Monday, October 27, 2014

A Day in Baltimore

+JMJ+

Can you believe that our two year anniversary was nearly a month ago already?! This is one of the worst, unintentional blogging breaks I think I've ever taken...but at least it's due in part to how busy October has been for us - which means I have plenty of stories to share!

The hardest part about getting caught up on blogging is knowing where and when to start, but I've found in the past that the best way is to simply dive in and give it a go. So that's what I intend to do.

Because our anniversary and Michael's birthday are so close together, we decided to celebrate both with a day trip to Baltimore - but before I tell you all about it, here's a brief recap of the little ways we still managed to celebrate each of those special days:

Anniversary
Our anniversary was a quiet one spent at home as a family, but we did manage to surprise one another with a couple of unexpected gifts. I bought a festive bouquet of fall flowers to brighten up our dining room table and I snagged a box of Michael's favorite, local cookies for him. Imagine my surprise when he arrived home from work carrying a bouquet of two dozen long stem roses! Needless to say, they dwarfed the little display I had created and I was incredibly glad that I thought to get those cookies. ;) Our apartment was beautifully decorated with more fresh flowers than we've ever had at once for the next couple of weeks - or however long it took for them to dry out (because I just couldn't bear to throw them away too soon!).

Good thing I got him the cookies, right?! :P


Michael's Birthday
After last year's "28 reasons I love you" surprise for Michael's 28th birthday, I wanted to attempt something similar for his 29th. My brother-in-law had the brilliant idea of baking cookies, so originally I planned to bake 29 of them as a gift for the occasion. Then, I failed to think ahead when I bought cookies for our anniversary. The night before his birthday, we found ourselves wandering around the bakery of a local grocery store and Michael made it pretty clear to me that he had his fill of cookies for the week. I didn't know what to do, until he expressed interest in a seasonal pumpkin whoopie pie that was for sale. I quickly talked him out of splurging on it and headed back the next day to snag it for him. In case you're wondering why I didn't bake a cake, it's because Michael isn't always a huge fan of cake; he loves cheesecake, so I got him a small, personal cheesecake with fruit on top, but I also wanted to do something different from last year.

How I surprised Michael with his card when he got home

While he was at work on his birthday, I decorated with a few streamers (orange, because that meant I could leave them up until Halloween). After work I surprised him with a card and after Gabriel went to bed, I lit a candle atop the whoopie pie and sang Happy Birthday to my man. It was a quiet Friday evening at home, but we were gearing up for our trip to Baltimore the next day.

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Baltimore
I had never spent any time in Baltimore (unless you count the airport), but Michael had been to the inner harbor with his family when he was younger. We kept our plans simple so we could roll with the punches, which I think was the perfect way to approach it with an almost-14-month-old in tow.

Our basic plan was to drive into the city and park by the Cathedral. After checking out America's first Cathedral, we would walk the mile or so to the inner harbor, where we would spend the rest of our day window shopping and leisurely exploring. The only thing that had any sort of time table that we wanted to do was a boat tour of the harbor - but even that was flexible since they had tours every hour from 12-6pm.

We actually started off our trip by ducking inside an Asian noodle restaurant that we saw on the street behind the Cathedral as we searched for our parking. It was a good place to grab a quick bite for lunch and I think the staff enjoyed seeing Gabriel (I get the feeling they don't see a lot of babies in their hip, urban restaurant that caters to the young professional crowd).

Since we were behind the Cathedral, we saw a little prayer garden dedicated to Saint Pope John Paul II that we probably would have missed entirely if we had approached the church from the front. After lunch we took a brief stroll through the quiet garden before heading inside.

Outside the Baltimore Cathedral in the garden

When we went inside, they were clearly preparing for a wedding, so we said a few quick prayers, walked around the perimeter of the sanctuary to admire the architecture and side statues/devotionals, then politely took our leave. Before leaving entirely, however, we took a trip down into the crypt.


Immediately upon entering, I could not help but think (and say) that while it was really cool, this was the creepiest crypt I had ever been in. The low ceilings, the dim lighting, and the small, brick pathways lined with graves created an eerie atmosphere - so eerie that I probably would have wanted to leave immediately if the signs hadn't indicated that there was a chapel. Sure enough, we rounded the corner to find the most peaceful presence known to man - a tabernacle with a lit, red candle by its side.


I kneeled down to say some prayers while Gabriel, who was clearly not creeped out in the slightest (oh, to be a baby!), gleefully ran around exploring the brick pathways (we were the only people there at the time).


After that we were off to the inner harbor!


Gabriel fell asleep in the stroller on our walk, so we continued to simply stroll around sightseeing and window shopping until he awoke. Neither Michael nor I had thought to bring our sunglasses (which was a silly mistake), so we bought a couple of cheap pairs. Thankfully I had chosen to wear contacts that day so I could actually wear them! In addition to the sunglasses, we purchased a cute, little Baltimore crab ornament to add to our souvenir collection.


Not bad for cheap sunglasses, right? I especially like Michael's!

Beyond that, we just walked around until we got near the ticket booth for the boat tour. Gabriel woke up right at that very moment, so we went ahead and purchased our tickets for the upcoming 4pm tour.

If you ever find yourself exploring a city near the water, I highly recommend taking a narrated boat tour. Michael and I have taken a handful of these guided water tours together (in Belize on our honeymoon, on our 1st anniversary weekend trip to Miami, & on our 4th of July trip to Ocean City), and each time we've learned more about the area than we possibly could if we simply did all the sightseeing on our own. We intentionally chose only to pay for one Baltimore adventure that day and we weren't disappointed with our boat tour selection.

Look at these cuties. I'm sad to report that at some point in the past month we seem to have
lost this beloved hat!

After cruising through the harbor and learning about the area's history, we got rid of our sea legs with a short walk to the restaurant where we would be having dinner.


If I had to choose to do only one thing in Baltimore, I think it would have been the boat tour of the inner harbor (since it gives you unique views and history lessons)...but if Michael had to choose it would have hands down been to eat some good seafood. All he wanted was some good crab (which we hadn't had since the 4th of July), and Phillips delivered. My husband was a happy, well-fed customer, which was the perfect way to end our day.

All in all, it was an enjoyable, leisurely trip. Realistically, there was a lot on the harbor that we didn't do, but most of the things we passed on were things we've done not too long ago in other cities (aquariums, science museums, a Ripley's Believe it or Not museum, etc.) that would have been time-consuming. We wanted to keep our day trip affordable and relaxing, which I think we managed to do well. We both left feeling like we had a better sense of what Baltimore had to offer and didn't feel the need to come back and explore more any time soon (which I think shows that we managed to do everything we really wanted to).

Have any of you been to Baltimore? What were your favorite things to do/see?


"Maryland holds a special place in the history of American Catholicism, indeed in the religious history of the nation."
-Pope Saint John Paul II

1 comment:

  1. Yay! So glad you guys enjoyed Baltimore! Fells Point is another nice area with lots of shops and restaurants, on the water. You can take a water taxi from the Inner Harbor - which is fun in and of itself! :-)

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