This past weekend I had the chance to go to Baltimore to watch my favorite baseball team play the Orioles in Camden Yards. It was a wonderful time, well worth the toil of getting there. Sidney and I traveled 500 miles, drove through monsoon-like pitch dark conditions, stayed the night in a questionable hotel in Fredricksburg, Virginia, and then finally arrived in Baltimore in a neighborhood filled with gang members and costumed weirdos.
But like I said, it was worth it.
After arriving in downtown Baltimore on Saturday morning we went down to the famous Inner Harbor. We walked around the water and watched the numerous joggers run by us. We took a stroll through the Little Italy district. We had drinks at a tapas place. Sitting on the restaurant’s outside deck by the water we had a fabulous and relaxing lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. After we concluded our meal by splitting a slice of vanilla bean cheesecake we went to the place Sidney couldn’t wait to visit…the aquarium.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore is supposed to be one of the top aquariums in the country. But let’s get real, if they charge $35 per person for entry (which Sidney graciously paid) it better be good. You enter the structure and immediately come upon a gigantic pool filled with sharks, fish, and a gigantic turtle. From there you walk up a ramp system to the various levels of the aquarium all the while maintaining a view of the ground level pool. The aquarium houses birds, frogs, snakes, and turtles. And fish. Lots of fish. Big fish, small fish, exotic fish, colorful fish, and really ugly looking fish. Also, the National Aquarium boasts the crowd-pleasing dolphin area. Numerous dolphins swim in a tank that allows visitors to watch them from stands or through underwater windows.
The aquarium has so much to see, including a rain forest. If you go, give yourself ample time. Also, bring your patience with you…kids take over the place.
After checking in at our hotel we walked the rather short distance to Camden Yards. Upon entry to the stadium we hit up the strip of bars and street vendors outside the stadium’s outfield entrance. Each establishment had an outdoor standing section that filled up with patrons lined shoulder-to-shoulder. We were right in the middle of it. Wearing our Mariner teal in a sea of orange we were treated very well by the Orioles fans up until the moment we left. It was then that one intoxicated individual said some inappropriate things to Sidney.
We walked in Camden Yards and admired the ballpark. We took in the center field and right field views. We walked on Eutaw Street, the famous divider between the warehouse and the outfield bleachers. We finally settled in our seats on the lower level of the first base line. On a pleasant night in Baltimore we watched the Mariners top the Orioles. Robinson Cano and Dustin Ackley both hit homers and Fernando Rodney recorded the save. After snapping a few photos to commemorate the win, Sidney and I walked out of that stadium on Saturday evening smiling that the visitors took one from the home team.
On Sunday morning, I went to church at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (called the Baltimore Basilica for short). Located just a block from our hotel it was a great experience celebrating mass in such a beautiful masterpiece. With the 8 a.m. mass only running about 45 minutes I spent some time giving myself a tour of the church when the service concluded.
I returned to the hotel and after breakfast Sidney and I headed back to Camden Yards. I purchased heavily inflated tickets from a scalper and then we headed back to the vendor/bar area. Sidney and I sat down in the famous Pickles Pub and had a drink. After scarfing down a hot dog I bought from one of the vendors, the two of us went inside the stadium. In a truly fun part for me, Sidney and I went all the way down to the first row right off of the Mariners dugout and watched the pitching staff go through agility drills. Felix Hernandez and Fernando Rodney both ran right past us and a few other players came by and signed autographs. It was cool to get such an up close view of the actual playing field.
Instead of going up to our third deck seats we decided to stand on the right field deck. For the whole nine innings we watched over Nick Markakis’ shoulder from one of the best views in Camden Yards. Although the angle was great the outcome was not. The Orioles shut out the Mariners, 1-0. After the game we headed back to the car as a 500 mile drive awaited us. We made it back to Myrtle Beach a little before 2 a.m. on Monday morning.
Camden Yards vs. Turner Field – As I visited both ballparks for the first time this summer, here is a very brief comparison: Turner Field is nicer inside. It also has a better fan experience in terms of video board elements, on-field entertainment, and P.A./Music presentation. Camden Yards tops Turner Field in location. Camden is in a neighborhood that has charm. It also has a vendor/bar/tailgating feel that you don’t get at every MLB ballpark.
BronyCon – Baltimore was the site of the “My Little Pony” National Convention (Called BronyCon) this past weekend. As I mentioned above, we saw hundreds of people dressed in ridiculous costumes…most of them were adult dudes.
Baltimore was great. I had the opportunity to see a city and a state I had never been to, take in a couple games in a ballpark I always wanted to visit, and watch my favorite team on the road. Thanks so much to Sidney for going with me and putting up with my nerdiness. Where will we go next? Don’t Blink.