Bal'mer

Feb. 13th, 2011 08:47 am
rickps: (Travel)
[personal profile] rickps
Baltimore, what can I say? Not the place I’d choose for a company meeting in February but then I wasn’t given options. I was to attend, that’s it. Having lived about a half hour south of downtown for about 3 years back in the 1990’s before moving to San Diego, I hold a fair memory of the place.

Now the first thing you need to know about Baltimore is how to pronounce the city’s name. Imagine for a moment that you’ve got 3 marbles in your mouth (no, not the big jawbreaker sized dealies but the smaller bag of marbles sized that kids used to play with in the day). And now try to say “Baltimore” without choking on a marble. Yep, ‘Bal’mer’, that’s it, you’re a native. I hope you’ve not just swallowed a marble.

There’s a funny thing about cities in the US. The big ones, like New York, LA, and Chicago are ones nearly everyone knows something about. But then there’s the lower tiered hamlets that tend to lack memorability. These cities have their allure, certainly, and people generally know where they are. But if you ask, for example, “what’s the biggest attraction in Baltimore (pronounced not like a native)?” most folks will give you a blank stare. Such is the case of me and Bal’mer. Yes, I lived near the place for 3 years. I’ve driven through a zillion times. Yet I know nearly nothing about it. I’d heard about the Inner Harbor but never spent any significant time there. Until this week.

You can see that the Inner Harbor is Bal’mer’s attempt at drawing the tourist dollar before they fall into the morass of Foggy Bottom or venture further north to Philly or New Yawk. All the major chain restaurants, a relatively impressive aquarium, it would have been nice to wander around.

Oh, did I mention it was cold? Winter, what a concept. Being the Inner Harbor (“a direct waterway to the ocean!” I was told), the winds whip off the water. 19 degrees and windy. Bought gloves the first day. My one remaining cold weather coat, which is rapidly approaching voting age, did next to nothing to keep the chill out. My blood has indeed turned to iced tea. Did I mention that it was cold?

My employer, a large French owned conglomerate that you’ve never heard of, decided to have our ‘fun’ night at the National Aquarium. Unique place in that unlike more of its fellow fish houses, it’s relatively vertical. Up an escalator, look at the fish, up another escalator, more fish, and on and on. My fellow corporateistas speculated that we’d be catching our dinner from one of the tanks. I was doubtful. Bal’mer’s cuisine involves crab. Like the old Monty Python skit about Spam (“Spam, spam, eggs, sausage, and spam”), everything includes crab including, I think the beverages. With my seafood allergy, it looked for a while that I’d be on an enforced starvation diet for several days. However, the gods of filet mignon smiled and I got fed. The crab cakes that languished on my dinner place were not amused.

And so, on Friday, when the meetings ground to an end, I boarded a train for New York, I bid a farewell to Bal’mer. I doubt if I’ll be back any time soon. And yes, thanks for asking, it was cold.

Date: 2011-02-14 12:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrdreamjeans.livejournal.com
Bal'mer is a mixed bag for me. On one hand, I've spent many a week there on tour, playing various theaters. I enjoy the historic architecture. I strolled the city taking photos of the harbor and the Orioles ballpark ... But, you've probably heard me say before that I was mugged two blocks from the Inner Harbor, near the police station. It's affected me for years. Ever since then, I've had a hard time with visits to Bal'mer. Enjoy your time in NYC!

HUGS!

Date: 2011-02-14 09:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] simbobloke.livejournal.com
See, all I really know about Baltimore is the films of John Walters (and occasionally of Barry Levinson - "Tin Men" in particular), and the TV series "Homicide: Life on the Street" and "The Wire".

None of them really promote the city as a tourist destination. "The Wire", in particular, makes me expect to see crack dens on a regular basis.

Date: 2011-02-14 02:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] billeyler.livejournal.com
I've always thought Baltimore should capitalize more on the quirkiness of their various neighborhoods. At least the ones in the inner city that have been rehabbed a bit.

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