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el2995 Baltimore - A travel report by USC
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Baltimore,  United States - flag United States -  Maryland
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el2995's travel reports

Greater Baltimore Area

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Baltimore (pronounced Ball-mer by the locals) in and of itself is an interesting city to visit, with lots of history and a myriad of things to see like Fort McHenry, the Maryland Science Center, the Baltimore Aquarium, the Inner Harbor area, the Railroad Museum, the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Medical Center and a variety of intriguing old cemeteries and brick and brownstone buildings (including the longest continuous stretch of row homes in the country along Wilkensen Avenue.) But there are some other interesting places just outside the 695 Baltimore Beltway.

Favourite spots:
Just a short drive southwest of the Beltway on Route 40 is the Patapsco River State Park, which offers wooded picnic areas and a scenic hiking trail down to the river, especially during fall when the maple trees are ablaze with color. The colors of the sugar maples are a bit more dramatic as you head south to Columbia, which is a modest city with a rural character that has a sizeable and popular shopping mall. A short drive down the (Interstate) 95 takes you to the town of Jessup, which is known more for its large and famous early-morning fish market that its prison. Down near the junction of Hwy 1 and Hwy 32 in the town of Savage is Savage Park, which features a converted mill that houses a variety of antique and craft shops. In the same area is the army’s Fort Mead, which has a small indoor museum and some outdoor static displays of tanks, missiles and artillery. Cantonsville has a rather quaint and somewhat aged downtown, but more intriguing is the rustic Ellicot City nearby.

What's really great:
My favorite diversion is a trip to Glen Burnie (Baltimore Beltway Exit 4A) to Select-Fire, an indoor firing range on Holsum Way that rents submachine guns (HK MP5, Uzi, Thompson, Colt 635 9mm SMG, Swedish Type-K) which will run about $45 for a rental and two or three loaded magazines; they used to have a British Sten (toughest magazines to load) and a Ruger 10/22 converted to select-fire that was both fun and much cheaper to feed back in the days where you’d buy the ammo separately. Note that because of the efficient ventilation system, the range feels like a meat locker in winter. In the way of consumables, I would have to say Utz potato chips, cheese steaks and beer-battered onion rings from Mister G’s on Route 40 (Edmundson Avenue) and crab cakes. I really enjoyed the rare snowstorms and seeing the Maryland Air National Guard A-10 Tank Killers flying training missions near Belair to the north.

Nightlife:
The Block (on Broadway Ave. in downtown Baltimore) is a haven for strip joints, though it transitioned from topless and sometimes bottomless establishments to merely pasties and G-strings before I left the East Coast. The angle played at the clubs was that the dancers would mingle with the gentlemen in the audience between dance sets and try to get them to buy them a twenty-dollar drink, which would theoretically entitle the gentleman purchaser to some…well, shall we just say ‘man-handling’? Of course, I can’t vouch for that. I spent my time at the club talking to a rather plain and over-weight mother of one who was nervous about going on stage topless for the first time out of financial necessity. She told me her life (hard luck) story then took the stage and awkwardly danced in a pink teddy to Bon Jovi’s ‘Cowboy’, doing the inaugural dropping of the top midway through her performance (which seemed to sag from that point on.)

Restaurants:
Windsor Inn in Windsor Mill (not far from Catonsville off of the 695) has the best (bar none) crab cakes in the greater Baltimore area; made from the famous Maryland blue fin crab, they are exceedingly light and fluffy (not hard and oily like the ones you get in Baltimore’s Harbor Place) and melt in your mouth. Windsor Inn also does the traditional crab feast, where a large tray of steamed crabs dusted with Old Bay crab seasoning are dumped before you on the butcher paper-covered table top and you proceed to bludgeon them with little wooden mallets and chow down. Try Mister G’s for a traditional greasy spoon diner.

Published on Friday August 9th, 2002


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