Big City Tales

It’s a Charmed Life in Baltimore | March 16, 2012

Baltimore's Inner Harbor area aglow in the bright morning sun and clear blue sky.

As plucky Tracy Turnblad gleefully sings out the chorus of “Good Morning Baltimore” in the film version of Hairspray, it is readily evident that every day is a new and exciting adventure for her and the residents of Charm City.  Dancing around town free as a bird with her whole life ahead of her, Tracy’s voice oozes sheer joy as the day is likened to an open door, the night is compared to a fantasy and the sounds she encounters are registered as a symphony.  It is enough to make even the most melancholy among us perk up and want to visit this enchanted land and experience the magic and wonder for ourselves.  And so it was during a short two-day stay in this gem of a city that the “charmed life” was witnessed and most assuredly confirmed.

A kaleidoscope of color bounces off of the still water in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

The Inner Harbor

Busy by day and bustling at night, the Inner Harbor stretches for blocks with one picture-perfect photo opportunity after another presenting itself along the way.  In the bright morning sun, the clear and calm waters of the Patapsco River beckon the boating crowd to launch their respective crafts for a leisurely exploration of the harbor leading out to Chesapeake Bay, while those who haven’t acquired their sea legs yet choose to remain on shore in search of their daytime adventures.  And there is much to choose from!  The National Aquarium, Harborplace and the Gallery, and the Maryland Science Center offer land-locked lubbers plenty to happily occupy their time.  When the sun descends and the air turns crisp and cool at night, seafarers return to land to enjoy the comforts of shops, restaurants and other treasure troves of evening creature delights.  The Hard Rock Cafe is not hard to miss with its neon blue larger-than-life electric guitar sign flickering bright in the night sky that does its job well as a lure for all the bar flies to come gather for drink and food.  Enjoy a succulent and scrumptiously seasoned plate of crab cakes or sample other fish freshly brought in from the day’s haul while gazing at a dazzling array of coloured lights reflecting like a rainbow off of the harbor waters.

The Bank of America Building shines bright as gold in the autumn sky.

Historic Camden Yards meets Modern MT&T Bank Stadium

On the western edge of Baltimore’s downtown core are two stadiums fit for sporting fan kings and queens.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards is the home of Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles and MT&T Bank Stadium is home turf for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League.   These stadiums offer up the royal treatment with easy access from any quadrant of the city, gourmet food fair concessions that will have your mouth-watering with anticipation and leave your taste buds tantalizing with delight from the array of East coast delectables served up, and a host of amenities providing the creme de la creme of the sporting fan experience.

Baltimore Raven fans get fired up during the pre-game festivities and are ready for a BIG WIN!

Game day in Baltimore can begin with a brunch cruise in the harbor or taking part in the Mardis Gras/festival-like atmosphere outside the stadiums.  When the Ravens are playing, it’s like watching a sea of black, purple and gold waves crash upon the shore in a show of frenzy and sheer might.  Ravens’ fans LOVE their team colors and are not shy about dressing from head-to-toe in one, two or all three at a time.  And back to Mardis Gras feel for a moment, no self-respecting fan would show up in the stands without wearing their lucky beads in what colors you may ask…why black, purple and gold, of course!  Bedecked in team colors and bedazzled with team jewelry, it’s a regal experience to behold!

Camden Yards is home of the Baltimore Orioles.

The royalty theme continues with monumental and soaring statues paying homage to the sporting heroes of the past.  On the football side, a banner and statue of the legendary Johnny Unitas stand tall and proud outside of MT&T Bank Stadium.  One of the most prolific passing quarterbacks of all time, “The Golden Arm” is shown with his arm in motion ready to toss another bomb down the field for a touchdown.  Down the way at Oriole Park, hometown boy and baseball hero, Babe Ruth, stands in a dream-like state ready to raise his bat and crack yet another home run.  Not far off is Baltimore’s tribute to the player dubbed “Iron Man” for his record-breaking streak of consecutive games played.  Cal Ripken Jr.’s retired #8 is immortalized in stone, fitting for this “Rock of Gibraltar” type player who finished his career with a whopping 2,632 games to his credit.

Johns Hopkins University is a famous training ground for medical professionals of the future.

Blue Moon Cafe and the East Baltimore Cuisine Scene

Best known for its inventive specials and eclectic “rock and roll” interior design, a trip to the Blue Moon Cafe in the historic area of Fells Point will leave you feeling “over the moon” and wanting to “rocket” back for more.  Let the inner child in you guide your menu selection of Captain Crunch french toast, or perhaps your more refined side will steer you toward Maryland Crab eggs benedict.  From the sweet to the savoury, this menu has got it covered but be forewarned:  there’s no shortage on portions and there’s no shortage of full-fat and high-calorie options to drool over!  There’s no need for dieters to despair; however, healthy choices can be made without the requisite guilt, but it’s oh so worth it to give into your indulgences for a little taste of heaven served up here.

Have a hankering for something other than breakfast?  Look to your left and look to your right in the Fells Point district and you’re bound to find something that satisfies your cravings.  Be it Greek, Italian, American, Latin, Japanese or Gastropub, there are plenty of eateries to choose from including Salt Tavern, Red Star Bar and Grill, One-Eyed Mike’s and Pintango Gelato among a host of other cleverly named establishments.

By day or by night, Baltimore is certainly one charm after another and Tracy Turnblad had very good reason to jump out of bed in the morning with a song of pure joy on her lips!  Pay the city a visit to find out for yourself what all the buzz is about….

Rockin' out at the Hard Rock Cafe.

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