...or "Balmer," as the natives call it.
We started by checking in at the Hilton Homewood Suites. We were about 2-3 blocks away from the Inner Harbor Piers.
Then off to the National Aquarium, reputed to be the "best aquarium in the world." The boys are awed by how huge some of the buildings are and excited that the harbor water is actually THE Atlantic Ocean.
The main reason we went to Baltimore is because Brennan wanted to see the Dolphins for his 6th Birthday. The National Aquarium has a Dolphin show and is a huge 5 story complex spanning two buildings. It definitely lived up to its reputation, with the possible exception of the shark tanks (we all agreed that the shark exhibit at the Dallas Aquarium was cooler, as you can actually walk through the tanks via glass tunnels). Still, the Dolphin show rocked, and the Dolphins come right up to the glass to stare at you and goof around. We were amazed at how personable they were.
After stuffed salmon and friend shrimp at McCormick and Shmick's, we walked back to our hotel suite for Brennan's birthday party. We brought a Spiderman cake from a Weis grocer close to our PA apartment, and some milk from the CVS down the street. (I resisted the urge to spend thousands of dollars in the Whole Foods on the same corner. I can't wait 'till we have one close).
There followed much building of Legos and reading of Ricky Ricotta books, then everyone collapsed from exhaustion.
Day two started with breakfast at the hotel, then a drive over to the Maryland Science Museum on the other side of the harbor.
Lunch at Phillips (Lobster and crab bisque, crab and swiss panini, more shrimp. We could eat seafood every day!), then we caught the water taxi and rode across the harbor to eat ice cream at Fell's Point, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Baltimore. We browsed a few shops, listened to a great musician busking in the nearby park (listening to his CD right now...), and headed back across the harbor to go "home."
I wish we could have seen the U.S.S. Constellation but it was gone for renovation and repair, and we got back to the Inner Harbor too late to go up to the view deck at the World Trade Center. These were small loses, as Bmore is close enough that we can go back anytime and spend the day. There are about 7,000 seafood places we still need to try.
And here's a few for you Wire fans:
The Boston Examiner Building, as oft seen in Season 5.
The B-More Port Police Station, right next door to Joyce's Irish Pub, across from our hotel. Nothing actually from the show, but I thought the proximity was kinda cool.
I was digging all these Irish pubs - you felt like you should be able to look inside and see McNulty and Bunk knocking back a few after a long day of getting chewed on by Rawls and outsmarted by Avon or Marlo...
Apparently this is the building that was converted into a sound stage for much of the filming of Homicide: Life on the Street, the show based on David Simon's book that The Wire was eventually drawn from. Stumbled on this totally by accident in Fell's Point, across from the ice cream joint and Geek Shop when we were riding around via the Water Taxi in the harbor.
There were also a few spots around the harbor that I recognized from the scenes where Stringer Bell was trying to get into the real estate game in Season 4. Alas, we never wandered into the bad part of town for an Omar Little spotting. Yeah, I geeked out a little...