On our second day in Baltimore, we had a whole handful of interesting things we thought we could do. There was an exhibition of Andy Warhol paintings at the gallery up the street, a pop art/toy museum, The Baltimore Basilica (Americas First Cathedral), IMax movies at the Science center, Various Baseball museums at Camden Yard. We were pretty excited.
That is until we realized that ALL of the above choices, except the Basilica, were closed on Mondays. Pretty much everything fun was closed on Mondays. It was frustrating and bizarre, but it made sense. We were November tourists in a town that really only got visitors in the Summer.
But, in the true spirit of the trip, we made the most of it and decided to go on the tour of the Basilica. It was really neat, a monument to the true development of freedom of religion in America. It has a neo-classical look that was totally unheard of in catholic buildings, specifically designed to make it a distinctly American church. Our tour guide was this really irreverent quintessential New Yorker who seemed really "so over" the religious propriety of working in a Cathedral. In fact, the Cathedral itself in some ways, seemed tired of maintaining pomp and circumstance. The Sacristy had the usual holy cabinet dead center, but if you looked to either side, somebody was totally using it as an office, computers and all.
A few of my favorite quotes from our guide:
"This is a painting of the Baby Jesus. They say, he's blessing you, but I think he's just waving hi."
"This Bell is one of the official artifacts that make this building a Basilica. They're only allowed to ring it when the Pope is coming. Last time he was here was 50 years ago, so they're still waiting on that."
"Here's a picture of the Pope praying at this alter. He was probably thinking 'Boy this place is a dump, I can't wait to get out of here'"
She even let us touch the old vestments they had on display, which every museum worker knows is a huge no no. But an awesome no no for the inquisitive visitor.
It was a really cool building though, and it had lots of neat artifacts in it's museum, like letters from George Washington and Jewel encrusted talismans from Constantinople. My favorite part was the crypt, it was recently redone and totally architecturally awesome. Spooky!
After our cool historical tour, we were at a loss for things to do. We wandered around the city a bit, and noticed that the not-so-nice part of town creeps up surprisingly close to the nice part. It was clear that the recession had been really really unkind to this city. We also noticed that there was at a subway restaurant and at least 2 dentists offices on every block. No doctors, Baltimore only has dentists. They even have a Dentistry Museum, which was naturally closed on Mondays. Wandering around, I couldn't help but lean over and whisper to Paul "hey, Baltimore sucks."
So by 2:30, we found ourselves chillin' back in our hotel room, drinking Yuengling and watching high school kids smoke weed on the roof across the street from us.
It's so strange that you can't get Yuengling in MA. I remember the first time my New Jersey Roomate heard I didn't know Yuengling, she nearly exploded with disbelief. The next time she went home on break, she brought me a bottle. It was a nice gesture. It's a nice beer too. Pretty average!