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Published: December 20th 2015
MJ, Dave, Beth, Josh
Since we began blogging we’ve been proud that we produced our blogs in a timely fashion. We began writing this blog in the fall of 2014 and promptly got side tracked with a busy life. Personally we had mixed emotions about Merry Jo accepting a job in Baltimore because it would mean we were working in different cities and we had never done that before….nor had we wanted to. Dave would be 40 minutes away in Virginia so we thought we could make it work.
Sadly, what we didn’t know at the time was Dave’s job would end shortly after MJ went to Baltimore, his next job would take him to Newtown, PA and then to a job in Oklahoma City, OK all while MJ continue to work in Baltimore. We accepted the jobs so we needed to complete our commitment but we cannot imagine accepting jobs in different cities again. This missive is to say farewell to a city well enjoyed!
On a personal note….. Dave is a lifelong, die-hard Cleveland Browns fan (American football) and in 1995 the sleazy owner of his beloved Browns moved his team from Cleveland to Baltimore. So…….as you can imagine when someone
Tall Ships Festival
mentions Baltimore, the hair on the back of his neck stands up. We didn’t know what we would find in Baltimore and on some levels Dave was bothered by the fact that he liked this place. What a great town Baltimore turned out to be!
We’re really not sure what images are conjured up when people think of Baltimore, Maryland. Most likely it’s different for most folks. It would not be surprising if most Americans thought it to be an eastern coastal city while those from outside the confines of the U.S. might even think, “Baltimore?” Others in the States will be quick to point out the riots earlier this year. Although quite tragic, the media’s portrayal of these events should not be considered as the end-all of this city’s worth. Quite the opposite is true.
A hard-working port city, it is not on the Atlantic coast, but tucked in quite nicely in the northern part of the Chesapeake Bay. It’s a good day’s sail just to reach the Atlantic. A catastrophic fire leveled the city in 1904, so there are no truly “older” structures, at least by world standards. It burned for over 30 hours due to
non-standardized hose couplings of the fire departments….bad stuff.
A fair amount of history is associated with Baltimore as well. From how it got its name to how it got its nickname. Seems the city was named after Cecil Calvert, second Lord Baltimore
, (1605–1675), a member of the Irish House of Lords
and the founding proprietor of the Colony
and Province of Maryland
….but of course. Its nickname “The Charm City” was made up in the mid 1970’s because frankly, the city was in a bit of decaying rot and needed a PR boost in the worst way. Baltimore has come a long way in the past 40 years and really is quite charming in many ways. Baltimore is also the nation’s largest independent city. This is because it is not part of a county, like almost all other cities in the U.S. It stands alone, right next to Baltimore County, collecting its taxes and such. Odd designation, but there you have it.
Baltimore’s reputation took a hit this year with the occurrence of civil unrest, but that episode should not besmirch what this fine city has to offer. Please don’t let that delay your visit because Baltimore has many neighborhoods you will want to stroll the waterfront, enjoy
Wicked Pub Crawl Guide
A must do tour while in Baltimore
the red brick row houses, marble mansions and gleaming skyscrapers.
But we get ahead of ourselves….back in the days when America was young and the British were still considering “owning” the colonies, there was quite the battle around Baltimore and a gent by the name of Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner” after witnessing our flag still flying after a good night’s battle. He was so taken that he not only wrote the words, but also put it to the tune of an old English drinking song (can’t say if that was intentional), but it makes for a good story nonetheless.
We enjoyed being in town to celebrate the 200th
anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner. A grand festival it was, which included tall ships, military ships, an air show and fireworks. If you got tired of walking, the water taxis would take you from dock to dock viewing the historical Ft. Henry and many fine ships brought in for the event.
Other notable mentions for Baltimore is home of the world famous Johns Hopkins University, the birthplace of Babe Ruth, arguably the best baseball player of all time,
and the Preakness Stakes, which is the second leg of the Triple Crown of horse racing. And if that is not enough, the area is well known for Chesapeake Bay crabs and oysters. It really does have quite a bit going for it. In the event that you for some reason could not find enough to fill your days here, our nation’s capital is roughly and hour away down an incredibly busy interstate highway, where you can drive with tens of thousands of fellow travelers at break neck speeds or simply crawl along, depending on the time of day.
While in the area if you don't eat all the crabs you can find you will hate yourself forever....in these parts they are oh, so, wonderful.
Downtown Baltimore has several cute neighborhoods that we worked our way through. The city planners have done a marvelous job creating a scenic waterfront known as the “Inner Harbor.” Two other neighborhoods we like are Fell’s Point and Little Italy. We are told Fell’s Point has 70 plus bars and pubs. We didn’t do a count but from the look of things that may be correct.
Beautiful Row Houses
Beautiful Baltimore Neighborhoods
Beth and her husband Josh came to town to enjoy a baseball game at the famous Camden Yards A fine ball park that was the first of the retro parks built in the early ‘90’s, it is a throw back to the days of older ball fields. Good concessions abound. Alas, Josh’s beloved Boston Red Socks were undermanned and sent packing that day. Another example of a season best forgotten by Sox fans. (2014)
We took them around and even took a Segway tour. You’ve seen these tours before in many major cities. We highly recommend doing this once, as it is really quite fun. You can scoot around at a fairly high rate of speed and see a lot more than a walking tour. It takes a few minutes to get the hang of these contraptions and get your balance and legs squared away, but once you do…..you’re rocking and rolling to a good time. We covered many miles on them and got to see quite a bit of the harbor and several neighborhoods.
Our nephew Josh is a beer connoisseur and knows we are beer lovers as well so he introduced us to an app called
Da Mimmo's Restaurant- Little Italy
“Untappd”. It allows you to keep track of beers you’ve tasted and rate them so you don’t order a beer you don’t like in the future. Life is too short to drink bad beer. Maryland is full of local craft beers and so the app gets a lot of use in this part of the country.
Another weekend we signed up for a Wicked Pub Crawl through the Fell’s Point area. A fun tour as our guide was dressed as Lord Baltimore and told entertaining stories and folklore from days past. We stopped in a half dozen pubs for a scotch or a beer he told tales of Edgar Allen Poe, Billie Holiday, privateers, immigrants and ladies of the night. Well worth the time to take this tour. Seriously—worth the time....a MUST do.
Our plan was to slowly work our way through various restaurants in Little Italy as we really like trying new restaurants. We lived there more than a year and have only made it to three Italian restaurants because we love Da Mimmo’s so much and we find ourselves returning time after time. We loved ambiance, the food and loved to go on Saturday
nights to listen to Marcus Duggan at the piano. MJ even took a cooking class there! With out a doubt this always made for an outstanding evening. We will go back to Baltimore to dine at Da Mimmo’s.
One evening, sitting at the bar in DaMimmo’s was hall of fame baseball player Jim Palmer—Dave wandered off to the men’s room and came back to find MJ chatting it up with the famous baseball player. He was very gracious and spent about 20 minutes talking with us.
Baltimore provides wonderful locations for day trips and we were fortunate to explore a few of the nearby towns to include Ellicot City, Fredrick and Rohobath Beach.
In Ellicott City we went for a beer tasting and always intended to go back for the train museum but were remiss and never got around to that. In Fredrick we enjoyed the quaint shops and an amazing British Car Show. A weekend at the beach at Rohobath Beach should be enjoyed by everyone. We went during the winter and enjoyed the beaches and restaurants without the crowds. The hotel we stayed at is historic and provided the perfect weekend
It is simple really
Pick one or....more
Baltimore is very close to both Annapolis and Washington, D.C. where we enjoyed several wonderful weekends.
We would not list Baltimore as one of America’s “great American cities” but it captured our hearts and at one point we considered buying a house and staying.
If you are traveling around the U.S. it is well worth a visit. We made many friends and look forward to going back to see them in the future.
Restaurants we’ve enjoyed in Baltimore and the surrounding area include:
Da Mimmo's-- absolutely our favorite!!
La Trosca – located on the inner Harbor
Caio Bella – in Little Italy
Aldo’s – located along the waterfront
Duclaw Brewry – located in Hanover
Victoria Gastro Pub – located in Columbia
Lures Pub – located in Millersville
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