Writing Location: Hotel Room
The rattling of the train. Condensate running down the windows. The bright lights of billboards, a sports stadium and countless skyscrapers. The scent of oil and metal. A slight burning in the
eyes from the conditioned air.
Those were the first impressions Baltimore made on me. I rode the train downtown. It was already pretty much dark outside. I was suprised by how early the sun set. The high humidity hit me unexpectedly, too. As I got off the train at, what I hoped was the right station, I couldn't believe this was downtown Baltimore. There was absolutely noone except me. At 10 pm. Even though it was a sunday, I expected Baltimore's city center to be a bit more... alive. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. There is nothing like a city to myself. I walked through dark alleyways and well-lit streets. There wasn't even a car around. I had walked for about ten minutes before I saw some people crossing the street ahead of me. and then a few cars and before I knew it I was at my hotel. I checked in and went upstairs and after a quick message to my family I fell right into bed and didn't wake up until my alarm clock made me.
After a good night sleep I felt revived and totally motivated to inspect Baltimore. But first I inspected my hotel room. I'm not a hotel guy. I don't usually stay at hotels but since I didn't find an adequate AirBnB or Couchsurfing option in Baltimore I allowed myself a hotel room. Seeing I don't know many hotels, I don't expect much. My room provided everything I needed: Inconceivably noisy air conditioning, a disfunctional fridge, a quarter of a role of toilette paper and the towels weren't exactly clean but at least they were whole...
... Oh wait... No, they HAD a whole, they weren't whole. But at least I had something to dry myself off with and that's good enough for me!
The breakfast was - as expected - a total disaster. There is no country in the world that does better breakfast than Germany. The bread alone puts it far ahead of every other country. While I was able to choose between 40 differently delicious kinds of bread only 20 hours ago, I now had the choice between white floppy "bread" and brown floppy "bread". I took a slice of each... they tasted exactly the same: Shit.
After the "breakfast" my mood could only improve. And it did. Baltimore is a cool city. It's not overrun and it certainly isn't too touristy. The weather is great and it's right at the sea. The city is diverse, it has many faces. You could walk miles and miles through Baltimore and you'd never be bored by the scenery. Of course I couldn't do that. I still had a full-on ligament rupture in my right foot to carry around so I had to approach Baltimore differently from how I usually approach a new city.
Usually I roughly know which places I want to check out and which direction they're in. But I don't plan a route and often I get to places I never would have gotten, if I had just gone to my destination in a straight line. Obviously, in Baltimore I couldn't do that. I had to plan the shortest route possible to get to where I wanted to go and no further. That's what I did and I did see a lot!
First off, I wanted to gain a first visual impression, an overview, of the city, so I went up the World Trade Center - built as a tribute to 9/11 - and enjoyed the view from the observation deck.
From up there I could make out all the places I was about to check out. After I went down the 27 levels in less than 20 seconds, I looked around two old battleships. One was older than the other
but both of them were in an outstanding condition. The first one was a submarine from WW2. I had never been in a submarine before so I was incredibly impressed by all the switches and levers,
whose purpose I couldn't make out. After only 12 hours in the country, the american love for guns became apparent. Two small children were placed on a massive missile in the submarine
against their will and their dad said to their mother:
"Come on, let's take a picture of the kids with the torpedo."
As I proceeded to the even older boat - a military ship from the colonial war - I arrived just in time for a colossal historic gun being fired off the top of the boat... Americans... I went under
deck and the ship was very cool. I felt like a pirate! As I checked out the captain's cabin, some guy come up to me and asked me whether I'd be okay with him taking pictures of me while I looked
at stuff. I was instantly reminded of the time I was interviewed in a colombian museum by two Colombians in Spanish even though I didn't speak a word of Spanish. In retrospect I actually can't
remember how that went down and why the hell those guys chose the only person in the entire museum without any Spanish skills to do their interview with. Anyway, the guy explained that he
needed the pictures for a photography course and that I was the perfect motive. Flattered as I was I agreed, when actually he didn't say which purpose I was perfect for. He could have made a
series of pictures entitled "Ridiculously ugly people look at things". I didn't care though.
Instead, I made my way to the next landmark on my route which was a kind of hugh chimney. After construction was completed it was the highest structure in the USA for 20 years and it had been built entirely without outside scaffolding. Holy pipe!
I took a short detour through little Italy, walked by the house which Francis Scott Key wrote the poem in which came to be the american national anthem and finally I strolled through Lexington Market.
As I returned to my hotel room I had been on the go for about seven hours and my foot was killing me. It hadn't forgiven me the detour through little Italy. I let it rest and put a cool towel on it. After my foot had swollen down a bit I went down to the pharmacy to get something to drink and I must sadly say: Softdrinks are incredibly sweet here. The diet ones are so sweet, you feel like you swallowed a pack of sugar. So I had to go for water and I had to pay the price. $5,35 for 2 liters of water when I can get 2 liters of Pepsi for $3. Water fuck?
Below are some impressions of Baltimore: