with Amtrak

Hold on tight to your printed Ticket with Amtrak | Philadelphia | Amtrak, and specially the Philadelphia base, simply this is all I have to say about you and your customer service, you guys are a JOKE. In times of E-Tickets, Apps, Emails, when everyone meaning airlines, trains, buses, ferries, hotels… all over the world use E-Tickets or even iPhone Digital Tickets, you are holding customers hostage of your own archaic ways of doing business in 2011. Please Amtrak time to grow up and to stop charging customers for your lack of technology. Shame on you.!!’
To make the story short, since I hate writing bad reviews and it is rarely my style, but hey maybe I should right…. how about – The Chronicles of a Bed Bug, back to the subject next time you travel on Amtrak be carefull and hold on tight to your printed Ticket (old fashion I hear you boys). Yes that ticket that nobody uses anymore, that ticket that when you check in at the automated Amtrak Quik-Trak self-service ticketing kiosk they print for segments you wont be using until your return (that let’s be honest there are 90% changes you might loose, yes Amtrak extra money for you right, smart move in times of tough economy), that ticket – now I know – that if you loose regardless of having your useless confirmation number, the Amtrack Quik-Trak self-service ticketing kiosk bla bla bla will no longer recognize directing you to an Agent (thank God for human beings), whom after welcoming you to the fabulous Amtrack family and with a pearl white smile will tell you …” Oh no worries Mr. Melia, just pay for a new Ticket and you will be set to go and in New York in no time…” WHATTTTTTTT .? You must be joking right.

Hell no.!!!! Your email confirmation, your booking code, your Amtrack Rewards and your pretty smile, shove it where the sun don’t shines… Because as the Agent put it to her Supervisor …” He is trying to get a Ticket for Free…” Well Ms.Debbie Montgomery – Manager of Station Operations, I am not trying to get a ticket for Free, I already got one, the original Round Trip paid by the Tourism Office of Philadelphia, Round Trip as it shows on my confirmation Email and Booking Code # 00CCAB… OK.!!! Trust  me Ms. Montgomery, you were saved by the bell and not exactly the Liberty Bell, since all this happened 5 minutes before my train was leaving and to be honest I was not in the mood or interested on hanging there longer to chit-chat with you or your staff. Just because your system is not capable or advance enough to REPRINT a ticket purchased online, I hold hostage, punished and had to buy a new ticket (USD 50) to be able to get on the train. Nice way to get extra income from your customers Amtrak way to go.!!!
Amtrak – Enjoy your journey they promote, what a JOKE. Maybe I should have taken the ACELA that is business friendly and they would have taken care and helped me right away right… Mmmmm wait a minute, OH nooooo it is the same company and being that they charge over (USD 150) each way, I would have had to pay three times more than I did for my lack of responsibility and for trying – as they said – to sneak in and get a free ticket. Well now I know next time I will take Megabus or one of the cheap chinese Bus services, even THEY can reprint your tickets. CM

(All documents avaible for those interested to check this case further, or if any Amtrak representative wishes to fix this nonsense)

Barbuzzo Restaurant

Barbuzzo Restaurant |  Philadelphia |  Mediterranean Kitchen & Bar. The new gourmet hot spot of Philadelphia, right on South 13th. Street at the so called Gayborhood. Great informal restaurant with open kitchen and great food by Chef Marcie B Turney.
Wood burning Pizza, Olives, Mozzarella, Bruschettas, and lots of rustic Mediterranean touches that you will truly enjoy. As the manager put it to our table light lunchs and decadent spicy diners. From the same owners of Lolita, Bindi and Marcie Blaine Chocolates.
The choice for the day was (here we go ha ha ha … ) Starters: Roasted Beets with goat cheese, orange, pistachio pesto and Tuscan kale (USD 7), Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Barbuzzo Pancceta, caciocavallo and lemon (USD 6), Gigande Bean Salad (USD 13). Main Course: Spanish Spice Rubbed Grilled Chicken with smoked pimenton, manchego, almond-hazelnut romesco, roasted garlic aioli, pickled read onions, rosemary foccacia. (USD 9).
The most orgasmic dessert I have tried in the last few month. WOW… it is just fantastic, no wonder why they have started a self business out of it. Everyone goes crazy for this dessert signature of Barbuzzo. The name of this fantastic new sin is BUDINO. (dark chocolate crust, vanilla bean caramel and sea salt)

(*) For more information visit the official website

The Independent Hotel Philadelphia

The Independent Hotel Philadelphia |  Philadelphia |  A boutique hotel for the independently minded. A great small and intimate boutique hotel very conveniently and strategically located right of South 13th. Street in the heart of what they call here in Philly, the Gayborhood. A fine boutique hotel for the discerning few, for those that define individuality. The Independent is a 24-room boutique hotel located in a fully restored Georgian-Revival building located at 1234 Locust Street in the vibrant Midtown Village area of Center City, Philadelphia. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Independent received an extensive renovation before opening its doors to discerning tourists and business travelers in June 2008. The hotel comes alive with style, comfort and personality. Designed by Robert Moskowitz of Rittenhouse Interior Design Group, The Independent has an air of sophistication in a world of refined details where every item was carefully chosen to capture the city’s historical roots.
Guests are greeted by the 4-story hotel lobby and lounge, which is accented by a crystal chandelier. The feature wall of the hotel displays a 30-foot hand painted work of art by local muralist, Kim Senior. The color palette of the lobby is rich and soothing, reminiscent of Historic Philadelphia.
Spacious rooms with décor that invites you to unwind and relax offer a surprise at every booking. Bathrooms are spacious and luxurious, fitted with tin ceiling tiles. Some rooms have fireplaces; others exposed brick walls, cathedral ceilings, French windows, or loft bedrooms. This elegant setting acts as a backdrop for textural and seductive fabrics and furnishings, designed to complement the dramatic architecture. (Video below is my room KING Deluxe )

All rooms offer Complimentary Light Fare Breakfast daily, Wine Reception Monday – Thursdays, WiFi Connection, Business Center. Amenities by Gilchrist & Soames. Full Kitchenettes, HD TVs and iPod Docking Stations.

(*) The Independent Hotel Philadelphia is part of CM by Carlos Melia Collection. For bookings or inquiries do not hesitate to Contact Me. | 646.460.6045 | Toll Free US. 800.729.7472 ext 205

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The Independent Hotel Philadelphia, is the perfect option to stay for PIFA 2011 – Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts 2011. (April 7th. to May 1st., 2011) to be hosted at the Kimmel Center. PIFA is all about artistic expressions from across the region and around the world. And the world will be invited to join them in a new moment of innovation, collaboration and creativity. Art is made up of moments. Moments of inspiration. Power. Emotion. Grace. Passion. These moments collided in Paris in 1911 and changed the path of art and conventional creativity. There will be another spectacular convergence exactly 100 years later.

Philadelphia here I come

Philadelphia here I come | Philadelphia | Hey Philadelphia here I come. Invited by the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. and PIFA – Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, I will be visiting the city from tomorrow Monday 7th. February till Thursday. So stay tuned for my blog posts. During this visit I will be reviewing Amtrak Trains, SOFITEL Hotel, The Independent Hotel, LOEWS Hotel. Also I have been granted a VIP Philadelphia Pass meaning I will have full access to all the Museums and Attractions of the city. Philadelphia is only 1 hour and 20 minutes from the city of New York… With Love Philadelphia XOXO. !

(*) Special Thanks to Jeff Guaracino and Bruce Yelk from the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. for making this trip possible.

(**) For those interested on learning more about PIFA, please check my previous post on this HERE.

Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts

Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts | Une Petit Soiree in New York City Previewing what will come soon to the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (April 7th. – May 1st.). Tonight we enjoy a very nice evening by the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation and PIFA – Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts organization, for the presentation of the upcoming month of the Arts to take place at this fantastic city. A festival to celebrate the quality, breadth and diversity of Philadelphia’s arts and cultural resources. The promoters say they will have something for everyone, and they mean it: LGBT Artists, Happening and More will perform and expose during this non-stop month of art.

Philadelphia continues its longstanding love affair with all things French, and this year goes over the top with too main events both themed around Paris. The Philadelphia International Flower Show (March 6 – 13h) and the first ever Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (April 7th – May 1st).

Join the Moment. Over 135 Events, 1500 Artists, One Festival. Join for a new moment of innovation, collaboration and creativity. Featuring events, performances and creative experiences form Philadelphia and around the world. A convergence of art, ideas and inspiration that hasn’t been seen since a century ago in Paris.  The Philadelphia Orchestra, Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, Grounded Aerial, Les Nubians, Sharp Dance Company, Pennsylvania Ballet, Rennie Harris Puremovement, Campagnie Trans Expresse, Questlove among many other will gather during this 25 days of celebration to Art. LGBT representation by Fete du Soir, Raving Beauty, A Lyric Opera Made by Two and PIFA Leadership.

One hundred years ago, artists from around the globe converged on Paris and changed how we make and experience art. In 2011 Philadelphia will celebrate that incredible era with a festival created and presented by the region’s outstanding artists and institutions, often in collaboration with artists from France and other countries. (Video above is just a modest presentation of the performance the Grounded Aerial will do during the festival).
The Kimmel Center lobby will undergo a Parisian transformation for this occasion, featuring an 85 ft. replica of the Eiffel Tower, a Bistro Cafe, and nightly live performances. Plus, a colorful street fair will fill six blocks of the Avenue of the Arts with music, crafts, food and a stunning finale featuring 18 performers suspended from an exquisite musical chandelier, high above the crowd.
Meryl Levitz – President & CEO Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, took a moment to introduced us to all the wonders that Philadelphia has to offer as a destination for any and every type of traveller. I will check this personally soon, since I will be coming to Philly to review Hotels and Restaurants previous to the festival to share with you all and give you the inside scoop on where to stay, where to eat and what to do when coming for the festival. So stay tuned. !!!!

(*) The perfect Weekend Gateway to enjoy art, gastronomy and many more things that are awaiting for you in Philadelphia. For further information on Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, purchase of Tickets and Package bookings including Train+Hotel+Festival, please feel free to contact me at or by phone at (646) 460-6045. Carlos
Now, as most of you that already know me or follow my blog might know by now, I was not going to hold back and avoid the center of attention. So I decided to try the Aerial Classes by Grounded Aerial, and show everyone in the room my former passion for gymnastics. Sorry but I could not help it.

You know you have to do what you have to do in this world to promote yourself and get your message through, or at least that is what I thought. It is amazing what two, …. ok ok three glasses of red wine do to your body and inhibitions. CM