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Baltimore Trip Report - Blue Crabs and Birdland

Baltimore Trip Report - Blue Crabs and Birdland

Apr 22nd, 2008, 09:40 AM
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Baltimore Trip Report - Blue Crabs and Birdland

Now that I have thought about it for a few days, I'll try to get the essentials together of a thorough trip report. This one I will try to be briefer than the last. But I can't promise. It will be in segments.

We left on a Wednesday- fabulous flying on Wednesday's I have learned. And this was of that continued perfect pattern. We left Chicago on time at 10:30 am and it was 50 degrees. We arrived in BWI airport 15 minutes early and had to wait for the terminal attachment to get off the plane, they weren't ready for us.

The luggage came immediately and we took a cab to the Lord Baltimore Radisson for about $32 total. They let us check in early. We had a nice room, small (East Coast size)but on the 5th floor and inner courtyard faced and quiet. It was worn, but clean and had coffeepot and lots of other amenities, queen sized sleep number bed too. We left within a 1/2 hour to get lunch, walk, get directions/bearings etc.- but knew we couldn't be gone long because we had to get to Camden Yards for the 7:05 pm start game.

Now comes one of the only complaints of the trip. No one, not any of at least 10 people we meet outside or at the desk, or in the plaza or across the street, or anywhere within the stores of 3 blocks knew where anything was, including any direction for the people walkway. Much of the street areas were in construction or had water pipe breakage with hose running all over the sidewalks to convey water or power, so we found this SO puzzling. There is a people walk and skyway walkway clearly marked on SO many maps. The map the desk gave us was xeroxed badly and obsolete. The huge Mechanic Theatre across the street is abandoned, I think, empty and some of it is not boarded and with broken windows. But other than that, the neighborhood is fine, and reminds me very much of any Chicago neighborhood of dense urban nature, especially so many on the S or SW sides.

Right away, I particularly like two or three nice skyscrappers and multi-story buildings in view, and I'm rather intrigued by the Mason LEGG. This is one I don't know an iota about and will have to google it.

We, in a hit and miss fashion, walk to the Inner Harbor, and enjoy the fountains upon entry- and just then it is coolish 50's or so and I am really enjoying the water breezes, but like the warmth of the leather jacket I have brought to wear too.

On our first day or night at a new city location, we always do a chain that is painless. We see three or four and decide it may start a repeat of a pattern, as we on our last two trips started off from a California Pizza Kitchen- so we do on this one too. We do it different though. They have a Cabo crab cake appetizer, so we get that and then split a Milano. We don't want to eat much, because we want to try out the ballpark food later.

It's good, and the small crabcakes and their sauce are excellent. One of 3 or 4 different crab cakes we had on this trip. By the way, I thought I would have to go all over to get those special O's (Orbyck's) suggested, but they were right smack dab in front of the exit door from the airplane. Honest, I really did LOL! (I got them going home at the same place in the airport.)

This will continue.

Camden Yards next. So far, my most favorite ballpark of all, and I have been to about 20 of them. JUST LOVED IT! The best of both old/traditional parks and new modernized to new usages- just perfectly balanced!

On our walk, although the sky walkway is elusive, we see the "YOU ARE IN BIRDLAND" signs everywhere immediately.
JJ5 is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2008, 10:30 AM
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I'm happy you got so lucky with the weather. It was about the best you can get in Maryland last week. Looking forward to reading the rest of your report.
Devonmcj is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2008, 12:48 PM
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I remember in my first posted question upon this trip's very beginning someone told me that April and baseball and Baltimore do not go together. I told him that my Chicago baseball outside was a whole lot worse.

Well that first day was the only day that we had the correct clothing. The remaining 3 days were from 70 to 88 degrees and my SO especially, did NOT have proper warm weather clothes. And coming from 30s and 40s and snow last week, this change was felt.

But regardless, we returned to the Lord Baltimore after specking out the HarborPlace to see what we would do on the morrow, and then after an hour's rest, started to walk to the game.

We walked right in, and I right away SO liked the entrance walk ups against the big warehouse street wall with the shops etc. underneath. VERY VERY urban but at the same time "of" the city but not IN the city, like Fenway, for instance or Wrigley, where you are either IN the traffic or IN the mobscene street.

After my youngest son telephoned during this walk to tell me that I had to have the bbq at Brog's (this is my food son)- of course, we got into the briskly moving Brog's line.

I got the pork sandwich and Ken got the bbq beef sandwich. We walked to where we could get a Heinkeins and then ate far down the warehouse street at one of the few wire/mesh/metal tables we could find. Only negative I could see in that entire place, is that they don't have enough sit down tables and room for them is there.

So we got our seats in Sec. 17 and just loved them. The field would be perfect if it didn't have phony grass. But I got my first big Baltimore surprise when during the Star Spangled Banner I got a real jolt when they all start the O thing going with the "O! say can you see" part. It is COOL. The second night I was ready for it. Just loved it. It is original, and individual. Someone had a good idea.
This is hard to explain, but the Orioles' fans use the O to designate their team right in the anthem. It is respective and quiet and when that part comes in the rendition, they sing the O real, real loud all at once.

Here I should note that Orioles fans don't score real high on the friendly scale, but score very HIGH on the enthusiasm and baseball people scale. Almost as high as St. Louis and Kansas City. But they have much more of a cutting edge, and sometimes snotty for no reason derogatory against the other team attitude (quite like some W. Sox fans actually) but not as cold and as crass as the Yankees fans, by any means.

I'll get into that dynamic a bit more upon the second game, as the Yankees followed us in with a series inyo Camden Yards that started the Friday night we were there, so there were Yankees fans after Thursday everywhere you looked.

WE LOVED Brog's, although the bread was smashed and cold, the meat was fabulously cooked. I also found a stand totally on the other side of the park that sold good cocktails and had a delicious Margherita too.

We got 3 runs before we had 1 out. So that was just about it for that game. Floyd just shut them down and it was his second game in a row with only 1 or 2 hits. We won and walked back by 10:15 and slept soundly.

Next segment will be Thursday and a trip to the Science Museum, lots of exploring, finding the sky/walkway by ourselves, getting to Cross St. Market and Nick's Fish Market, walking up Federal Hill, and another baseball game. IN THE HEAT, but at least I didn't bring my coat and had something that wasn't denim or black.
JJ5 is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2008, 12:58 PM
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Glad you had a great trip. I was one of the people who warned you about it. Definitely lucked out with the weather. Will be going there in a couple of weeks so thanks for any of the help that your report will provide.
tchoiniere is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2008, 12:59 PM
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Are you sure it was Brog's and not Boog's?

The reason for the Orioles fans' attitudes is probably anger for being so bad for so long.
tchoiniere is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2008, 01:15 PM
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That is so funny because I actually asked about Boog's or Brog's or whatever. You can NOT read the sign, as it is done in cursive. MY SO insisted it was an r and I asked, and got just a stare for an answer. Boog's, it was, then.
JJ5 is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2008, 01:48 PM
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The next day we were out by 8:30 am (unusual)and found a Au Bon Pain- which did the trick with a coffee and croissant.

I don't know how far we walked. But we went to the Science Museum and spent at least 1-1/2 hours within the Body Worlds special exhibit alone. About 2-1/2 hours total for the entire. The rest of the place (outside Body Worlds) was so mobbed with schoolbus kids, as to be almost earplug level useable, but honestly was rather just a base interactive museum anyway- so we didn't need to get up close, anyway. I know, I am jaded. But the level of "entertainment" on some of these exhibits was not scientific to me. I guess I am not a kid. My SO wanted to skip some of it, as he thought it was like home made science projects. It is a kids' museum, I told him, cut them some slack.

But I really do wonder about education when the most popular thing on one floor is a type of machine that makes sounds that your digestive tract makes while eating or eliminating. You touch the can of beans and the word farting with the sound comes up. And pooping and throwing up are designated too with their own structures and sounds. With those words too. Gee, wouldn't it be a stretch to at least use the words vomiting or defecating, at the very least. Maybe at some point they could at least use the increase recognition of some new vocabulary.

Maybe my standards are just too high.

But the Body Worlds was definitely worth the time. My SO and I were both silent for about 1/2 hour on the walk up Federal Hill afterwards, thinking about seeing the clot, the stroke, the black lung of coal and cigarette smoke, the dark area of the heart under attack etc. as we both know oh so well, the friend or parent or whoever who we have left suddenly and forever with that or this exact same thing. Seeing the organ itself and what really happens, it is understanding in a completely different way- and can be very emotional.

Sounds tragic, but it wasn't- just so very respectful, especially within the thought of all those people who were so unselfish. Especially the 5 month pregnant one, and all those spinal deformation volunteers. Also the babies, and all those perfectly formed individuals so very tiny to fit upon an adult human fingernail, even down to 8 weeks of existence from an ovum.

There was a doctor who was docenting at the exploded man individual site, and we spent about 15 minutes with him. He was more than awesome and demonstrated the structure of the spleen and its brillo pad look to me in depth. It is something I have always wondered about and wanted to know more- concerning its immense proportion to bleeding in comparison to/for this tiny volume in size. Now I do.

I also asked him very specific questions upon how they isolated those blood vessels and nerves within the arm and some other spinal exhibits. It's just mind boggling. But he said he could guess but couldn't tell me. I asked him if I told him how I think they did it, would he tell me if I was right. He said he would.

So I guessed and and I was right. And no, you do NOT want to know.

But this time it was after 1pm and we thought after Federal Hill we would try to find some of the places I had marked to try for a 3 or 4 o'clock lunch/supper combination because we didn't think we would want to eat much at the ballpark later, just try the snacky or Baltimore specialty stuff.

We ask about 10 people where this or that is (from my list), by name. No one knows anything. One lady who is reading a book tells us she never heard of Nick's. Several people really try to help and don't recognize Nick's or Blue Agave or any of the places I name. From my map they are very close???

Next segment, I'll tell you all about Nick's and a fishmarket that SO reminds me of a similar one in Chicago.
JJ5 is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2008, 02:35 PM
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Really enjoying your report. One error is...the grass is real and wonderful at Camden Yards. Have a great (female) grounds keeper. Boog Powell was probably tending his booth..very large ex-slugger from the glory days of the O's. The loud "O" in the "SSBanner" is neat, since anthem was written off Ft.McHenry, so alot of pride in that. You can hear that O wherever Baltimore residents travel. It is not meant to be disrespectful.

You probably crossed the street from the Science Center to where I live (big pot of pansies on corner and more in front of my row house). Sorry people weren't more helpful with directions etc. we really are pretty friendly. Can't wait to hear more.
polaris is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2008, 04:51 PM
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>>The reason for the Orioles fans' attitudes is probably anger for being so bad for so long.<<

tchoiniere, 10 years to be precise. Plus, for the last several years we get flooded with Yankee and Red Sox fans during their series at Camden Yards. Insufferable. At least the Yankee fans must have had a crappy time last weekend.
smetz is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2008, 04:53 PM
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Oh, polaris, I was thinking that it looked real and then by the track I saw them pick up a piece and near the track, in the outfield, it surely is not.

But I don't feel to bad now. I WAS convinced the whole thing was real until I saw what I saw with my own eyes. Some isn't real. But the infield looked so good, especially that I thought it looked to striped in cutting to be fake.

But I saw some alterations on a phony part, so it isn't all real.

Oh, I just LOVE the O coordination of the Oriole's fans! We won a word series and still couldn't get all the words right or at the same time to Go, Go, Go White Sox, we're with you all the way.

I know what block you mean.

Here's a good spot to mention flowers. We were ga-ga those first two days. Because we are both avid gardeners and nada but the very earliest buds were even up a fraction when we left. And there in Baltimore were many pansies, many full bloom crab apples, and the daffodils and some tulips were just past prime, but many still in flower. Also the grass and almost all of the trees HAD LEAVES.

I kept saying, Oh look, there's forsythia in bloom etc. It was SO good to see and feel spring. AND with baseball.

I also made another big boo-boo above. Floyd was the pitcher the second night. Big C was the pitcher the first night with the 3 runs in the first inning before we had an out. Floyd was the second night. I'm just too focused on Floyd because I think he is going to be dynamite this year. He has just missed no-hitters twice, and it is only April.

Well, polaris, right after the lady with the book, I decide we better go to somewhere we can see because it is getting hot and late. So we traipse blocks to the Rusty Scupper right on the water. We enter and are immediately encountered by a hostess who tells us that their water line has been broken by construction and they can not serve us. Off we go again. We spec out some condos being built right after this. (Something we do about 5 times in the next days too- because if it has water next to it, they are building something expensive. LOL!) And we both have heavy interests in real estate anyway, we are always nosey and always check out real estate office windows if nothing else.

So off we walk again. Finally I meet a guy who thinks he knows where Cross St. market comes in and my SO strongly decides we are going to walk to it.

We get about 3 more blocks and lo and behold I spy The Blue Agave. I'm joyous as this is one I wanted to try. Then I look at the hours and it doesn't open until 5 - way too late for us because we will be getting to the game by then.

So we keep walking and find Cross St. Market. We got almost all the way through the entire thing, really scoping out the sections that look my Grandmother's store on Wenworth (Chicago)- when we come to the end and there is NICK'S.


We look like deers in highlights! One fish thrower feels sorry for us and tells us, "This side is raw, that side is cooked, eat it here by the end, drinks- stay by the bar portion." Everything you want to know in one sentence.

We go to the concrete slab part, and we both order the crab cake plate and a beer. It took awhile to prepare and we watched. The fries are hand cut with a pressure BOOOM!

The crab cake was FABULOUS. It was fluffy, with large and light crab sections and fluffy bread/herb mix and just totally scrumptious and HUGE. These were the first french fries I have had since just after Christmas and they were top notch.

We ate them on stools right by and on the slab concrete used to prepare and serve some of the items and the drinks. It was much, much like the fish market/train depot in Chicago where we go get our Christmas fish festival makings.

The prices here were great too. Fresh fish of all kinds at about 1/2 the price of home.

We left and start walking back to Lord Baltimore to change for the game. I have a sweater set on and it is HOT. I never needed the jacket I toted either.

Maybe I forgot, but we also climbed up Federal Hill and walked the entire circumference too. Everybody was very friendly there and tried to help us/answer our questions.

Right about this time, I think we both realized that we hadn't brought all that much to Baltimore to wear, but what we did bring was WAY TOO WARM. The weather was at least 25 degrees more than any of the forecasts had predicted before we left.

Game 2 and Friday- all over on the water taxi, Fort McHenry and much more next.
JJ5 is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2008, 05:00 PM
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Smetz, I take it I shouldn't tell you I am coming at the end of May for the 3 Red Sox games?

But as a baseball fan, it is sad to see the current state of the Orioles.

JJ5. thanks so far for a great trip report.
tchoiniere is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2008, 05:18 PM
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tchoiniere, your team's success is well deserved, and I hope it continues. I just hope some day we can dump our buffoonish owner, and catch up.

JJ5, it's so true (and funny) that people in Baltimore don't know how to get places in their own city. I'm glad you found Blue Agave and the Cross Street market, they're both great places. And you picked a good place to have a crab cake!
smetz is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2008, 05:27 PM
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JJ5--FYI It's Boog's and is owned by Boog Powell a former 1st baseman for the O's in 1964.
Katie2 is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2008, 06:14 PM
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hi JJ5, really have enjoyed your thread, HOWEVER, all the the grass at the Yard is real. There is a sod "farm" in center field next to the bull pens. Google Camden Yards grass!! Must tell you I lived in Chicago for 20 years (long ago now) and return often to visit daughter and her family. Wonderful city, better all the time. Next trip is in June to see my Orioles play my beloved Cubs!I guess I can't loose =D>
polaris is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2008, 07:15 PM
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Well, it sure looked phoney on the track when they use a knife and cut up and then relay pieces, I saw that.

I love interleague play- and hope to see my Sox in some of the other NL cities besides SF, St.Louis and Milwaukee- which I have seen already. I was heartsick that I couldn't do Pittsburg, but it is totally at the wrong time- impossible for me to be there.

Yes, I know now- Boog. I'm sure he and all Oriole's fans know who is, but the sign and his signature sure don't relate it. Maybe that is why I got the kind of reaction I got to that honest question when I was there. It probably, if I wasn't so thrilled with all the impressions, was not read by me as it was supposed to been "read"- rather like a "what kind of a airhead are you that you don't know who Boog is". While the the read that I took as closed, was really disgust at my ignorance.

Regardless, the Orioles fans were loyal, and what I didn't finish and meant to way above, was they get a 9 or 10 on LOUD in the underdog positions (losing 5 to 0, they thunder and beat rally). This is something that Chicago White Sox fans are a 2 at. They are screamers when they are winning, and much quieter when they are losing. NYC Yankee fans in the Bronx are screamers when they are losing too, but AT their own team.

When we were leaving the game after we won that first night there was a horribly over-served and obnoxious big mouthed W.Sox fan that was berating the Orioles and a fight nearly broke out. This is something that we don't have a lot of by percentage, but the ones we do have are the worst of the worst.

Regardless, both nights were not ruined by any iota of anything, and were stunning nights at the ballpark. I sure did like Camden Yards and wish all the ball parks were so usable as that one is. And did I mention that every single section had its own women's room with about 6 to 8 stalls, and that no one needs to walk more than maybe 100 yards at the most to get to a washroom. SO appreciated!

And there were not too many rules or any of that bunk, and people freely moved seats and all kinds of family and some corporate enjoyment could also be observed.

JJ5 is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2008, 04:06 AM
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Is it possible the reaction you got was due more to confusion than anything else? Boog is pronounced like boo, with a g at the end. Were you saying Brog, like frog? Boog's is practically a Baltimore tradition - hard to believe anyone at the ballpark hasn't heard of it. Maybe they didn't understand what you were asking about.
Devonmcj is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2008, 04:19 AM
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Any Baltimorean at the ballpark, that is.
Devonmcj is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2008, 08:10 AM
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Did you ever figure out that you were actually in Ballmer, and in Mer-ah-lun?
Dukey is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2008, 08:58 AM
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Hi again JJ5

Glad you had such a spectacular time at the games and in town.

I think I'm going to have to find the Cross Street Market and Nick's to give this place a try!!

LN is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2008, 09:01 AM
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Oh yes, Dukey, that one I got right away. I also caught an R in the wrong place almost immediately within a few words, just as we arrived in the hotel. And heard it several more times too. I knew about Boston's version, but this one is slightly different.

And yes, Devonmcj, that could have been, but I didn't pronounce it to rhyme with frog. I actually said it like the swamp- bog. Well, I didn't know him, and that was crime enough.

After Nicks, we walked back to Lord Baltimore, and rested about an hour, and then headed off to the Thursday night game. It was warm- and no coats in any way needed this evening. I had marvelous seats for this one, that I bought on ebay from a season's ticket holder. They were right up under the Press box in Sec. 39. I could put my hand on the edge and just about touch an announcer, if I had chosen to. We also had permission to get down by batting practice etc. but were too late.

This time we walked the entire park before the game to check out all the positions etc. That's when I saw the grass cut, I mentioned.

Well, back to our seats, and someone is sitting in them. We speak and they tell us that someone is sitting in theirs and won't move, but they will. We say that is ok and then sit right in front of them. We start a long conversation. (None of us had team shirts or anything on this night.)

This couple, the male, volunteers that he just took the train from D.C. to see the Sox game and is from a place near Chicago. I ask him where. He tells me, "Orland Park". Ken and I laugh. I tell him Tinley Park. (My daughter lives in Orland Park- and its about 10 blocks from my house.) So we had an absolutely delightful evening listening to this young couple (25 and 24) who are on an extended business trip (Boston and D.C. mostly) as a last duo fling because she is pregnant and due in September.

We all high five each other when we are leading 5-0. We talk about how we can lose Juan Uribe (hopefully) before much more time has pasted. His wife asks me 100 questions about houses in Tinley because she wants to move into my school district. LOL! She is a fun, fun blonde who looks like Jessica Simpson- she was really good company.

We talked to lots and lots of Orioles fans this night as well. We were winning the entire game, until the couple in back of us had to leave to catch the train back, and they tied it up on Bobby Jenks in the 9th. When it went into extra innings, I just LOVED the Baltimore enthusiasms and loudness. They even smiled, and they suddenly got a lot more friendly. Two friends near us, one from Chicago visiting his buddy from Baltimore, were SO funny. I think the Chicagoan was happy we lost so his friend could feel better.

I never feel like that, but it was cute to watch. Some NYC people to our right kept talking about the Bronx and how all this noise was annoying, and they actually left (they were maybe 50's or so- and like Cubs' fans- always moving or talking at times that had nothing to do with the game they were watching and more or less just people watching or getting food). They're were tons of Yankee fans in the park that night, getting prepped for the next night, I guess.

I was SO glad Baltimore won that Friday night game.

Anyway- we lost. 6-5 in the 10th and it was late, and we walked home by way of a CVS because SO needed a lemonade or fruit drink beverage that was not beer, and we witnessed one of those Saturday Night Live Routines between the Pakistani or Indian manager/owner and a whole gang of about 7 kids in their teens that were making his life miserable. He choose just that moment to get into a shouting match with them and shove them out of the store. They absolutely deserved it, and I think he was waiting for our presence to keep some witnesses around or something. But that whole walk home got rather scary, to me, not to my SO. There were also several people who were talking to the sky, begging, and some group with two running cars meeting at an intersection, but out of their cars-and that is something I do NOT want to see. There were also all kinds of normal and variously styled dressed people walking all about, but it was much more dicey just then, then I have been around for about 10 years.

We get back to the hotel and we actually planned some timeframes for the next day. He slept. This night I hardly slept at all. I do NOT like sleepnumber beds- they are too plastic or something- not enough air circulation.

Friday is next. And we got out later than the day before. This day we finally decide to try the Lord Baltimore Grill in the Lower Level.
And here we find a real 10 out of 10 breakfast. Outside of the Eggs Benedict I had in Toronto, this had one of the best and most reasonable at the same time breakfast choices and combos, I've ever had. I'm not much for a Lou Mitchell's type of heavy pancakes, waffles etc. etc.

I had an Italian fratata and it was totally all fresh ingredients with a top notch finely, finely grained cheese crumble on top. It was just a 10 for ingredients. There's a Starbucks right there too, around the corner- if you like it. I like the Au Bon Pain coffee's breakfast blend better myself.

So he has his omlette and E.muffin and off we go. We had an extended all day off and on Water Taxi plan for this day with Fort McHenry and also the Maritime Museum included.

Here's an outline failure, I just realized. On the previous day while roaming near Federal Hill we had also scoped out the Visionary and looked at all the outside stuff. (I knew it was what it was just from that huge bird's nest thing by one of the upstairs windows that's bigger than a balcony.)

But on this Friday we were geared on all the relative to Water Taxi stops and multi-neighborhood roams.

I'll start next post on the Inner Harbor W.Taxi dock onwards.
JJ5 is offline  

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