We left Pennsylvania again on day 6 of our US vacation to return to Maryland where we arrived at Baltimore (again since we had already driven by on our way to Philadelpia).

Fort Mc Henry

Before heading downtown we stopped at the edge of a peninsula overviewing the Baltimore harbour and visited the historic Fort Mc Henry. This pentagon shaped, trench surrounded fort has been constructed in the 18th century in order to protect the important Baltimore harbour.

In 1812 the young United States was involved in a war with its former power Great Britain and the British war ships arrived in the Baltimore bay to attack the city in the Battle of Baltimore.  The fort withheld the attack and saved the city.  In the morning they rose the American flag.  One American prisoner in the British fleet saw the flag rise above the fort which inspired his poem which later on became the American National Anthem.  Therefore Fort Mc Henry is also known as the birthplace of the Star-Spangled Banner.

O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

We watched the movie in the visitor center, which tells the story about the battle and the flag.  At the end you see the flag flying on the music of the national anthem in the movie after which the curtains open and you see the fort with the flag flying in front of you through the window.   An emotional patriotic moment that even I could feel as a foreigner. We strolled around in the park around the fort, visited the exhibits in the fort and viewed the harbour from the peninsula.

National aquarium

After we checked in our downtown hotel  (ugh...hotel rooms are always much smaller if you are in a city center), we headed to the Baltimore Aquarium which has a very high reputation. We might not be actively scuba diving anymore at this moment, we still adore the underwater world!

The National Aquarium in Baltimore is great and huge.  It has many displays, some rainforests, A bit of Australian bush reconstruction, a dolphinarium (which will close as they prepare an outdoor dolphin sactuary  ...) but especially the 3 story high tropical reef tank and the huge shark tank is pretty cool. I was rather jealous of the scuba divers that were exploring the tank.

Baltimore harbour / waterfront

The skyline of Baltimore didn't look very attractive (ugh...old ugly skyscrapers, what a difference with Philadelphia)  but it's waterfront is huge with multiple docks, old warehouses into transformation, parks and musea along the way etc. The inner harbor touches on different sides into different city quarters, each with their own caracter. 

We promised the children to take a boat and therefore we hopped on the watertaxi for them that navigates in loops around the harbour. We were already late and couldn't do the 2nd connecting harbour loop anymore but just the 'downtown' circle, was sufficient to float around for about an hour.  The children however both fell asleep rather quickly on our laps...go figure.  All of a sudden there appeared to be a technical issue with our boat, and the crew ran around, discussed, pointed while we were docked at one of the stops. After a bit of pointing we all of a sudden had to switch to the neighbouring boat docked there. No idea what was wrong to be honest.

We got out at Federal Hill and walked back to the inner harbour along the esplanade.

The USS Constellation 

After dinner at Philips Seafood restaurant, where we tried out their famous crabcakes, we had to run 7 blocks back in order to get back in the hotel before the thunderstorm started. We got into a few drips but in the end, the storm gave us mainly a spectacular pink sunset. 


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