Thursday, August 8, 2013

DC & Baltimore Day 2.

I can tell already that my DC recap posts are going to take forever to finish. My husband reminded me last night that I didn't post the Day 2 recap yesterday, and he's anxiously awaiting them. So, here it is today!  (And if you missed Day 1, you can find it here.)

Saturday morning, our first stop was The Capitol!  I love The Capitol.  I used to be a Congressional intern and loved everything about it, but one of my favorite things was giving Capitol tours.  The place is SO beautiful, and there's SO much history there.  I was particularly excited to go back now that the Visitor's Center is open since it was being built while I lived there, and I had never seen it open.
The Visitor's Center was really amazing.  It's bright and airy and huge (two stories with a beautiful atrium feel) for being entirely underground.  There's an awesome museum, a huge cafeteria, and a great gift shop.  But I was so disappointed in the tour.  I don't know if they changed the tour that everyone gives or if it was because we were on a Capitol Visitor Center tour (as opposed to a Congressional staff-led tour), but there was SO much that I know was skipped.  Someone who had never been to the Capitol would notice (in fact, Donny really liked the tour), but I know that there were places we didn't see and cool stories that we didn't get told.  And since we were there on a Saturday, we couldn't get into the House and Senate galleries (although that wasn't their fault, obviously).  The building was still as beautiful and awe-inspiring as always-- I just wish we had gotten to see more of it.
Through the tunnel from The Capitol is the Library of Congress (the tunnel meant that you didn't have to go through security twice!).  The Library of Congress is probably one of the most beautiful buildings I've ever been in.  There's NOTHING simple about this place.  The ceilings and walls are all painted with murals, the staircases are intricately carved, the floor is exquisitely patterned marble...  I can't even describe it adequately.
My favorite room in the place is the reading room. (And of course my picture is on another computer, so the one from the LoC website will have to do.  Gorgeous!
I was really excited that they had a Gershwin exhibit, since George Gershwin is my favorite composer ever. They even have his Steinway piano!!
We didn't get to stick around at the LoC for too long because we had a train to catch to Baltimore.  So we walked the few blocks to Union Station (another beautiful building).  We grabbed some lunch, went in search of ponytail holders for me since I had left mine at the hotel, and shopped while we waited for our train.
I LOVE Amtrak.  The train ride to Baltimore took all of 40 minutes, and we didn't have to deal with a single bit of traffic.  There were a few stops between DC and Baltimore, but not many.  The leg room was plentiful, the wi-fi was free, and there were plugs to recharge our phones or whatever else we would have brought.  Based on what I saw from the other passengers, the food in the cafe car appeared to be good and reasonably priced, although we never made it there ourselves.  Next time we take a trip, I hope it's somewhere we can take a train instead of driving!

Baltimore itself didn't do much for me.  I did love the free bus system that they have (there's a city bus that you pay per ride but also the "Charm City Connector" that is free) which got us everywhere we needed to go.  But the city was nothing special.  The Inner Harbor is supposed to be the most beautiful part of the city, but it was SO overcrowded and stinky.
We got there around 2:30 in the afternoon, and after walking around for a little while decided that we'd like to sit down for a bit and have a drink (it was pretty warm and muggy that day) and maybe a quick bite.  Too bad that both the Hard Rock Cafe and Phillip's Seafood had over an hour wait for a table!  At 3:00 in the afternoon!  I can't possibly imagine the wait come 7 or 8pm.

The buildings along the waterfront were pretty cool.  Those two restaurants sandwiched a Barnes and Noble in a building that used to be a power plant.  Inside the Barnes and Noble, you can still see some of the original equipment.
So instead of hanging around the waterfront, we went ahead to the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum.  They had a lot of cool memorabilia about Babe Ruth and a fascinating video about the history of the Star Spangled Banner at sporting events.  It was a pretty small museum, but what do you expect in an old row house in Baltimore?
From the Babe Ruth museum, you can follow these baseballs painted on the sidewalk to Camden Yards!
... Which was literally only two blocks away.
Before we went to the ballpark, we stopped at a hotel across the street for a quick pit stop (and some air conditioned rest).  Donny all but had a stroke when he saw this chair, and I swear if he could have fit it into his backpack, he would have brought it home with us.
Our ticket to the Babe Ruth museum also got us into the Camden Yards Sports Legends Museum.  There was SO much stuff in that museum-- not just Orioles memorabilia, although that was the majority of it.  There was lots of Ravens exhibits, Maryland colleges exhibits, a huge section devoted to minor league baseball in Maryland, etc.

This is obviously not my picture (I borrowed it from baltimore.com), but it gives you the perspective 

of where the Sports Legends museum (the building in front) is in relation to Camden Yards.  

As you can imagine, there was a large shrine section devoted to Cal Ripken, Jr.
Between the museum and the ballpark, there were retired Orioles numbers in statue form including one of Donny's favorite players of all-time (and MLB-wide retired number) Jackie Robinson.
The skies were starting to look a little ominous, so we moved our party into the ballpark to hopefully find somewhere under cover in case rain arrived.  Fortunately, the powers that be at Camden Yards put in a huge bar area in right field with a roof!  So, we sat down and waited for the rain, which was looking more and more likely...
 I ordered a diet coke, and the waitress said, "Um, it's going to be huge."  I said whatever-- bring it to me.  And holy cow was she right.  See here next to Donny's normal-sized beer...
Pretty soon, the rain arrived.  It was POURING, and people started trying to get under the roof.  Many of those people were very, very wet...
And of course, that meant a delay of the game.  But the ran came through about 45 minutes before the game was supposed to start, so it was only delayed about a half hour, thankfully.
It continued to drizzle for a little bit, but we wanted to explore the stadium before the game started! Camden Yards is seriously one of the most beautiful ballparks I've ever been to.  It feels like there's so much history but new and updated at the same time.   

I haven't been to the new Yankee Stadium, so for now I can say that Camden Yards is my favorite MLB ballpark (sorry Texas friends...).

The great thing about professional sports vs. college sports is the huge variety of food options!  Donny got some cracked out hot dog while I got some Maryland crab dip.  Delicious!
With the Orioles pig!
We ended up having to leave the game a little early to catch our train back to DC, which I wasn't too sad about since the Red Sox were winning handily...  We didn't get back to the hotel until after midnight, so to say that we were exhausted was quite an understatement.  But what a fantastic day!  

4 comments:

  1. I so want to go to Baltimore! I LOVE Cal Ripken. :) I remember leaving youth group early to see his game where he broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive game streak.

    I can actually hear Donny when he saw that chair. I'm surprised he didn't have a heart attack or something. It's an awesome chair!

    :)

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  2. What a fun day! I'm sooo far behind with my posts that I'll be updating about things forever!!

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  3. I just love reading about the fun things you and Donny get to do! The first years of marriage are so sweet and special and it's awesome to hear about another couple who just seem to enjoy being in each other's company. Oh, and let's be honest - is there really ever a diet coke that's too big? ;)

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