“Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;-Edgar Allan Poe
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.”
After spending some time in Washington D.C. we took the 45-minute train ride from D.C. to Baltimore, Maryland. Since then, I have spoken to so many people about this trip, and they always ask, “why did you go to Baltimore?,” as if there was nothing to do there. Well, I disagree because we spent a few nights there with plenty to see and do, plus some! We stayed in a fairly central location downtown at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Baltimore Inner Harbor where we could walk to several points of interest, however we utilized uber to reach some of the further attractions. The first night when we arrived at the hotel we walked to Edgar Allan Poe’s grave which was about 13 minute walk. Walking after dark to see the grave of America’s famous horror storyteller seemed pretty apropos. I grew up reading Poe, so we geeked out at various locations throughout the weekend. Have you read Poe, maybe you studied The Raven in school? I remember being fascinated by his writings when we studied his work in school.
Our visit to Baltimore was in mid-January so much of the city and museums were closed for the season, including the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum. We decided to take an uber to visit his house anyway, to check it out from the outside. Our uber driver was so sincere he questioned us once we arrived, in a pretty sketchy part of town, “…are you sure you want to get out, here?” We could hear the concern in his voice, he then offered to wait for us while we snapped some pics of us posing outside the Poe House. He welcomed us back and asked us the importance of the house, being from Nigeria he had never heard of Poe, so we shared a little bit about the writer. After a brief literature lesson, he dropped us off at the Lexington Market.
I love visiting markets everywhere we go, Lexington Market is a large indoor market that has been in operation since 1792, with food and shops from all over the world. As always, I found my way to some sweets at Berger’s Bakery to try their famous Berger Cookies. These are basically light shortbread-like cookies topped with a thick layer of fudge icing- so yummy! We also ate “around the world” by snacking on food from various vendors. With full tummies we walked to the Walters Art Museum and George Peabody Library that is near the Washington Monument (this one is much smaller than the one in D.C.). The Peabody Library is the most beautiful library I have ever seen (and we just went to Trinity College Library in Dublin!). The decor is light and bright, the windows on the ceiling let in all the natural light that exposes the most beautiful sun beams. The pictures just do not do it justice. A great surprise to us was there was a temporary Poe exhibit at the library, so we were able to read about Poe and see his original hand written poem, “The Bells.” On our way back to the hotel we stopped to see The Baltimore Basilica, which is the nation’s first catholic church, and Poe’s headstone since the night before the cemetery had been locked. And all of that was in our first day!
On our second full day in Baltimore we spent our time in Inner Harbor and historic Fells Point. Inner Harbor is home to the National Aquarium, the USS Constellation which has tours but we just admired from the boardwalk, and a bunch of waterfront cruises and restaurants. The aquarium was pretty expensive ($40) in comparison to others we have visited, but they have a dolphin show, monkeys (yes, monkeys at an aquarium, so weird, right?), penguins, and a really neat Jellyfish exhibit that pretty much makes up for it.
The Fells Point Neighborhood is adorable, we spent a couple hours meandering through the cobblestone streets window shopping (many of the shops seemed to close in the off season) and popped into the few places that were open. We stopped in Pitango Bakery and Cafe on the waterfront for some afternoon charcuterie and one of the best pastries I have had: a cruffin with vanilla cream. Holy cow, I could go for like eight of those right now! After some more walking around, we had dinner at Thames Street Oyster House where we had the best Crab Cake of our lives, an exquisite squash souffle that I still dream about, and, in my opinion, a not-so-great oyster shooter (a shot glass with an oyster, beer, some kind of liquor, with an Old Bay rim): but when in Rome, right? We ended our second, and last, night imbibing local beers at the The Horse You Came in on Saloon. “The Horse” is Baltimore’s oldest saloon, America’s oldest continually operated saloon, and the only bar in Maryland to exist before, during and after prohibition! Wait, it gets better! This bar was the last known location of Edgar Allan Poe before his mysterious 1849 death in Baltimore. So crazy to think we were at the same bar as Poe on his last day alive.
Our last day in Baltimore we took an uber to the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Site. The entrance fee is $15 for adults; there is a nicely sized welcome center with videos and interactive exhibits, but the most exciting thing to see is the base of the flag that inspired ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ that was preserved and is still on display! When Francis Scott Key witnessed the attack on the fort, and after seeing the flag still flying the next morning, he was allegedly moved to write the iconic song in 1814, which later became the national anthem in 1931.
After an interesting American History lesson, we decided to end the trip with a stop by the Harpoon Brewery for the most amazing pretzels – I mean beer- I have ever had. I honestly do not even remember the beer…those pretzels stole the show. They are huge, warm, soft, and topped with a variety of toppings and sauces of your choice (Parmesan cheese, beer cheese, variety of mustards etc.). A great way to end an exhausting, short, trip.
We got to see so much, and truly experienced the city despite our short stay, but there are a few additional places to visit while in Baltimore that we did not get to visit:
- Walters Art Museum
- Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower is located near the Lexington Market and Poe’s Grave. This tower has 15 floors of art with a clock tower at the top that is free to visit or you can take a tour for $5 at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm;
- The Baltimore Conservatory and Botanical Gardens were unfortunately closed the days that we were in town, but this looks beautiful!
Is there a city you have visited that others told you was not worth visiting? If so, what was the city, and what are your thoughts? I hear this about Baltimore, but I am so happy we ignored the naysayers and visited anyway!
And just for fun, some of my favorite Poe quotes:
- We loved with a love that was more than love.
- Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
- I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.
- It is by no means an irrational fancy that, in a future existence, we shall look upon what we think our present existence, as a dream.
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