Magic Gardens, Philadelphia

In my last post I proclaimed my love for chess and this untiring love landed me in Philadelphia.

A couple of years ago I started playing chess against two guys on the internet – Karl and Chris. I began playing against Chris first and then Karl decided to join the nerd party. During our chess games we’d often write short messages to each other, at first usually about the game in hand but as time went on we started asking general questions about each other’s lives.

After I’d been playing chess against them for several months, I made plans to visit America. Not with the reason to see them, but it would be a bonus if our paths could cross.

I knew they lived in Philadelphia, only a 2-hour bus ride away from New York, the city I’d be flying home from so they said I should pay them a visit on the final leg of my trip. I told them I would so they better blow the dust of their chess board!

In another context I may have felt apprehensive about meeting two guys over the internet, but I wasn’t really concerned I would be meeting two murderers who lurked in chess rooms to plan out  sadistic schemes, so I happily accepted their kind invitation and with that invitation came my introduction to Isaiah Zagar, the Mural Maker (as I like to call him)…


Inside Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Mosaics in Philadelphia Isaiah Zagar’s mosaic’s saturate the walls of Philadelphia

They were perfect hosts, taking me to see a fabulous Jazz concert at the Painted Bride Art Centre.

They knew I’d love the mosaics by Isaiah Zagar which decorate areas of the city so whilst Karl was at work Chris took me to explore his masterpiece known as the Magic Gardens. It’s such an amazing place, it made me feel like I had been transported somewhere between an Alice and Wonderland adventure and a Jorge Luis Borges novel!

Another highlight (and I believe no trip to Philly is complete without) was running up the Art Museum’s steps a la Rocky style!


Saluting Rocky!

I fell in love with their apartment, it was littered with books, and musical instruments, and on the last night I climbed onto their rooftop overlooking the whole of Philly – the building lights echoing across the night sky, whilst I snuggled into a sleeping bag. In terms of location, Philadelphia is just a 2-hours ride away from New York, yet a completely different feel so I recommend heading to this city if you have spare time during a visit to NY. It has cool little Jazz bars, combined with an arty vibe, and after meeting Karl and Chris, it’s one of those places that will always leave a warm, little memory…

Philadelphia park

Ps… I got one up on them in chess 😀



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