Saturday, December 20, 2014


Baltimore was a fun city to visit - even just the relatively small bit of it we saw in mid-December.  The city sits barely 90 minutes' drive from our home in  Pennsylvania, across the border in to Maryland.  Our hotel was based in the Inner Harbour area - the perfect spot for exploring some of the key sites during our short stay. 


Not knowing much about the area, I had no real expectations of Baltimore, but I loved it - it was very friendly with plenty to see and do.  And although its historical background was still there, it wasn't the "in yer face" version of history that was so prevalent in Boston.  Baltimore played a part in the American Revolution, and it was the city where the Star-Spangled Banner was first written as a poem by Francis Scott Key, after the city had defended its harbour from the British.  It reminded me of both Portsmouth and Cardiff Bay - areas that had historical significance, and after a period of decline had been invested in and redeveloped to their advantage.  And there were some small reminders of home - the Lightship Chesapeake, which echoes the one docked in Cardiff Bay, and the historic ships (normally) on display - the USS Constellation, the submarine USS Torsk, and the Taney, the last surviving warship from Pearl Harbor.
On our first afternoon, we visited Fells Point - an area along the harbour with a surprisingly English feel to the quaint cobbled square, brick built terraced houses, boutique shops and myriad pubs / bars.  In the fading afternoon sun it looked quite atmospheric with the twinkly Christmas lights.  Returning later that evening to sample some of the pubs was a slightly different story - there appeared to be an Ugly Christmas Sweater competition going on, with inebriated drinkers spilling out of every bar - it made for interesting people watching!

We were disappointed that the USS Constellation had been taken away for "essential repairs", but that gives us another reason to visit - perhaps in the Spring / Summer when the harbour will really come into it's own.  We also didn't make it over the Fort McHenry, partly because the ferries weren't running for the winter season.  However, we were blessed with (mostly) good weather - chilly but clear and bright.  There were enough shops close by the Harbour to keep me occupied for a couple of hours (chain stores and cute boutiques), and plenty of lovely eateries, including the too-tempting Cheesecake Factory (it would have been rude not to have sampled their fare).  We also ate a lovely meal in Flemings one evening - perfect service, perfect steaks, and some lovely little extra touches in acknowledgement of Hubby's birthday.

As it was Hubby's birthday, we also had tickets for our first American Football game - the Baltimore Ravens versus the Jacksonville Jaguars.  We also visited the National Aquarium - amazing exhibits of underwater life around the world from tiny seahorses to huge ominous-looking sharks and playful dophins.

We both loved Baltimore - and as it's relatively close to us, I have a feeling we will be back.

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