We left Washington DC on Saturday morning and were heading north to Niagara Falls (USA) with some planned stops in between. I say Niagara Falls (USA) as there is also a town called Niagara Falls across the border in Canada and it is Washington DC as there is a state in the US called Washington which is not close to Washington DC at all so you have to keep track of names and states. New York City is also in the state of New York which for the first time explains the song of New York, New York.
We stopped in Baltimore (about an hour from DC) which we actually planned to see the day before but there were too many things still that we wanted to see in Washington DC that this got bumped to the next day. It was interesting arriving in Baltimore as there was something going on at the stadium and everyone got dressed up and were walking around in costumes which made traffic a bit of a hassle but it was fun to watch the people. We parked a few blocks away from the aquarium and were walking to the harbour and past the Maritime museum when we decided to explore the museum. The museum isn’t big or great but you can buy tickets to board some old ships to explore in the harbour so we decided to visit an old war ship (the last surviving ship of Pearl Harbor), a lightship and a submarine. It was very interesting and also clear to me that I would never have wanted a life at sea as the ships have extremely small spaces and it has a height restriction of 6 ft so I just fitted. If you are any taller you will come back a hunchback. The sleeping quarters must be the worst with three bunks stacked on top of each other and considering the height restriction you cannot even stretch out your arm in front of you as you are on top of each other and you have a locker the size of an overnight bag. The submarine was interesting but also very frightening if you imagine you are submerged under water where if anything goes wrong the changes of survival is not great. The hatches were also smaller than on the other ships but it was a unique experience.
We arrived at the Aquarium which was extremely busy and it was a hot day. They have scheduled entry times and the queue was long but it moved quite quickly. We got tickets and had some hours to spare before we could go in so we decided to have some lunch at Dick’s Last Resort which is an interesting restaurant that prides itself on obnoxious staff and some strange manners where menus, knives and forks are just thrown on the table and once your food comes someone just walks past and drops it on the table but it was a great dining experience as the food and drinks were superb. We had a margarita with an inverted open beer in a huge cocktail glass ($20) and I practically downed the beer. I am not a beer drinker but on this hot day it was nice and refreshing and tasted really well. I had Baltimore crabby cakes ($10.99) to eat (having never eaten a crab cake before). It came with two huge side portions of spicy rice and corn – delicious!
The aquarium has a few notable features such as the rain-forest when you just arrive and the pool with stingrays, a turtle, shovelhead shark and zebra shark but it was a bit too crowded with too many children pushing and screaming so I did not enjoy it as much as the hallways are not as open and big as at other aquariums. I enjoyed the jellyfish but I think I have a new found respect for them after watching a very good documentary on them last year on the National Geographic channel.
We left Baltimore after 3pm and had to drive to Harrisburg where we were booked to sleep so there was no longer time to stop at Hershey and Lancaster as planned. We drove through York and arrived at Harrisburg after 6pm and then spent an hour trying to sort out our accommodation which I booked and paid weeks before online but they couldn’t find it so I had to call Hotels.com to sort this and I got so much attitude from the girl at the hotel (as if this was somehow my fault) that in the end I just paid cash (and quite a bit more) for another room (as they did not have the room type I booked available) and then asked for a refund from Hotels.com but what a hassle. As Murphy will say: “If anything can go wrong, it will.”