Sunday, March 23, 2008

Baltimore, not the complete Hellhole I was expecting! (Part 1)

My oldest friend (not oldest age-wise but oldest as in longest continuing friendship -except for this 5 minutes in high school when I closed her locker door in her face as a joke while she was trying to get her books but then she was late for class and she call me a bitch which probably isn't particularly funny to you but if you knew this friend you'd know that until college she had only cursed like 3 times in her life, that time she called me a bitch being one of them, so it was a big deal to get such a response and now we all look back and laugh about it) turned 23 on the 19th! She went to undergrad in California. So for the last 4 years, I really only saw her a handful of times a year. Then she moved to Baltimore to get her Phd at Hopkins just as I moved to DC. I was so excited because I thought I would see her all the time, but actually I still rarely ever see her because until this past weekend Baltimore scared the poo out of me. I just never made the effort to visit because I have an aversion to getting mugged and shot. However, this past weekend was her birthday weekend, which I have not celebrated with her since we were in high school, and I was feeling kinda bad about never visiting. So I took the plunge. This weekend Search for J Street is reporting from Bmore!

To be honest, most of Baltimore is the miserable war zone that I imagine, but there are these few blocks that run up and down the city that are just amazing! So cute and historical and safe seeming. I wasn't mugged or raped once. Julia pays about the same in rent that Erin and I pay, but her rent buys her a place in the Dupont-esque neighborhood of Baltimore, this place called Mt. Vernon. There's lots of museums and monuments and boutiques and swanky places to eat all around her. (No for real, Baltimore has all those things. Stop rolling your eyes and patronizing me. Get your butt up to Bmore and see what you're missing!) On Saturday before I went home, we did the touristy thing for about an hour so I could take in all the sights.

I mean first off not all cities welcome visitors like this! Baltimore hearts me. Aw Baltimore, I heart you too!

The first thing we did was go up to the top of the George Washington Monument, the first monument ever designed to honor the original G Dubbs. Unlike pretty much everything in Washington, there are no lines, very few other tourists at all actually, no security, no fences. We dragged ourselves up the 228 steps to the top, which didn't seem like a whole lot when we started off, but after about 50 steps we weren't feeling so great about the climb.

But we did manage to make it to the top! I had to sort of throw myself on the ground and pant awhile before I could enjoy it, but in the end it was totally worth it. Here's Baltimore!

And here's me taking in the rest of the sights. See, I told you, no security/railing/sense of safety in general.

Then we went to Mt. Vernon communist coffeehouse, Red Emma's. It is named for Emma Goldman. She was a radical Russian lady from the last turn of the century who did lots of interesting thing. Read her wiki article. It can be your education of the day. I didn't get any alternative literature, although there was some really interesting looking titles, but I did try their ice tea. I happen to be one of the world's pickiest ice tea drinkers, but, rest assure, Red Emma's ice tea is fabulous. Even if communists can't seem to work out all of the kinks in their government systems, they can brew a darn good ice tea.

After a stop at the Doll House Boutique (way cute yet interesting stuff) and the nation's first Cathedral (Baltimore seems to have a lot of firsts), I was off to my parent's house for Easter, but I promised Julia Search for J Street return soon to document more of her lovely city. And this time I meant it!

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