My friend Bev decided to see Mariah Carey’s Christmas concert and decided to make it a weekend trip to Baltimore since she wasn’t performing in our State. To be honest making this trip wasn't the most responsible decision because both Bev and I were very busy leading up to the end of the year but who am I to turn down this opportunity?
Because we were trying to fit in one last trip by the end of the year neither Bev nor I had the bandwidth to really plan this trip we both had a couple of things that we wanted to see but it was very relaxed and c’est la vie as we prepared for this trip.
I honestly enjoy the trips that I don't have to plan. And if you don't have expectations you can't be disappointed. On this trip I didn't know much about Baltimore before arriving. I've never even seen the wire. Planned so little that we didn't even coordinate rides from the airport. Because Bev had arrived before me she told me to catch a shuttle. I didn't see signs for free shuttle so I thought I would ask some bystanders if they know about a free shuttle and to my surprise they were more than helpful with guiding me to the correct location of the shuttle.
Ultimately, after a harrowing shuttle ride, I caught an Uber to the Airbnb. Having gone from Florida where the weather was 77 degrees and sunny to landing in Baltimore at a brisk 52 degrees was a bit of a shock. And I'm not gonna lie leaving the airport there's a couple of rough patches where I was regretting not having done a little bit more research on Baltimore. But then crossed the bridge and I saw more of the downtown area and I was a little less nervous. Shortly after passing MLK Blvd. I was dropped off to my Airbnb. Now if you know anything about America, if you see MLK Blvd. I have yet to see a MLK Blvd that isn’t in the hood or hood adjacent.
I wasn't sure which of those categories we fell into. As an avid traveler, I always have my head on a swivel and am aware of what’s going on around me and I will say that though there were times to be cautious… I never felt unsafe in Baltimore. Granted… I am from Florida and there aren’t many places that can out-crazy my homestate… and yet our tourism industry is booming.
The first night we attended the Mariah Carey concert had a blast. I didn't expect to fangirl over seeing Mariah Carey in concert, but life is full of surprises. At the concert we made conversation with the people around us and jokes and had a good evening and then when we were leaving this woman approached me and Bev to compliment us on how good we looked. Then a few moments later while Bev and I were waiting for the crowd to thin the same woman approached us again to tell us that she really really looked good. And I was already feeling Baltimore but that cemented it for me.
Saturday was our first full day in Baltimore and as I mentioned Bev and I didn't really have an itinerary for this trip as we were both really busy leading up to the weekend. We had a few items we each wanted to do including seeing the Edgar Allan Poe house and eating some of the famous Maryland crab. We decided to walk to the pole house because we weren't that far and then we would catch an Uber to locust point where TikTok research had told us was a good Maryland restaurant.
When we got to the Poe house we found out that the tours needed reservations and the tours were every hour. Lucky for us we were able to squeeze in we just had to wait 20 minutes for the next tour. The Edgar Allan Poe house was one he lived in in his youth where he met his little cousin (whom he eventually married… ).
The Poe house did not have a restroom and it is located in a relatively residential area so we set out on a quest to find a bathroom. We headed in the direction of all the big buildings because of course there would be a restaurant or a shop in that direction that I could use... No! Somehow we had wandered onto the campus of the University of Maryland Baltimore and it was a Saturday during winter break so every building was closed. Most restaurants and businesses were closed. I want to say that I wasn't tempted to urinate publicly in the street but this blog is about transparency. I was very close to doing that but ultimately after walking a mile we found a coffee shop in which I could use the restroom.
One of the few things I wanted to do while in Baltimore was to visit the Peabody library. It’s one of the prettiest libraries in the country and as an avid reader… I was here for it. Unfortunately the curator didn’t update the website to say they would be closed so we got to the Mount Vernon area and had to pivot.
I recommend developing the skill of adaptability. If we hadn’t made lemonade from lemons then we would have missed the highlight of our trip. In a spontaneous turn of events, we stumbled upon the first Washington Monument in Baltimore, offering a free visit. Exploring the area, we encountered statues like General Lafayette and found ourselves unexpectedly enjoying the detour. At this point, we had been encountering a lot of closed establishments so before we Ubered to yet another area of Baltimore, we called ahead to the restaurant. Only to find out they don’t take reservations and the current wait was 45 minutes. We tried to salvage the moment and looked for restaurants in our current area. Two looked promising.
Ultimately choosing one with good reviews and a Sunday Brunch buffet named the Darker Than Blue Grille. It had reservation slots for the buffet so we would have to wait 30 minutes to our reservation time. The Silver lining is that we ended up at the second choice restaurant (a coffee shop) called Dooby’s. We killed time with hot cocoa, a scone and wifi.
When it was reservation time, we walked own to the Darker Than Blue Grille. We found out that the sophisticated restaurant was Black-owned, had a jazz musician performing during the brunch and had Bottomless mimosas. Needless to say our day was turning around. The buffet-style breakfast offered a mix-and-match soulful spread, making our unexpected adventure a memorable one. The were seated in the entry level (additional seating on the lower floor) and there were about a dozen or so other people on our floor.
So I notice some men in suits and they have the secret service earpiece. And my thought process was… wow.. The food must be good for secret service to come all the way from DC for their lunch break. Were they secret service? No. Were they coming from DC? No. Were they even on their lunch break? No.
They were on duty protecting the Mayor of Baltimore. Who was also in the restaurant enjoying the buffet. Wait! Before you judge me! This was a dude who looked like we could have gone to college together. He had a baby face, sitting at the bar watching the game and was wearing a hoodie. How was I to know!?
Anyway… we got a selfie.
If you want to know more you can read that blog because that interaction deserves its own.
After Brunch, we still had time to spare before our evening flights so we wandered back up to the Walters Art Museum. A free museum in which we took in the Ethiopian exhibit. There were several other exhibits to enjoy which is how we spent our time until we had to mosey out to the airport.
All in all, other than a crabcake and more accessible bathrooms… Baltimore owes me nothing. I will be back.