Baltimore Inner Harbor

Tony found out Tuesday afternoon that he was going to Maryland for a Wednesday meeting and asked me to go along, since it was an all day meeting. I thought since it was kind of close to family, I’d go along and try to meet up with them. It turned out that it didn’t work out, as they were out of state, but I had a good time anyway.

When we went up, I didn’t have any plans. I knew that I’d be near Baltimore and that the Inner Harbor is a nice place (thanks, Dad, also for the suggestion), so I figured I’d wander around and find something fun to do. I looked up parking and found that the MARC was cheaper (and less stressful) than finding a place to park all day. I didn’t pay attention to the fact that I could have just as easily gone to DC.

Traveling is always an adventure and this trip proved to be no exception, staring off with a bang. I read online that you can get tickets for the MARC at the stations for “list price,” but if you buy them on the train, you have to pay an extra fee. Well, the ticket machine at Laurel was broken, so I was a bit upset at the thought of having to pay almost double for the ticket. As it turns out, there is no penalty if you have to buy a ticket on the train if the train system is at fault. I didn’t realize this wasn’t just a fluke until the return trip, however.

When I got to Baltimore, I sent my aunt a picture of the harbor and asked if she had any suggestions for lunch. Even though they weren’t in town didn’t mean I couldn’t get information from them, right? She got in contact with me and got me into the National Aquarium (as well as a dolphin show), which was fantastically awesome of her and I had a really good time!

She didn’t answer right away, so I wandered around the harbor, looking at what there was to see. I can’t tell you when I was there last, I just know I’ve been there before, so as you can imagine, I don’t have strong memories of the place. There wasn’t much open…I guess because it was the middle of the week and it’s not yet tourist season. At any rate, I didn’t see that there was a lot I was interested in doing, so I was glad when I got a phone call asking if I wanted to see the aquarium (to which I enthusiastically said, “Yes, please!”).

I was given an 11:00 entrance to the aquarium and an 11:30 dolphin show. Since I didn’t really know my way around, I went pretty much straight to the dolphins. On thing that really impressed me about the aquarium was how good the signs were. I guess I shouldn’t have been, given that they want people to find stuff, but I was. I did stop by the ray room before I went to the dolphins. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a memory you weren’t quite sure was real or a dream. That’s the way my memory of the ray room was, from the last time we were at the aquarium. As soon as I stepped into the room, though, I was absolutely certain I’d been there. It wasn’t too long after having been to Virginia Beach because Mom was talking about the skates we’d seen on the pier.

I’d planned to take our “real” camera to take pictures while we were in Maryland, but I completely forgot as we were packing and my phone isn’t fast enough to take pictures to make it even worth trying. The dolphin show was pretty cool. It felt more like a school outing than a circus, which I think was to its benefit. After the show was over, I went to see the jellyfish, which I’d been encouraged not to miss. Of course, at the dolphin show, everyone was reminded of the same exhibit, which meant there were a lot of people there. I didn’t have to wait long for people to clear out, though. I’ve got my pictures from that part of the visit on Evernote (I wanted to be able to keep track of which ones were which). If you flip through, there are some notes I made on a couple of them.

After seeing the jellyfish, I went to the Australia exhibit. In one of the very first exhibits there are several lizards (I don’t remember if there are any other animals in that exhibit). There was one in particular who caught my attention because he seemed to be quite the showman. He’d run up to the glass and walk around a little before walking slowly to the back. A short time later, he’d run up to the glass again, strutting around a bit before heading to the back again. He’d walk over the top of a much larger lizard, who finally got fed up with being walked on and moved to another part of the exhibit.

One of the interesting things about the exhibits at the aquarium (by design, but still interesting) is that you’re frequently viewing the tanks from under the water level. That made an interesting reflection of this croc. The bottom part is the “real” part and the top is the reflection.

There was this fish, which was really weird looking. I thought his eyes were the weirdest part…until I saw the sign…and the second fish.

Yes, he’s out of water. Apparently, he breathes through his skin, as long as it’s moist. And how does he get on the branch, you ask? My guess is by “walking” on his fins, though I didn’t actually get to watch either of them get onto the branch (in spite of both of them being there by the time I moved on).

Eventually the tour takes you to a room where you have an underwater view of the ray room. Though that’s not where this picture was taken, that’s where I finally figured out the answer to the question, “If you could be an animal, what would it be?” I know this isn’t the clearest shot, but it’s a great example of why I think these creatures are so cool. Who wouldn’t want to be able to glide through their environment with such a seeming lack of effort? From the little bit of research I did, they don’t appear to have many predators (humans and, increasingly, sharks and whales).

After I perused as much of the aquarium as I could find, I went looking for a place to eat lunch before I had to catch my train back to Laurel. The spots right on the harbor near the visitors’ center were really expensive ($30 for lunch?), so I went over to Rusty Scupper, which was slightly cheaper. It was fairly empty and all of the staff were really attentive, which was an interesting contrast to Charlottesville (even on an empty day). The food was pretty good, but with less of the “good stuff” and more sides than I was expecting, which was kind of disappointing. The view was pretty incredible, though.

It took a little longer to eat lunch than I’d expected, so I had to hurry back to the MARC station to catch the first train back. There was a line for the ticket machine and this was when the conductor for the train said that if the ticket wasn’t acquired in time, there would be no extra charge for buying it on the train. That’s when I realized they were more flexible than I expected anyone to be (which was a nice surprise, even though I did get my ticket in time). Tony picked me up from the station within 30 minutes of my arrival, so we got to head home early, which wasn’t all good, since we got stuck in rush hour traffic on our way out of DC. It wasn’t all bad, since we stopped to eat and managed to avoid most of the worst of it.

I didn’t link all of the pictures, so if you want to see what else I saw while I was there, you can go to the album and look at all of the pictures.