• Baltimore Summer Learning Moment 2021

    August 20, 2021 | Trip Recaps
  • Please select a day or scroll down to read entire post
  • Day 1 • August 14, 2021

    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.

    Finally, at last, after a year and a half, I’m traveling again! This time, I’m off to Baltimore, Maryland, which is known as the charm city, with my awesome friend Emily. We met at the Starbuck’s in Boston in 2018, hung out in Washington, DC, hung out a few times in Boston, and this is our first real trip together!

    I left home at 6:00 AM, and took a car service, dav el Boston Coach, to South Street Diner, a 24-hour diner near South Station. The diner wasn’t very crowded at 6:30 AM, and I had the mixed grill. The Italian sausage and the crab cakes were amazing, and I had crab cakes to get me in the mood for Baltimore, since the food in Baltimore is crab cakes. I then went to the Metropolitan Lounge, Amtrak’s lounge at South Station. Like South Street Diner, it also wasn’t crowded, I had coffee, and it was also great to catch up on work while I waited to board Northeast Regional train 99, which left at 8:40 AM.

    We boarded Northeast Regional train 99, which ends in Newport News, VA, on Track 7, and I was in business class. I booked a seat with a conference table, rather than just a tray table, so I had a lot more room to use my laptop, my phone, and other devices. The train was completely sold out, and I brought my backpack myself, and the staff at the Metropolitan lounge said that they would bring my main bag down to the train, and they almost didn’t get it to me on time! While I had people in my row the whole ride, the seat next to me was empty from Boston to New York.

    After we departed New York Penn Station, I was next to this family, and it felt very crowded! Every business class seat, and I’m sure that every other seat on the train, was taken especially after New York. This train had 9 cars: one business class car, one quiet car, one café car, and the rest were coach cars. After we departed Newark, New Jersey, I went to the café car and was going to enjoy a Sam Adams, then go back to my seat. What happened was, while I was enjoying the Sam Adams, a passenger named Anne, who was going to Quantico, Virginia but who is from New Haven, CT, sat with me and we chatted. There was another blind person in the café car named Alexandra, and Anne thought that I was traveling with her and her family, so she bought two extra Sam Adams! So, while we were chatting, I had three free Sam Adams! You can’t beat that.

    Upon arrival into Baltimore’s Penn Station at 4:05 PM, Sarah, our friend from the Couchsurfing website, met me and it was great to finally meet her after talking since February of 2020. Penn Station isn’t very big, both the Dunkin Donuts and the convenience store were closed, and there are only four gates: C, D, E, and F. It’s similar to the station in Providence, Rhode Island.

    Upon arrival at the Home 2 Suites Baltimore downtown, I was assigned room 1204, which is right next to the elevator. The hotel has 14 floors, and both the elevator and the room numbers are in Braille! The room was very comfortable! They have a small kitchenette but with no stove, two large beds, a table, and a desk, and there was plenty of space to move around. Emily arrived, after some flight complications, at 5:00 PM and we unpacked.

    For dinner, Sarah, her boyfriend Sohail, Emily, and I went to Mick O'Shea's, an awesome Irish pub next to the hotel. According to Emily, this pub closely resembles Beantown Pub in Boston. It was crowded, there’s a big bar, and many booths and tables. It was great to get to know Sarah and Sohail, to enjoy amazing Natty Boh beer which is made in Baltimore, amazing potato wontons, which were similar to potato skins, and fish and chips with Old Bay seasoning, which is a staple in Baltimore. We enjoyed many laughs, and it was awesome to kick off the week together. Sarah is a nannie in Baltimore, and is starting graduate school, which is awesome. Sohail is originally from Iran, and he and Sarah met at a bar in Baltimore. We then went back to the hotel and went to bed at about 10:00, after a long travel day.

    Tomorrow, we’ll be getting our MTA weekly passes, enjoying brunch at City Limits, going to Guinness Open Gate Brewery, having dinner at LP Steamer’s, and who knows what else!

  • Day 2 • August 15, 2021

    A photo of the Little Italy sign on scenic Pratt Street in Baltimore. Pratt Street is a major street in Baltimore. It forms a one-way pair of streets with Lombard Street that run west–east through downtown Baltimore. For most of their route, Pratt Street is one-way in an eastbound direction, and Lombard Street is one way westbound. Both streets begin in west Baltimore at Frederick Avenue and end in Butcher's Hill at Patterson Park Avenue. Since 2005, these streets have been open to two-way traffic from Broadway until their end at Patterson Park.[1] Although Lombard is also a two-way street from Fulton Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Pratt is still one-way eastbound in this area.

    Today was amazing! To start off today, we enjoyed coffee in the room, which was okay. However, it was difficult to prepare, because unlike at home, it’s actual coffee, rather than pods. The shower was amazing as well, and Emily said that the soap that they use is usually $10 a bottle in a store if you actually bought it!

    After that, we walked down to Starbuck’s, which is on Pratt Street. Pratt Street is by the inner harbor, which is one of Baltimore’s main attractions, so it was great to relax out on the patio. After enjoying our coffee, Sarah and her boyfriend brought us to City Limits sports bar, which is along Fort Avenue in the Locust Point neighborhood of Baltimore. The mahi mahi fingers, the tuna steak sandwich, fries, and beer were more than amazing! More specifically, the tuna burger was cheaper, and so much better, than Legal Sea Foods! Emily suggested that I get the tuna steak sandwich blackened, and she called it! After brunch, we drove to the Guinness Open Gate Brewery US, and this brewery is only one of two locations in the world, the other being in Ireland! It was also great, besides the beer, to feel the barrels where the beer was being made.

    After chatting and enjoying a few Baltimore blonds, we took a cat nap back at the hotel in the afternoon, and bought our weekly passes at the Charles Center MTA Metro Subway link station. It was interesting to use the vending machines, because they were a lot different than the ones in Boston, Washington DC, and other cities. For example, there were six positions, and you picked your selection, based on the particular position on the machine. We then took our first MTA bus, and met Sarah and her boyfriend at LP Steamer’s, a famous restaurant that specializes in crab, also located in Locust Point. I had cream of crab soup, which was more than amazing, and a soft shell crab and crab cakes. I learned that I actually don’t like soft shell crab, just the crab cake. We ate outside, and the natty boh pitcher was amazing as well.

    To end the night, Emily and I went to Peter’s Pourhouse, and according to Emily, this bar is similar to The Last Drop bar in Boston. We enjoyed a few 32-ounce Natty Boh beers, and they were only $6! We met a lot of amazing and helpful people, and it was great to just relax. This bar is great because we both felt safe, the people were super nice, and they were always willing to help! We got back to the room at 2:15 AM. Tomorrow, there will be more great surprises, including enjoying a crab cake platter at Italiano’s Restaurant, seeing where I worked 15 years ago at the Blind Industries and Services of Maryland apartments, having dinner at Little Italy, and who knows what else!!

  • Day 3 • August 16, 2021

    Exterior photo of Amicci's of Little Italy restaurant. Amicci’s, family owned and operated since 1991, is a Casual Eatery & Bar located in Baltimore's Little Italy, offering great food at great prices! Amicci's serves the freshest seafood and pasta dishes in Baltimore.

    Today was awesome! To kick it off, Emily and I took the Charm City Circulator’s Purple Route to THB Bagels and Deli, located near John Hopkins University. The Charm City Circulator is Baltimore’s free bus system, which travels around downtown. It was interesting that someone was drinking vodka on the bus. Emily told me that this happens everywhere, even in Boston! The garlic bagel with old bay hot sauce, bacon, fried eggs, and Swiss was amazing. At this bagel place, you order using a kiosk, so unfortunately that wasn’t accessible.

    After that, we took the bus to the Wilkins Avenue area of Baltimore, where I stayed during the Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM) training program. Since the area is rough, we only stayed for about five minutes, and we couldn’t tell whether the apartments were there or not, but it was still interesting to walk around a bit. We had lunch at Italiano’s, which is along Washington BLVD. The crab dip and the crab cake platter were awesome, and Emily’s shrimp parmesan was awesome as well.

    We took a cat nap back at the hotel, and enjoyed two bars: Supano’s and Water Street Tavern. The 32-ounce Summer Shandy was great at Supano’s, and the Guinness blond was great at Water Street Tavern.

    For dinner, we met Sarah and her boyfriend at Amicci’s of little Italy. My tortellini with Italian sausage was amazing, and we split a few bottles of wine. While the food was great, there were many complications with the wait staff. For example, the waitress got the orders mixed up, she gave us the check three times, and other interesting mix-ups. Despite that, it all worked out. We then got some beer for the room, and went back to the hotel. Tomorrow, we’re off to Annapolis, to Turp’s Sports Bar, back to Peter’s Pourhouse again, and we’ll see where the day takes us!!

  • Day 4 • August 17, 2021

    An ariel photo of the Maryland State House in Annapolis. Annapolis, Maryland’s capital city, is on Chesapeake Bay. Its historic district includes 18th-century brick houses and the domed 1700s Maryland State House.

    Today, we went to Annapolis, which is the capital of Maryland. To start off the day, we walked down to Royal Farms, a gas station in Baltimore, which also has amazing chicken fingers. The chicken fingers and the western fries, which are basically steak fries, were great, but we both learned that their coffee is awful, similar to seven eleven. To get to Annapolis, we enjoyed our first ride on the Baltimore Light Rail, which is similar to the Green Line in Boston. According to Emily, it’s much cleaner than the one in Boston, and it’s based on the honor system, so you don’t pay when you board. Ticket inspectors walk around to ensure that you have a ticket, which didn’t end up happening to us.

    We went from Camden Station to Patapsco Station, which is in the Lansdowne neighborhood. We then took MTA bus 70, and the ride to Annapolis was an hour and a half! It was also hot out today, probably about 95 degrees! Upon arrival into Annapolis, we switched from the MTA to the Annapolis transit system, and took the local bus to Gordon Biersch Brewery restaurant. The first bus actually just drove right by! It was so hot, so the air-conditioning felt great! The homemade beer and the fish and chips were amazing. We were going to walk around Annapolis more, but we were hot and tired, because of the two-hour bus trip. We took a Lyft back to Baltimore, which interestingly, was only 45 minutes, and 20 miles.

    We took a nap at the hotel, and went to Turp’s sports bar and Grill, which is on North Charles Street, near the hotel. While it was very loud because they had trivia, the burger with crab dip was amazing. To end the night, we went to Peter’s Pourhouse yet again for one more beer.

    Tomorrow, we’ll be enjoying breakfast at a Baltimore chain called Iron Rooster, Lexington Market, and I’ll be spending time with Sarah and her boyfriend by ourselves.

  • Day 5 • August 18, 2021

    An exterior photo of the entrance to Lexington Market. Lexington Market is a historic market in downtown Baltimore, Maryland, United States. The main market is housed in two large buildings on the north corners of the intersection of Paca and Lexington Streets. In the broader sense, Lexington Market encompasses both the main market and all of the shops on Lexington Street from Greene Street to Liberty Street. The main market buildings are host to small eateries and stands selling fish, produce, meat, baked goods, and candy.

    Today, Emily and I enjoyed breakfast at a local Baltimore chain, Iron Rooster. We were hoping to get the crab hash and the crab benedict, but as it turned out, they were out of both, so I had an omelet with onions and hollandaise sauce, and Emily had regular eggs benedict. We also tried the Roost Oreo tart, which was amazing.

    After breakfast, we made our way to Penn Station, to buy our MARC commuter train tickets to Washington, DC. The vending machines weren’t accessible, and the reduced fare option was practically hidden, so we had to ask someone how to find it on the machine! We then made our way to Attman’s Deli, the number one deli in Baltimore. This deli reminded me of the delis in New York City, as well as of Jim’s Deli in Boston. Even though the wait was 45 minutes, the Reuben with both corned beef and pastrami was amazing.

    After lunch, we took Baltimore’s metro, which consists of one line and 14 stations running from Owings Mills to John Hopkins University, to Lexington Market. I heard that this was the Faneuil Hall of Baltimore, so I wanted to check it out. Unfortunately, the market was closed, and the area was very rough, so we left as quick as possible, and went back to the hotel.

    After a cat nap, while Emily relaxed, I hung out with Sarah and Sohail. We went to the White Marsh Mall, and enjoyed Buffalo Wild WingsRed Robin which had a Braille menu, and one last beer at Peter’s Pourhouse back in Baltimore.

    Tomorrow, we’re off to Washington, D.C. for a day, which will be awesome!

  • Day 6 • August 19, 2021

    An exterior photo of Angolo’s Italian Restaurant in Georgetown. Angolo’s is a relaxed spot where you can come for lunch and dinner with a menu celebrating the warm spirit of Italian cuisine, while honoring the purest seasonal ingredients. Take a seat on the patio and savor a chilled glass of wine with antipasti and refreshing salad.

    Today, we had a change of scenery! We left Baltimore and spent the day in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. We left the hotel at 6:30, and took the MARC commuter train at 7:20 AM from Gate E, track 7. At Penn Station, these platforms are island platforms, with one track on each side, making it super easy to not get lost. The MARC train was a double decker train, similar to the MBTA trains in Boston. However, the trains were much more comfortable!

    Upon arrival into Union Station, we relaxed at Starbuck’s downtown and walked up Connecticut Avenue, around Dupont Circle. The weather was very hot, about 95 degrees! Because of that, the day was divided into two components: public transportation and a pub crawl, so that we could stay inside as much as possible!

    The pubs that we enjoyed included Hard Times Café in Alexandria, VA which is 15 minutes outside of Washington, D.C., Caddie’s on Cordell in Bethesda, Maryland which is also 15 minutes from D.C., Clyde’s of Chevy Chase which is near the Embassy Suites at the Chevy Chase Pavilion where I stay when I visit D.C., and the Lucky Bar, which is in Dupont Circle.

    In addition to the pubs, Emily loved the King Street trolley, a free trolley that travels up and down King Street, throughout downtown Alexandria. At Lucky Bar, we met my friend Brynne, who I met when I visited DC in 2018. Brynne is originally from Nevada, and it was great to laugh and enjoy ourselves. For dinner, we went to Georgetown, and enjoyed Angolo Italian Bistro, The gorgonzola garlic bread was amazing, along with the Gnocchi with grilled chicken, as well as wine.

    After dinner, we made our way, exhausted, to Union Station and arrived back into Baltimore at midnight. Tomorrow, my friend Tyler is coming up from Boston, for a great final weekend in Baltimore!

  • Day 7 • August 20, 2021

    An exterior photo of the entrance to the Mondawmin Mall,  a three-level shopping mall in West Baltimore, Maryland, United States. The mall was a development of the Mondawmin Corporation, a firm set up in 1952 by James Rouse and Hunter Moss under the Moss-Rouse Company.

    Today, after an awesome trip to D.C. yesterday, my friend Tyler came down from Boston. He took Amtrak, and unlike in the past, he had a viewliner roomette, which is a small bedroom. He really enjoyed it, and loved the privacy of it. We hung out in the room for a bit, and took the bus to the other side of Baltimore to enjoy Wawa, a popular gas station/convenience store down south. This is one of Emily’s favorite places, and it was great to experience it. Similar to Royal Farms and the bagel place, you had to order via a kiosk, but there were so many choices. The chicken sub was amazing, and the coffee at Wawa was way better than Royal Farms!

    After Wawa, we took the bus to the Mondawmin Mall, a small mall in Baltimore. After walking around, and Tyler enjoyed a popular cookie chain called Great Cookie, we took the metro back to the hotel. Tyler really enjoyed it, and similar to earlier in the week, the buses were still not very reliable. Tyler then checked into his room, room 1208, which was right down the hall from ours. After relaxing, we were going to go to the Towson neighborhood, but the bus times on the app disappeared as usual, so we enjoyed Peter’s Pourhouse.

    During the meal, we found out about hurricane Henry, which was going to hit the Rhode Island and the Boston areas on Saturday, so we tried to change our Amtrak tickets to leave tomorrow, rather than on Sunday. It was a bummer that we had to leave a day early, because we were looking forward to a celebratory meal at the Prime Rib, one of Baltimore’s oldest steakhouses, but better safe than sorry! We ended up on train 88, which was the same train that we were going to take back on Sunday anyway, just 24 hours earlier. At Peter’s we had beer, I had the crab cake platter, and Tyler had the crab cake sandwich, which were both awesome.

    We went to bed at about 10:00, and tomorrow we’re heading back to Boston. Overall, after a year and a half, it was an awesome adventure in the charm city!