For the last several months I have been city hopping. Not spending too long in any location to write whole posts; just enough time to see 1 or 2 things in a place, Enough time to “get away” and keep my mind busy. These trips are typically in my urban corridor – I-95 – travel. It is what makes living on the east coast a blessing to those that like all the features cities have to offer. I can take a quick drive to Richmond to see an art exhibit at the Virginia Art museum or go in the opposite direction visit Baltimore, Philly, the Big Apple. Sure, DC is great too, but with tourist season in high gear (Cherry Blossom festival, spring break and now schools getting out soon), the city can be a more trafficky than normal for this congested place. Add to this the fact that I am no longer traveling for work and I have been ready to bolt. So, like I said, I have been trying to keep busy.
Philadelphia, how I love thee. I went to grad school in the Philly area. It holds a special place in my heart. It is an underrated city too often passed over between New York and DC. It is easy to stay in city center, where you are so close to so much – a short walk to the museums, Rittenhouse Square, the city hall cross roads…plenty to eat, lots to see. I headed back a few times this year – once to take a friend to the Titanic exhibit at the Franklin Institute and another to see the orchid show at the Academy of Natural Science. For anyone that has seen the Titantic exhibit – you know what this is all about. You get a boarding ticket as you walk in and by the end of the journey (after seeing artifacts, and learning about the ship, its structure, layout and faults) you are told if you lived or died on the journey. Now, I have never been a Titanic-a-holic. I know some people are, and I imagine that many of the 20 somethings today that claim to be obsessed with the ship came at it from the movie. I can understand that to a degree – but what I do not understand is the need to take pictures of yourself on a replica of the Titanic grand staircase. Can someone explain that to me… to take a picture of yourself (or pay to have a picture taken by the professional) on a staircase replica of a ship that went down? Seems strange to me. If you want pictures – take them of the artifacts (there are lots), but please don’t smile on the fake stairs of a ship that went down in cold frigid waters sending people to their icy deaths. It seems wrong! The orchid show was filled with completely different kinds of fanatics – orchid growers. I dragged my sister with me to look at pretty flowers and fantastic arrangements (pictures to come) and we even sat in one of the lectures. I wanted to learn more about orchids to help my TWO plants flower again. And it was at that lecture where we learned that we were out of our league… the lecturer referred to the casual orchid lover as those in the audience with 10-15 plants at home! My sister and I looked at each other and choked down a laugh. Still the show was gorgeous, we bought some stuff at the flower market and enjoyed ourselves as uber-casual observers of those with bright green thumbs!
Baltimore, close to DC but oh so different. It is famous for its Inner Harbor and rightfully so. You have a whole tourist weekend packed into that area of the city, bumping into Little Italy, Brewers Hill and Fells Point – shopping, eating, touring all connected by watertaxi and sidewalks (and regular cabs). No need to drive all over. One weekend, my sister and my niece came down for a trip to the National Aquarium and a special behind the scenes shark tour. If you have never gone behind the scenes at an aquarium, I would highly recommend it. Small groups, resident experts, special areas to visit – it is worth the money and it all goes to a good cause. Our special tour took us to the kitchen, to the bowels of the facility where the water was monitored and processed, to the lab, and even to the catwalk over the shark tank. It was funny to watch many of the kids tell the guide implicitly that they would not walk over the sharks… yet after our magic tour, every one of them did. And after the tour, we saw the rest of the place. It was my niece’s first time there, and the sheer joy in her face at the dolphin show made the day perfect. Another trip to Baltimore had me meeting up with a Jersey friend for the day…we met at Fell’s Point on the day the Boston PD locked down their city. And sitting at a restaurant for my friend, a television showed an interview with a Baltimore local – a woman who was the mother of a girl who was dating someone who went to school with one of the bombers… got that? I didn’t. Who wants that kind of attachment. I watched her story of “no I never met him.” “all the kids seem so nice.” I realized that she was in taped in the very place I was sitting, in the seat I was in. See, now I can say I sat in the seat of a woman whose daughter dated a guy that went to school with him. That is no more ridiculous. Anyway, the Boston bombings was all anyone talked about that day as we walked about Fells Point into the boutiques, galleries and bigger stores … that stuff knocks you to your core. So when my friend and I decided to go to the movies, we were completely disconnected for 2 hours… and those 2 hours were when the whole capture went down… now, our dinner waiter was happy to fill us in while we ate fantastic Hawaiian food and we chatted our relief. A city filled with strangers cheering for a city hundreds of miles away filled with people they really did not know.
Sometimes it’s nice to live so close to so much… and coming up, I have a fun filled weekend in New York (I have Broadway shows to catch up on). I have not been “home” since MLK Day so it is time!