Baltimore and the area nearby
Shortly before the attack on
the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington
in September 2001, we had booked a 10-day trip to Baltimore and
Washington. As the days passed we wondered whether we should
be able to go. The uncertainty continued for a while - the
attacks on New York and Washington were followed by anthrax
scares, some close to Baltimore.
Less than six weeks after the attacks we flew to Baltimore as
originally intended. Once there we decided to miss our planned
trip into Washington DC, unsure how the security situation
would affect sightseeing.
The first few days were spent in and around the Baltimore area,
and were very interesting. To be fair our impression of Baltimore
and nearby Annapolis was helped by the fact that we were there
during an unusually warm and sunny spell, with temperatures
approaching 80ºF: not bad for October!
For visitors to Baltimore
one of the most attractive parts of the city must be the old
waterfront which, like many waterfronts around the world,
struggled as commercial shipping declined. After a period in
decline work started in the 1970s to modernise and improve the
area giving it a new role as a centre for visitors.
A boardwalk extends around most of the waterfront and is a good
place for a stroll, with many places to eat and interesting
things to see as you wander through the old harbour areas. We
particularly liked the Water Taxis that provide a simple way to
travel from one old shipping or landing area to another without
too much strenuous walking. They offer some of the best views of
the shoreline itself, and make it easier to understand how
important the shipping industry once was here.
Typical of the old landing areas was Fells Point, once an
embarkation place for immigrants, later a general unloading wharf
for ships from around the world, and now a good place to have
lunch overlooking the water.
Dotted along the boardwalk and surrounding areas are many things
of interest, including an old lighthouse (relocated here after
its life in service was ended) and several old ships. One of
these is the last US Navy vessel in service that was attacked at
Pearl Harbour, and close by a WWII submarine is open to
Also along the boardwalk, and spreading up into the city centre,
were a large number of ornamental fish 'sculptures'. The
background to these was not clear beyond learning that the city
had produced more than two hundred fibreglass fish, each around
three feet long and mounted on a simple stand. The models had
been decorated by a number of local artists to reflect various
themes mostly humorous but sometimes related to Baltimore
and its history. Most unusual!
Annapolis, less than an hour's drive
from Baltimore, is almost a complete contrast with an 'olde
worlde' charm about it. The Maryland State Capitol sits on a
small hill in the old town - a good looking building, smaller
than might be expected, and the scene of George Washington's
renunciation of his rank of General as he became President.
Annapolis is also the home of the US Naval Academy, the
Navy's university where would-be officers undergo a four year
training in beautiful surroundings. The grounds are open to
visitors and, after a security check, we spent time in the
Visitor Centre and the magnificent Chapel. All around the town
are the signs that this is a sailing community.
After three days in the Baltimore area it
was time to move on. Sticking to our decision not to go into
Washington DC we were recommended to the western part of
Maryland, a relatively narrow strip of land lying between
Pennsylvania to the north and West Virginia to the south. Driving
west we passed through large expanses of trees on gently rolling
hills and, since this was the Fall, we saw trees of many
different colours preparing to shed their leaves for winter. This
region is not perhaps as well known as some of the other northern
states for the colours of its autumn foliage and yet by British
standards the effect was striking, with many shades of green,
gold, orange and red stretching away into the distance.
Some of the strange fibregalls fish dotted around
The many colours of the Fall
Street in Old Annapolis, and the Chapel of the Naval
The waterfront at Baltimore