Baltimore Staycation

Keith has a knack for making big plans just before a big disaster. (I write this as we sit in a pandemic quarantine directly after he planned a move to Japan, so.) He planned a romantic proposal in Iceland, probably on an iceberg or the rim of a volcano or something, and hopefully a reindeer would bring the ring to me on its antlers. He says it was going to be a grand gesture. Anyhow, our airline went out of business 2 days prior to the trip, leaving passengers around the world stranded. Mind you, I had no idea a proposal was coming, so I was just bummed about a vacation and figured we’d go next year. Meanwhile the normally calm cool and collected one was freaking out about all his plans going awry. You’d think I would have caught on, but nope!

I often say that people should play tourist more in their own home, so we decided to do a staycation instead. Keith being Keith typed up a detailed itinerary, which he surprised me with each morning in a sealed envelope with a cocktail or latte. Obviously with this kind of start, Iceland is already forgotten for me and I’m having a blast. There’s a lot to do in and around Baltimore but my favorite activities involve eating, drinking, and nature so this is a pretty tailored itinerary 🙂

Keith’s Staycation Itinerary:

Day 1: Luray Caverns

I didn’t know the Luray Caverns existed and I’m so glad we went! They are HUGE, and eerily cool, staying the same temperature year round. There’s a blue mirrored underground pool, ghost stories, and even a giant organ that plays music in the largest cavern. Spectacular hiking spots are nearby, so this is totally worth a day trip. Guided tours depart every 20 minutes and no reservations are required.

Day 2: Day Spa, Brunch at Miss Shirley’s, Dinner at Puerto 511

Day 2 started with a relaxing massage and a dip in a salt water pool. (I will always recommend massages, but I recommend you get yours elsewhere than the Four Seasons Day Spa. Way overpriced and the men and women are separated, so we couldnt spend any time together in any area but the lobby!). We followed our pampering up with a big brunch at a Baltimore staple. The star of the day was Puerto 511. It’s a Peruvian micro restaurant that requires reservations well in advance due to its limited spacing and great reputation. Best. Ceviche. In. Baltimore. Also cute llamas inside. Shockingly reasonable prices. I cannot recommend it enough.
PRO TIP: It’s BYOB. Don’t forget your B!!!!

Day 3: Breakfast at Pitango, Cylburn Arboretum, Rawlings Conservatory, Dinner at Alma Cocina

I’ll never get over my love of Pitango. It’s Italian sandwiches, cortados, salmon toast, cookies, and cocktails. It’s on the water. We can walk to it. What’s not to love?? I grab breakfast and lunch here all the time. Then we trotted on over with full bellies to the Rawlings Conservatory and Cylburn Arboretum (pronounced sill-burn).

This was my first time here and it didn’t dissapoint! Lucky for Keith, who knows nothing about gardening, it’s actually peak blooming time for both the outdoor gardens and greenhouses. The Saucer magnolias especially were showing off and absolutely carpeted the grounds in breathy pink petals. While I’m running around smelling flowers, Keith hailed two nice old ladies from a distance to get a photo of us together. I’m a little confused, because we can take a selfie on our own, and these ladies are actually a long way away, but I’m not suspecting yet (good job Keith!). He has us pose under a particularly beautiful tree. He popped the question. I cried and ran around in circles. The ladies hugged me. I wouldn’t want it any other way, even if it were on a volcano in Iceland. The magnolia is an ancient tree that has been traced back to pre-bee time, 95 million years ago. They’re tough, long lasting, and beautiful. I like to think that’s a good sign for our marriage.

Day 4: Liming around the city (with a ring on!), Oysters, and Yemeni Dinner

Getting engaged is exhausting! There’s a lot of emotions and phonecalls with good news to make and I slept like the dead. Day 4 was our last day of vacation though so we weren’t going to waste it away resting inside. We hopped on Lime scooters and toured the city, with a stop for oysters in the afternoon at one of my favorite oyster spots (Thames Street Oyster House). We took tons of pictures with the ring on because oooh shiny and exciting. By dinner time we stopped at a random spot because it said “Yemeni food” on the sign. I’d never noticed it before, and usually you see “Arab” food, nothing so specific as Yemeni. AWESOME dessert that was totally new to me! It’s called Fatteh, and I went on to serve it at our wedding (though I’m sure it wasn’t as good without being freshly soaked in honey like we had here.) There are a lot of types of Fatteh in the middle east, so this isn’t very google-able, but it’s made from lots of crushed dates, bread, honey, and condensed milk.

The following is Keith’s favorite video which he continues to make fun of me for: