After our rousing visit to the Capitol
, it was time to move on to city number two in Baltimore, Md. The drive was short, only about fouty minutes, and we'd worked up quite an appetite during our sprints earlier in the day. What better place to fend off those hunger pangs than at Lexington Market
, Baltimore's quintessential food market at Lexington and Paca. This market, opened in 1782, is the longest running market in the entire country.
There was a ludicrous number of vendors inside this building, from seafood to soul food to Chinese, to anything else you could think of. We split up and each found our own preferred cuisine to share with the group; I got fried chicken, Sarah got a shrimp salad sub and Joey picked up a crab cake.
I had failed to communicate the point, however, that we had come there for a specific type of crab cake. Faidley's Seafood
, inside the market, is home to probably the most award-winning crab cakes on the planet, and I was eager to sink my teeth into one. We paid $13 and change for a magnificent sphere built with all lump crab, with just enough filler to make it golden brown and keep it from falling apart. From now on, every crab cake I consume will fall into Faidley's shadow.
We made our way back to the car, which we'd parked nearby at a meter for a mere $1 per hour. This was a welcome reprieve from D.C.'s egregious, $4 per hour street parking. Funny what a short drive can do for the wallet.
At a leisurely pace, we made our way to our next stop at the National Aquarium in Baltimore
. Open since 1981, this facility houses more than 550 different species of intriguing creatures, from the sharks and rays in the main gallery pool, to the birds in the rainforest exhibit. While visitors can freely move from one level to another (as well as between adjoining buildings), the museum's layout manages to keep traffic moving on one direction, keeping the kids-running-around-aimlessly factor to a bare minimum.
This is the biggest aquarium I've ever encountered, with one building stretching five floors high, and another designated for special exhibits (like their current Jellies Invasion exhibit) and, of course, the dolphin show.
I'll be honest - the first dolphin show I was party to, took place around my time in the third or fourth grade. I remember music by Enya playing in the background, dolphins flying miles into the air... obviously a memorable experience, if I can still remember it today, a decade and a half later.
Today brought all that rushing back. The aquarium's dolphin show included a team of trainers and a very eager crowd, many of whom let out cheers upon being informed that their seats were included in the ever-popular "splash zone."
The show starred four trained dolphins, carrying out some fantastic feats of aerodynamicism. The crowd oohd and ahhd at their every move, from the kids all the way up to the seniors. Don't get me wrong, the aquarium was amazing, in and of itself - but the dolphin show was the icing on the cake.
After all this excitement, a quieter, more somber destination was in order. We found it at Fort McHenry
, south of downtown Baltimore along the Chesapeake Bay. These historic grounds are remembered as the site of the successful defense of Baltimore against the British, during the War of 1812. It was after this battle that Francis Scott Key penned the Star Spangled Banner, our nation's anthem and a mainstay at any local sporting event. The ambience at the fort was as we expected it to be - silent, respectful and a good place to calm down after a day of running around and having way too much fun.
After we grabbed a bite for dinner (which you can read about in Sarah's last post), we made a financially-minded decision and drove to Philadelphia for the night. This, of course, was last night, and we're only getting it posted now because we spent all day today doing even more spectacular things. They're on their way - hope you stay tuned.