I had to go to Baltimore last week for a teaching conference, and, I have to admit, I wasn’t too excited about it. Sure, there was the whole prospect of getting out of work for four whole days and being able to stay in a hotel room I wouldn’t have to pay for.
But getting out of work so that I could go to Baltimore?
That kind of sounded like getting out of purgatory so I could go straight to hell.
No offense, people of Baltimore, but you have to admit, Baltimore doesn’t exactly have a good reputation.
It tends to be lumped in the same category as Detroit. Namely: “Cities You Probably Shouldn’t Go To If You Value Your Life.” And while I’ve grown to love Detroit and all its quirky, urban blight glory, I wasn’t so sure I’d be able to find the same affection for Baltimore in the four short days that I was going to be in the city.
And then I arrived there and found myself stumbling past ornately spired churches and quaintly, cobble-stoned streets and thinking to myself, “THIS IS BALTIMORE??? HOW IS THIS BALTIMORE??? WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME BALTIMORE WAS LIKE THIS???”
The only thing I can think is that the natives of Baltimore have purposefully given their city a bad name so as to keep Baltimore to themselves. And, frankly, I can’t blame them. Because not only is Baltimore full of pockets of cobble-stoned quaintness, it is also home to some of the best meals I’ve had in a long time.
Like this pork-filled bowl of goodness and ramen.
And this magical meatball pho with Vietnamese iced coffee.
And this baklava that was all flaky phyllo dough and honeyed bits of heaven.
I will admit that I spent the majority of my time in conference sessions thinking not about teaching techniques but about lunch. And dinner. And possibly second lunch. And pre-dinner snacks. And whatever that meal is called when you happen upon a French bakery on your way back to the conference and you suddenly find yourself playing hooky so you can stuff your already full stomach with apple tarts instead of stuffing your head full of teaching tips.
That meal has a name, right?
I think it’s called the “Baltimore Made Me Do It.”
What city were you dreading visiting only to be pleasantly surprised by how nice it was?