Baltimore Spring Learning Moment 2022

Apr 29, 2022 | Trip Recaps | 0 comments

Day 1 • April 22, 2022

Outside photo of Mick O'Sheas Irish Pub in Baltimore, Maryland. O'Sheas is a traditional Irish venue serving classic pub fare, brews & whiskeys, with Celtic music on weekends.

Outside photo of Mick O'Sheas Irish Pub in Baltimore, Maryland. O'Sheas is a traditional Irish venue serving classic pub fare, brews & whiskeys, with Celtic music on weekends.

Here I go again, friends! It’s time for yet another Learning Moment back to Baltimore, which is known by locals as the charm city! Last summer, I didn’t get to see everything, so it’s time for another awesome visit! To begin the day, I left home at 5:30 AM, and took Uber to Amtrak’s Route 128 Station in Westwood, where I took Amtrak’s Acela to Baltimore. For the first time, I was in first class, which was an experience. The train was sold out, and I noticed that the first class seats were exactly the same as the business class seats. The attendants were Louis and JD, and they were very helpful throughout the journey. The broccoli and cheddar cheese omelet was served on real plates, with real silverware and napkins, and was actually okay. Unlimited juices and coffee were available, and the Wi-Fi unfortunately was very slow. I relaxed, worked on my laptop, and used my phone. I tried the Spanish pork stew for lunch, which was worse than the omelet, and enjoyed one Sam Adams.

I arrived into Baltimore’s Penn Station, located right downtown on Charles Street, at 1:25 PM, and took Lyft to the Home 2 Suites, where I stayed last summer. The room was pretty much the same, and after dropping my stuff off, I took Lyft to City Limits, a bar where I went to last summer. The crab dip, which is known in Baltimore, as well as the tuna steak sandwich were great, and the Natty Boh beer was great. After a late lunch, I took a lyft back to the hotel and relaxed until about 8:00 PM. I unpacked, got used to the room, and got comfortable. For dinner, I went to Mick O’Shea’s Irish pub, located a half a block from the hotel. While the potato wontons, which are like potato skins and the fish and chips with old bay were amazing, it was great to talk with three locals Irine, Jeff, and Chris, all of whom are from Baltimore. They actually had live music, which was great as well. I got to bed at 10:00 PM, and tomorrow it will be great to get my MTA transit passes, to meet my friend Sarah, and to try jumbo lump crab cakes, which is the ultimate Baltimore staple!!

Day 2 • April 22, 2022

Outside photo of Union Craft Brewery. Located within the Union Collective business hub in the Medfield neighborhood of Baltimore, MD, Union Craft Brewing makes great beer and great company. With reverence for tradition and place, they brew beers that unite old and new ideas, the science and craft of brewing, and boldness and balance of flavor.

Outside photo of Union Craft Brewery. Located within the Union Collective business hub in the Medfield neighborhood of Baltimore, MD, Union Craft Brewing makes great beer and great company. With reverence for tradition and place, they brew beers that unite old and new ideas, the science and craft of brewing, and boldness and balance of flavor.

What an awesome first day in the charm city! To begin the day, I enjoyed coffee at the hotel, and made my way to the MTA transit store, where I loaded my seven-day pass on my smart trip card, as well as bought my MARC commuter train tickets to Washington, DC. Baltimore has so much construction, so I used a combination of the Nearby Explorer GPS app and AIRA, which is a service that connects people to remotely located agents who can assist with any task. After loading my passes, I went down to Starbuck’s on East Pratt Street, which is on the waterfront, right near the Inner Harbor. The weather was warm, about 75 degrees. I then took my first MTA bus ride, on bus 94, out to the Hampden neighborhood, where I met my old friend Sarah who I hung out with last summer. We went to Union Craft Brewery, relaxed outside, and enjoyed beers. It’s great that the beers are so much cheaper than Boston! The potato wedges were awesome as well.

After the brewery, Sarah drove me back to the hotel. On the way back, I got drinks at Urban Cellars Liquors, and we checked out Royal Farms, a popular Baltimore convenience store, so I could learn how the kiosk worked when I get food there at some point this week. I relaxed at the hotel, and at about 6:00, took the bus out to Koco’s Pub, one of the most well-known places for crab cakes! The double crab cake platter, which was two 11-ounce crab cakes, certainly lived up to its name, and it came with three sauces: tartar sauce, yellow mustard, and horseradish sauce. It was amazing, and I’ll be trying crab cakes at two more places during this week. The staff was super nice, and the Resurrection beer was awesome. After dinner, I made my way back downtown, and went to Peter’s Pourhouse, a bar that I visited last summer, enjoyed a 32-ounce beer, and had one more drink again at Mick O’Shea’s, before getting back to the hotel at 11:30. Tomorrow will be great, including hanging out with Carmen, a friend from the Couchsurfing web site and visiting Lexington Market, taking the Light Rail and/or Metro Subway, going to Dinner at an Italian restaurant, and enjoying the nightlife in Federal Hill or Fells Point!!

Day 3 • April 23, 2022

Photo of Light Rail train near convention center in Baltimore. The origins of the Light Rail ultimately lie in a transit plan drawn up for the Baltimore area in 1966 that envisioned six rapid transit lines radiating out from the city center. By 1983, only a single line was built: the "Northwest" line, which became the current Baltimore Metro Subway. Much of the plan's "North" and "South" lines ran along right-of-way that was once used by interurban streetcar and commuter rail routes—the Northern Central Railway, Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Electric Railway and Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad—that still remained available for transit development.

Photo of Light Rail train near convention center in Baltimore. The origins of the Light Rail ultimately lie in a transit plan drawn up for the Baltimore area in 1966 that envisioned six rapid transit lines radiating out from the city center. By 1983, only a single line was built: the "Northwest" line, which became the current Baltimore Metro Subway. Much of the plan's "North" and "South" lines ran along right-of-way that was once used by interurban streetcar and commuter rail routes—the Northern Central Railway, Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Electric Railway and Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad—that still remained available for transit development.

Today, I had coffee at the hotel, and met up with Carmen, a friend who I met on the Couchsurfing web site. We drove to Lexington Market, the premier food and shopping destination in Baltimore. It’s a big building full of shops and food booths, and it reminded me of Quincy Market in Boston. It was a warm day, and there were a lot of people smoking weed outside! At the market, I ate at the Dancing Potato, and they have big potatoes with various toppings, and each potato is a city or a state. I had the Baltimore potato, with crab meat and old bay, which was great. The Italian sausage was also great. I also took home cookies from the Berger Bakery, and this cookie recipe has been in Baltimore for 100 years!

After walking around Lexington Market, Carmen and I checked out the Light Rail transit system, and I took my first ride! We rode down to Camden Yards, where the Baltimore Orioles play. The Light Rail reminded me of the one in Denver, Colorado, and the stop announcements were on point. It’s much more reliable than the Green Line in Boston. We had a few drinks at Pickles Pub, which was laid back. I got back to the hotel at about 3:30, and Sarah, her boyfriend Sohail, and I grabbed a drink at Mick O’Shea’s again, right near the hotel. This time, we sat outside, which was great. For dinner, I took the Charm City Circulator, Baltimore’s free shuttle bus system, to Sammy’s Trattoria, an Italian restaurant in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore. The wine and the flounder with a side of pasta, olive oil, and garlic were great, and the staff was more than helpful as well.

After dinner, I decided to venture to Fell’s Point, a lively neighborhood. One thing about Baltimore that I’m learning is that you have to be in the exact place at a bus stop, or the bus drives right by, which happened to me once! I went to Max’s Taphouse, which was great, and I tried some other bars: the Rockwell, Moby’s, Rodos, and Barley’s Backyard. All of the bars were actually clubs, with very loud music. Max’s was okay to chat at, but the other bars were impossible to hear anything, but it was still great to check out the area. I took a lyft back to the hotel, and got back at 1:00 AM. Tomorrow, I’m going to the Towson neighborhood to meet a new friend Chris.

Day 4 • April 24, 2022

Outside patio of Brass Tap. In 2007, three business partners and friends from the restaurant world created a vision for the "Ultimate Beer Bar." They recognized the explosive growth in the craft beer market and appreciated the simplicity of operating a beer bar verses a full service restaurant and began creating The Brass Tap

Outside patio of Brass Tap. In 2007, three business partners and friends from the restaurant world created a vision for the "Ultimate Beer Bar." They recognized the explosive growth in the craft beer market and appreciated the simplicity of operating a beer bar verses a full service restaurant and began creating The Brass Tap

Wow! What an awesome day in Towson! To start the day, I took a 40-minute bus ride to Towson, which, as I learned, is a different city, located about 10 miles from Baltimore. Chris, an amazing and free-spirited friend who I met on the Couchsurfing web site, met me there, and our first stop was Charles Village Pub and Patio for brunch. It was a beautiful day outside, about 75 degrees. The cream of crab soup and the crab cake sandwich, two Maryland staples, were amazing, as well as the unlimited drinks for $12! After that, we went to the Towson Town Center, a four-level mall. It was great to learn about all of the stores, to enjoy coffee at Starbuck’s, and to explore the area. Chris has lived in Baltimore for a while, and really enjoys it.

Later that afternoon, we hung out for a few hours at the Brass Tap, a bar within the Towson Town Center. The ciders were great, then we got lost getting to the Kenthouse Irish pub for dinner. They had great Irish music, and we enjoyed more drinks, chicken fingers, and my Reuben and her fish and chips were amazing. Chris said that she had an absolute blast, and I did as well. After the Kent House Irish pub, I took the bus back, and got to the hotel at about 10:00. Tomorrow, I’ll be taking my first Metro subway ride, enjoying crab cakes in an area called Linthicum Heights, and other great surprises!!

Day 5 • April 25, 2022

Photo of large crowd outside at night enjoying Power Plant Live. Locals and visitors alike love the never-ending energy at Power Plant Live!, a cool district of bars, restaurants and entertainment venues located just blocks from the iconic Inner Harbor. Catch a groove with some live music, meet friends at a nightclub or beer garden, solve mysteries in an escape room or challenge yourself to an evening of indoor axe-throwing. There’s no shortage of fun here.

Photo of large crowd outside at night enjoying Power Plant Live. Locals and visitors alike love the never-ending energy at Power Plant Live!, a cool district of bars, restaurants and entertainment venues located just blocks from the iconic Inner Harbor. Catch a groove with some live music, meet friends at a nightclub or beer garden, solve mysteries in an escape room or challenge yourself to an evening of indoor axe-throwing. There’s no shortage of fun here.

Today, after sleeping in because of Sunday’s awesome day, I took the bus to Attman’s Deli, a place where I went last summer, and it’s also the best deli in Baltimore. The pastrami sandwich and western fries were more than amazing, and the staff were super helpful. I then walked down to the Shot Tower Metro subway station, and rode to one end of the line, Owings Mills. The Metro subway is one line, which travels from Owings Mills to John Hopkins Hospital, and it’s about a 30-minute ride, each way. I wasn’t sure what was at Owings Mills, but it sounded like a cool area. Upon arrival there, a police officer said that there was a restaurant called World of Beer, and luckily, it was right near the subway station, so it was awesome to enjoy a homemade beer, and to meet a local from Baltimore. I then took the subway back, rested for a bit, and ventured out to G & M restaurant and lounge, for yet another meal of crab cakes! Because the Baltimore light rail is under construction, I took the Light Rail from Lexington Market to Camden Yards, a shuttle to Patapsco Station, then bus 75. The double crab cake platter was similar to Koco’s pub, and the staff were great. Because the person helping me couldn’t find the bus stop, Christine, a staff member, drove me back to the hotel, which was super awesome! Tomorrow, I’m meeting with a friend Jen and we’ll be exploring the inner harbor, Federal Hill, Penn Station, eating at Chiapparelli’s in Little Italy, checking out Power Plant Live which is a complex of bars, and other great surprises!!

Day 6 • April 26, 2022

Aerial photo of Camden Yards. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a baseball stadium located in Baltimore, Maryland. It is the home field of Major League Baseball's Baltimore Orioles, and the first of the "retro" major league ballparks constructed during the 1990s and early 2000s.[7] It was completed in 1992 to replace Memorial Stadium.

Aerial photo of Camden Yards. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a baseball stadium located in Baltimore, Maryland. It is the home field of Major League Baseball's Baltimore Orioles, and the first of the "retro" major league ballparks constructed during the 1990s and early 2000s.[7] It was completed in 1992 to replace Memorial Stadium.

Today, I spent the day with Jen, who I met from the web site rentafriend.com. Jen lives in Baltimore, and she works for a company who assists people if they have any questions while navigating downtown Baltimore. We visited the Inner Harbor and she told me about Power Plant live, a complex of bars, the children’s museum, the port of discovery, and other attractions. We also walked around Camden Yards, where the Baltimore Orioles play. We enjoyed lunch at Turps Sports Bar and Restaurant, named after a Maryland sports team. Our burgers with crab dip, which is a Baltimore staple, were amazing!

After lunch, we went to Penn Station, which is much smaller than New York’s Penn Station, so I could get an idea of how it was laid out prior to my trip to Washington, DC. We then visited the Fell’s Point neighborhood, which consists of one main street, Broadway, and they have a lot of bars. We went to Lil Phil’s Tavern, Max’s Taphouse, and Abbey Burger Bistro for more beer. After more beer and chatting, we walked to Little Italy, Baltimore’s Italian neighborhood, and enjoyed dinner at Chiapparelli’s. My pesto with tortellini and grilled chicken, Jen’s eggplant parmesan, and our wine and sangria were great. After dinner, to end the day, we had one more beer at Peter’s Pourhouse, which is right near the hotel. Overall, it was an awesome day of walking, learning, eating, drinking, and enjoying a new friend. Tomorrow, I’m off to Washington, DC for the day!!

Day 7 • April 27, 2022

Interior photo of elegant tables and decor at the Prime Rib Restaurant. The Prime Rib was founded by brothers Buzz and Nick BeLer in Baltimore in 1965 — and they’re proud to still be a family-owned business. The restaurant was born from their love of 1940s Hollywood style, legendary food, devoted service and timeless sophistication — things they believe are meaningful, valuable, and transcendent.

Interior photo of elegant tables and decor at the Prime Rib Restaurant. The Prime Rib was founded by brothers Buzz and Nick BeLer in Baltimore in 1965 — and they’re proud to still be a family-owned business. The restaurant was born from their love of 1940s Hollywood style, legendary food, devoted service and timeless sophistication — things they believe are meaningful, valuable, and transcendent.

Today, after sleeping in, I went to THB Bagels and Deli, another Baltimore staple. The egg sandwich with onions, mushrooms, Swiss cheese, and old bay was great. I then made my way to Penn Station, and took the 11:30 AM MARC commuter rail train to Washington DC’s Union Station. Like last summer, the train was a double decker, and it was a relaxing ride. Since I purchased my tickets beforehand, it was an easy process. Upon arrival into Union Station, I was told that the full food court re-opened, so I had lunch at Charleys Philly Steaks. After that, I took the Metro up to Starbuck’s on Connecticut Avenue. Because of a car shortage, trains aren’t running as often as usual. After Starbuck’s, I made my way to the Madhatter, which is a laid back bar, and on the way I found out that Lucky Bar, one of my favorite bars in Dupont Circle, permanently closed! At the Madhatter, I enjoyed some DC local beers and met Jeff, who works for the government, as well as two of his friends. It was great to chat about DC, about his dodgeball league, and other stuff.

After that, I grabbed dinner with Jacqueline, someone who I met in the Welcome to DC Facebook group, and enjoyed dinner at the Daily Grill. The chowder, fish and chips, and wine were great, and it was great to learn about her experiences in DC, and that she’s going to Chicago for vacation next week. After dinner, we went to Kramers bookshop, one of DC’s most famous bookstores. I learned that not only do they have books, but it’s also a full restaurant and bar. I had a beer and talked with Annie, who was sitting next to me at the bar. She’s on vacation in DC, and she suggested that I get a dirty martini tomorrow night when I go to the Prime Rib restaurant. I made my way to Union Station and caught the last MARC train of the night, the 10:55 PM back to Baltimore, which was also a double decker train. On this train, I talked with Elizabeth, who lives near BWI airport, which was awesome. I can’t believe that tomorrow is my last day in Baltimore, which will include a trip to the Hunt Valley neighborhood, and a Learning Moment celebratory dinner at the Prime Rib steakhouse!!

Day 8 • April 28, 2022

Exterior photo of the Iron Rooster in Locust Point Maryland. Whether you’re looking for breakfast all day,  lunch,  supper or drinks,  at Iron Rooster you’ll find a new twist on traditional comfort food,  legendary hospitality,  and a real sense of community.

Exterior photo of the Iron Rooster in Locust Point Maryland. Whether you’re looking for breakfast all day, lunch, supper or drinks, at Iron Rooster you’ll find a new twist on traditional comfort food, legendary hospitality, and a real sense of community.

Today, after sleeping in, I made my way to Iron Rooster, a famous Baltimore restaurant, and I picked the location in Hunt Valley, since it was a 40-minute Light Rail ride, and like the Metro Subway, I’d be going to the end of the line! After getting lost trying to find the Light Rail station, I finally got there at about 2:00. The crab hash, which was crabmeat with fried eggs, onions, and old bay, was amazing, and Iron Rooster is also famous for homemade pop tarts, and the brown sugar pop tart was also amazing. I got back to the hotel, after the return light rail ride, at about 4:00, relaxed, packed, and made my way to the Prime Rib steakhouse. This is one of Baltimore’s steakhouses. The potato skins, which they’re famous for, the filet mignon, and creamed spinach were amazing, as well as the wine and they had piano music as well. I then made my way back to the hotel, and tomorrow, I head back to Boston on Amtrak, but not before going to another Baltimore staple, Royal Farms, for their famous chicken fingers!!

Day 9 • April 29, 2022

Outside Photo of Baltimore's Penn Station. Baltimore Pennsylvania Station (generally referred to as Penn Station) is the main transportation hub in Baltimore, Maryland. Designed by New York architect Kenneth MacKenzie Murchison (1872–1938), it was constructed in 1911 in the Beaux-Arts style of architecture for the Pennsylvania Railroad. It is located at 1515 N. Charles Street, about a mile and a half north of downtown and the Inner Harbor, between the Mount Vernon neighborhood to the south, and Station North to the north. Originally called Union Station because it served the Pennsylvania Railroad and Western Maryland Railway, it was renamed to match other Pennsylvania Stations in 1928.

Outside Photo of Baltimore's Penn Station. Baltimore Pennsylvania Station (generally referred to as Penn Station) is the main transportation hub in Baltimore, Maryland. Designed by New York architect Kenneth MacKenzie Murchison (1872–1938), it was constructed in 1911 in the Beaux-Arts style of architecture for the Pennsylvania Railroad. It is located at 1515 N. Charles Street, about a mile and a half north of downtown and the Inner Harbor, between the Mount Vernon neighborhood to the south, and Station North to the north. Originally called Union Station because it served the Pennsylvania Railroad and Western Maryland Railway, it was renamed to match other Pennsylvania Stations in 1928.

Today, before heading back to Boston, I walked to Royal Farms, a convenience store in the Baltimore area. They have many locations, and what stands out from this convenience store is that they are famous for fried chicken fingers and western fries. I got a chicken box, and actually took a Lyft back to the hotel. I knew that the café car on Amtrak isn’t worth it, so getting Royal farms for brunch worked out, before my trip back. I then packed, checked out, and took another Lyft to Penn Station. The Acela was on time, and it was packed! Every seat was taken, and business class was exactly the same as first class, except that I didn’t get any food, which was no big deal.

I got back to Route 128 station at 6:45, and got home at 7:15. Overall, Baltimore was more than amazing, this was one of my best, and I’m looking forward to visiting again at some point soon!!

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