The Daily Bongo

Baltimore: November 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009 -- Evening

Good-bye Baltimore
Last night, I went to the Maryland Science Center. The observatory is open free to the public. We got to see Jupiter and four of its moon through the telescope. It was a great night for star-gazing, crisp weather and clear skies. Afterwards, I went to Hooters for some wings, and then to the hotel to get some sleep before the early morning. We drove back to Pittsburgh this morning, and I got my final set of pictures. I enjoyed my vacation in Baltimore immensely. The Inner Harbor area has so much to entertain a visitor. I did so much walking, eating, and relaxing over the past week that I feel recharged and ready for anything! I will definitely go back to Baltimore. I'm hooked.

Friday, November 6, 2009 -- Late Afternoon

Last Walk Around Inner Harbor
Today is my last day in Baltimore, and I took a final walk around the Inner Harbor area. The walk averaged around 5 miles. I have really enjoyed the Inner Harbor area. There are so many things to do in the area that you truly could spend an entire week in one area and walk from sight to sight. Tonight, I hope to go back to the Maryland Science Center to do some star-gazing. The observatory is open for free to the public from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Check out my pictures if you haven't already.

Thursday, November 5, 2009 -- Evening

da Vinci's Brain
I went to the lecture on Leonardo da Vinci given by Dr. Jonathan Pevsner at the Maryland Science Center this evening. It was an hour lecture about da Vinci and his achievements. Pevsner talked about da Vinci as an artist, engineer, war machine creator, and anatomist. The lecture was very interesting, and Pevsner talked about some of his work with the TV show, Doing daVinci. It seems there may be more shows in future, which will be really cool. Pevsner also has a website devoted to da Vinci's genius: Leonard da Vinci and the Brain. What I gathered from the lecture is that da Vinci was into all those topics, but he was also conflicted about how those items would ultimately be used. For example, even though he created war machines, he was very much a pacifist. It stirred an interest in me to learn more about da Vinci because Pevsner could really only give a short chronological overview of da Vinci's life and work, with highlights on the war machines, work with the brain and anatomy, and the Mona Lisa. Pevsner tried to center the lecture on items that were available in the da Vinci exhibit. I was surprised to learn that da Vinci had mirror writing, meaning he wrote backwards, and you could read it by holding it to a mirror. Very interesting guy, and Pevsner was an interesting and captivating speaker. What made it even better was that the lecture was free, and we all got to tour the exhibit before and after the lecture, with Pevsner available to answer questions. it was a great way to spend a portion of the evening.

Thursday, November 5, 2009 -- Afternoon

Tall Ship
I had a very busy morning. I started the day early, before 9 a.m., so I could get in a walk before sightseeing. The walk turned into one of the best experiences of the trip. As I was cruising through the Inner Harbor area, one of the guides stopped me to tell me that a tall ship from Norway, the Statsraad Lehmkuhl was going to dock in the harbor. I continued with my walk around the harbor and caught sight of the ship entering our part of the bay. The sailors were arrayed all over the first set of sails and the bow of the boat, and they were singing a song. I heard from a woman that it is traditional for the sailors on tall ships to enter harbor singing. They sang the same song all the way to the docking area. When they neared the dock, they switched to another song. I watched the docking. I was just awestruck by the experience.
National Aquarium
After the Statsraad Lehmkuhl docking, I went to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. The aquarium spans over three buildings, and most of what was on display was excellent. The only disappointing sections were the jelly fish exhibit and the Australian exhibit. The latter was disappointing because we got to see so little of it. From the outside, it looked as if the people could tour a few stories. However, it was just one floor. The aquarium portion was really cool, with tons of different types of fish, including a huge shark exhibit. The patron walks up one side of the aquarium and down the other, so you feel as if you are walking through the ocean levels and seeing the natural habitat. The dolphin show was also very entertaining. Of course, they tried very hard to make you understand the evils of man when it comes to harming the environment, but they still had the dolphins perform some tricks. The 4-D movie of Planet Earth was way cool. I have to admit, my physics background tells me that the fourth dimension is time. However, this was a 3-D show with rumbling, poking seats, and stuff that blows in your face, such as water, bubbles, and snow. I admit that the bats freaked me out. You saw them fly at you, and then you felt something like their wings touching your legs. If I didn't have those low-cut socks, I wouldn't have minded so much. But it freaked me out to feel the "wings" on my bare ankle. Now I'm resting up so I'll be prepped for the DaVinci lecture this evening. I hope we can get in! In the meantime, check out my pictures of the Statsraad Lehmkuhl and Aquarium. I also have video of the sailors singing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 -- Late Afternoon

Science Center and DaVinci
I was sightseeing on my own today since the others were attending events with the conference. I started my morning by walking around the Inner Harbor area twice. My goal was to get in some good exercise walking before I started the sightseeing walking, which has pauses and standing. I started out with the Maryland Science Center. The Science Center has a touring exhibit showcasing Leonardo DaVinci's work. I have to admit that I don't have much tolerance for shrieking, rampaging children, and the museum was filled with school groups. The kids could hunt for dinosaurs, exam cells and medicine, learn about stars and space exploration. I was impressed with the amount of things that the kids could do. However, there wasn't much for an adult. I did some of the kid tasks, but it would be nice if there were some things to also entertain adults or older kids. With that said, that's just what the DaVinci: the Genius exhibit was. It was filled with DaVinci's replications of the designs found in DaVinci's notebooks. The subject matter covered art, aeronautics, war, medicine, and general mechanics. I spent over an hour in the exhibit and loved every minute of it. I only hope I can get into the lecture given by Jonathan Pevsner tomorrow evening.
Top of the World Observation Deck
After the science center, I had lunch, and then went to the Top of the World Observation Deck on the 27th floor of the Baltimore World Trade Center. It is the tallest building shaped in a pentagon. The views were amazing. There were maps describing the buildings, and little historical placards about Baltimore were scattered all over the deck.
Holocaust Memorial
From the observation deck, I noticed that there was a Holocaust Memorial. It was not far from the observation deck, so I headed over. I am glad that I did because it was a very moving sight. The memorial started with a sculpture in 1988 and was expanded into a park with a wall that represents the trains that carried Jews to the concentration camps. There are train tracks in front of the walls that are purposefully in a poor condition to illustrate the lack of care for those taken to the camps. Through the trains, you can see lush green grass, inaccessible to the viewer. You are in the depressed area, looking out to something green and free. Very moving. Check out my pictures of the day.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 -- Afternoon

Camden Yards
I started out the day early today with an order of crispy bacon and water at Boheme Cafe, which is perhaps a mile or so from our hotel. The food was very cheap, a welcome respite from the expensive restaurants around the hotel. After breakfast, we walked towards Camden Yards while we waited for the historic ships to open for visitors. The ball park was closed, but we could easily see the field. We found out that there are tours of the ball park, which are scheduled from Babe Ruth's Museum. We trekked down the street, following the painted baseballs on the sidewalk. As we went along, we were wondering where the heck we were going because we were being lead further and further from Camden Yards and the Innner Harbor. Finally, we got to Ruth's house, in a small neighborhood, where all the houses looked like they were built in the late 1800s or so. The museum didn't open until 10 am, so we decided to head back to the ships.
Historic Ships
Four ships can be toured as part of the Historic Ships in Baltimore Harbor. They are the USS Constellation, the USS Torsk, the USCGC Taney, and the Chesapeake. We started with the Constellation. It's a ship with a conflicted origin. There was a Constellation that was built in 1757, and there is some confusion over whether the Constellation is that ship, which was decommissioned, and maybe have been restored, or if it was a new ship built with the same name in 1855. The most interesting thing about the Constellation was the lack of head room in the ship. Even though I am only 5 feet 4 inches, I felt like I was walking like a hunchback when I was below deck. The height from floor to ceiling became progressively shorter as you travelled deeper into the bowels of the ship. The ship fought in the Civil War, armed with cannons. There were no guides, but when you entered the museum, they gave you a huge, awkward phone on a lanyard to listen to an audio tour about the ship. We started out listening, but the stories were rather lame, so we gave up. The only thing I got from the audio tour was chaffing on my neck from lugging around the brick phone. Next up was the USS Torsk. This is a sister submarine to the one outside of the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. In Pittsburgh, there is someone to take you around the sub, but funds are tighter on the Historic Ships crew. We walked through the sub, marveling at the lack of space and the smell. I can't imagine what it would be like to be trapped in the sub, under water for an extended period. The smell must be overwhelming. We stopped for lunch at UNO Chicago Grill. I had never eaten in one because I thought it was just an upscale pizza shop. Actually, it's more like a TGI Friday. The food was good, the service was excellent, and they provided a kiosk with nutritional information. After lunch, we went on to the USCGC Taney. It's a retired Coast Guard cutter that was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. It was eight miles from the bombing area, but the crew quickly assembled and went to help in the fight. The ship was used in WWII, and was the command ship in the battle at Okinawa. I did take plenty of pictures through out the day.

Monday, November 2, 2009 -- Evening

I left Pittsburgh this morning and arrived in Baltimore almost four hours later. The weather was beautiful for the drive, not too hot and no rain or gloomy skies. Since I was just a passenger, I was able to sightsee on the drive. Not much to see. Mostly open farm area, with a few cows and horses. The Inner Harbor area was gorgeous. I can only imagine what the area must be like in the summer. There is a good deal of development in the area, restaurants and museums. Because we arrived at mid-afternoon, we didn't get much chance to do thorough sightseeing. Tomorrow will be the big sightseeing day. Today, we walked around the Harbor to acclimate ourselves. We had a late lunch at the ESPN Zone. The menu is not good for anyone who is watching calories or fat. However, a splurge every now and again does no harm. I got a hamburger and fries, which were tasty. We plan on going back to the ESPN Zone this evening to watch Monday Night Football. Check out my pictures from my walk.

Sunday, November 1, 2009 -- Evening

Baltimore, Here I Come!

I'll be heading to Baltimore tomorrow morning. My boyfriend is going there for a conference, LISA '09. I'm just going along for the ride and the sightseeing opportunities. I'll be staying at the Inner Harbor area for the next five days and commenting on the places and restaurants that I visit.