Baltimore city is “the largest city and cultural center” of Maryland and we have visited it twice so far. The first time was on 21-22 January and we got there by MARC Train arriving at Camden Station close to Baltimore Inner Harbor. This is the central part of the city surrounding the historic seaport that hosts such attractions as Maryland Science Center, Port Discovery Children’s Museum, Hard Rock Cafe and National Aquarium. The last was the place where we spent most of our time during the first visit.
National Aquarium in Baltimore is a place I would recommend to everybody for visiting. We spent there almost a full day from 10 in the morning till 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Having seen other similar exhibitions in some other cities including Moscow, London, Leipzig, New York and Washington DC I can say that it was one of my best experiences so far. The thorough design of exhibits and different tour routes connecting several buildings let you get the most from your visit by seeing more in less time without getting confused what to look at. In addition to wast variety of inhabitants of waters from tiny sea-horses to giant skates, you can see different amphibians, reptiles and even birds and mammals in a special exhibit called Australia: Wild Extremes. For complete experience you can visit their wonderful Dolphin Show and watch one of the exciting films shown at the 4D Immersion Theater.
Baltimore was in the center of important events in the U.S. history. It was during the 1814 British attack on Baltimore when a Maryland lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key saw “The Star-Spangled Banner“ flying above the Fort McHenry as a symbol of American victory and wrote the words that later, in 1931, became the national anthem of the United States of America.
Baltimore is known also as the last haven for Edgar Allan Poe, the place where he is buried. Being a child I have read several novels by Edgar Poe and knew him as a famous writer of horror stories, but it was kind of a revelation for me to learn that he was also known as a poet and furthermore wrote few poems on Oriental and Koranic motives such as Tamerlane (1827), Al-Aaraaf (1829) and Israfel (1831). So Edgar Poe is considered as one of the icons of Baltimore city and you can see him with his famous Raven as a part of Baltimore themed Google logo.
This logo was designed by a prominent cartoonist Kevin KAL Kallaugher as part of the Baltimore bid for Google‘s super fast internet initiative. Actually I met him in June 2008 during the opening of his U.S. Embassy supported exhibition in Baku. It was for the first time works of this artist, world-known as the editorial cartoonist of The Economist, were exhibited in Azerbaijan. Along with publishing his wonderful cartoons Kal also gives speeches, trainings in different countries and pioneers some pretty cool stuff as in 2006 he was collaborating with the Imaging Research Center of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in creating 3D cartoons, animated in real-time.
This university was the main destination for our second visit to Baltimore on 29-30 January. University of Maryland, Baltimore County once again was hosting the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Maryland State Championship. I already wrote about my experience with FLL activities in the Terps like LEGO robotics posting. I contacted the Maryland branch of FIRST offering my help as a volunteer and joined the state championship on 30 January as a team judge. This year was most exciting for Maryland FLL “experiencing more than 60% growth with more than 160 teams registered from all across the state”. Seeing all that inspiration and creativity and talking to children from different schools presenting their research projects was an amazing experience.
A heavy snowstorm, which started that afternoon made our trip back even more exciting: discovering that MARC train is not working on Saturdays, we had to travel to Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) Airport by light train, then waited for B30 bus towards Greenbelt metro station, where eventually took C2 bus to home.