I took my youngest child up to Loyola University, in Md this weekend. She had a tour on Friday.
Knowing there might be snow coming (pardon the understatement), we decided to stay overnight and see the Baltimore aquarium anyway. It was like taking Hotels 101. Before hitting the major points of that class, let me tell you how wonderful the Baltimore Aquarium is. First of all, although DC has a “National Aquarium”, the BAltimore Aquarium is now also considered the national aquarium, so don’t confuse them. The Baltimore Aquarium is in Baltimore, MD inner harbor. It’s priced rather steeply for a “National Aquarium” at $25.00/person. The aquarium is beautiful, both inside and out. There are multiple levels, as well as multiple buildings and nooks. We almost completely missed the Jellies exhibit because they were tucked away across the harbor (accessible by a glassed in walkway over the waterway), and in the dolphin bldg. The dolphin show requires an additional fee, which we didn’t feel we could put to good use, so we weren’t even going to go to the dolphin bldg. Our faulty assumption was that it only contained the Dolphin show. We also almost missed Australia because of tricky navigation. Ugh, I’m not directionally challenged, nor is my daughter, so there are probably a lot of people who get home, and ask what “Australia” exhibit? Jellies? Anyway, we loved watching the skate and sharks glide through the water, and “buzz”us as we stood just inches away on the other side of the glass. We could have counted the teeth on the 7′ long shark. Scary. We also LOVED the jellies exhibit, and my daughter got a very nice video on her phone.. I’ll try to put a copy of it on here later. That will be a lesson for me. The harbor was beautiful, but parking is $22/day! It doesn’t matter whether it’s a public lot, or your luxury hotel, you are going to pay that.
We had dinner at Houlihans, which is on the waterway, and were very impressed with our service, which was quick and friendly. Thanks Ashley;0) We had nachos, lettuce wraps and a martini trio of key lime, cosmo, and something blue. They were yummy. We were surprised at the options on the Harbor. PF Changs is on the harbor, Ruth’s Chris, Chipotle, Houlihans, Blu Bambu, etc. Lots of fun choices.
OK. let’s get to the hotels. When we arrived, the parking attendant suggested we go to Pier 5. The hotel next to the aquarium (which has 4 piers). The hotel is privately owned, and tries to present itself as a luxury hotel. We checked rates at the desk, and it was pricey at $200+/night……$250 with taxes and fees. Well, if you think I can pay that price for a hotel, I’ll tell you, it would have to be a very, very special occasion. Taking my last child to the inner harbor the year she is going to move out of my house, might qualify, so I asked if, since it was a light weekend, traveler-wise, could they give us a harbor-view room at that rate, and they acquiesced. Delighted, though broke, we went up to the room, to check-out the view. The room hadn’t even been vaccuumed! AND, our $200/night room had an upholstered chair with a 24″ tear in it!!! Whattheheck????? We went directly downstairs and told the desk manager that we just couldn’t stay at Pier 5, and went over to the Marriott. It was lovely, but the area was full of traveling politicos, and we decided to seek a slightly less costly and less busy accomodation, just off the water.
We stopped at the Hyatt/Homewood Suites across the street from the Marriot, and got a huge….. let me say that again, HUGE suite (probably 700 sq/ft) for a fraction of what Pier 5 charged us for what we affectionately call “The Dive”. We loved the suite at Homewood. Thanks Kenyetta. We had a kitchen, living area, hall, bedroom, and bathroom,all in a corner suite, on the 9th floor ,overlooking the city, with a tiny bit of the harbor visible, and the waterway just visible also. It was excellent, and I’ve already booked my room for Memphis, next month at a Homewood Suites. We had a great stay. We walked around the harbor area in the evening, and woke to news of heavy snow in Richmond. We knew we couldn’t afford this lovely suite for 4 or 5 nights should we get snowed in. So we high-tailed it out of there despite the fact that we had a 2:00 check-out because we are Hilton Honors members.
Our intended destination, when we left Baltimore, was Alexandria, VA. If we could get there, we would decide whether to attempt to get on home. It should have been a 1 hour trip, but the snow came down as if it were being popped out of a theater popcorn popper at intermission. By the time we hit upper Marlboro, Md, we had to get off the interstate and try to find a room…..an unfruitful, hour-long search, we couldn’t find anything in our price range (remember, we had our card swiped at Pier 5, so our bank thought we had spent that money. It is not available again for 5 days!!!). Back on the interstate, which had improved in our absence, and we made it to Alexandria. Our first stop was a Comfort Inn, on Van Dorn St. We won’t even GO there, except to say,”I felt like I needed a fumigation from just stepping in, asking the rate and stepping out again”. It turns out that our original ‘destination’ would be just a mile or two up Van Dorn.
We arrived at the Wingate property called the Hawthorn just in time to feel safe getting off the rd. The hotel looked great, and joy abounded. A suite is just $79.00. That includes breakfast, and efficiency-like acommodations. Our room heater didn’t work, but we were on the 9th floor again, and the heat from the other rooms kept us safe, if not comfortable. We were offered a space heater, but the offer made me feel a bit unsafe when you think about how many fires are caused by space heaters, and we might be on the 9th floor of an old bldg with someone in another room kicking their covers off onto their space heater. The room had only one trash can, in the kitchenette, of this room. No bathroom trash can?, and burn marks in the chair and the carpet. but other than that and the suspicious, whitish ooze stain dripping down the bathroom wall, we could be considered $79-comfortable.
Well, I have driveled on for about 1200 words, let’s call it quits. If you visit Baltimore’s inner Harbor, check out the Homewood Suites, ask for Kenyetta, and tell her we sent you, OK?
Have fun, and I can’t wait to get home to my fireplace, hubby, a pot of hot, home-made stew and my loom.
I’m home now and received a warm welcome by the husband, a roaring fire, and a pot of John’s yummy stew. The loom will have to wait, as I must get my taxes sent out first thing in the morning. Welcome home.