‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Fells Point

On Saturday we had gusts up to 70 miles an hour and a torrential downpour all day. Chris told me it was raining sideways. He had to tell me this because as he was watching it rain sideways, I was skipping in a fairly straight line through the Baltimore airport. Tra la!

Yes, while my family was securing the chickens and stocking up on propane for the Jolly Camper waffle iron (in case of power outage), I was having a little weekend getaway with my sister. I didn't plan it that way - I sometimes like foul weather. I also like it about 10 degrees warmer than we get at this time of year, and sunny.

My sister and I went to Baltimore for the weekend thanks (in part) to Southwest Airlines, who lost Studley's car seat a few months ago. They gave me a shiny new one to use on our trip and when I expressed a lack of interest in trading it back for our own Cheerio-encrusted version, they bought me off with a travel voucher.

I told my sister about the voucher and she said, "great! Where are we going?" My sister is an Organized Person and when she says something like that she actually means it. The next thing I knew I was getting emails with links to B&B's and resorts all down the eastern seaboard. We wanted to explore a place neither of us knew, and we picked Fells Point - an up and coming section of Baltimore.

Chris was grumpy at first, feeling very left out as he too would like to explore Fells Point. "What are you going to do?" he asked, his chin trembling a bit. I told him we'd go shopping and then find a place to have lunch before we went shopping again and then do our nails and look at decorating magazines. He was suddenly very glad to stay home with the kids.

I had been to dinner in Fells Point once, but it was dark and I didn't really know where I was (as is so often the case). And so I was totally unprepared for a cobblestone street on the waterfront, lined with boutiquey stores and taverns. Oh how I love boutiquey stores.

We stayed at Celie's B&B, which you can't find if you don't know where it is (and if you're us, you might still have trouble). You go through a little wrought iron gate between two store fronts, and down a narrow walkway. It's enclosed but you're essentially squeezing through the space between two really old buildings. You can either go through the secret door into the lobby or continue straight and end up in the courtyard. If you continue into the courtyard you can peak over the walls into neighboring courtyards and sometimes catch a neighbor up on a balcony having coffee in a bathrobe.

I could have spent the whole day watching people in their bathrobes, but we had important shopping to do. I kept reminding myself that Chris would not let me back in the house with more pottery, so I kept myself under control. My sister went a little crazy with the spending though, and bought me a pin that says "Trophy Wife," because, well, isn't it obvious? (for those of you who don't know me, it's not actually that obvious. It is possible that I'm not everyone's idea of a trophy wife. Okay, probably no one's.).

We had planned to have tea at a little shop on Broadway but they had closed by the time we got there. Silly us. But there was a nice hotel on the corner and nice hotels can always be counted on to serve tea, right? I wasn't completely convinced of my logic but suggested it anyway. Imagine our glee when we found a sign in the lobby that read "Tea served from 4 to 5."* We were just in time. It was served by ghosts, which usually makes me nervous. No, I'm not afraid of ghosts. I'm afraid of actors. It always makes me a little fidgety when someone pretends to be someone he's not. But I got over it because the next thing I knew one of them was asking if I'd like milk and sugar. Yes, please. Ghosts are very civilized. We alive people are not always so civilized, so they passed out cards with tea etiquette. Included on the card: 1) Finger sandwiches should be nibbled, not gobbled 2) Sports is not an acceptable topic at tea 3) Sip your tea, do not slurp. It is not permitted for gentlemen to pour their tea into the saucer to cool. Oh, and you're supposed to pour the milk in the cup before the tea. So's you know.

After tea we had just enough time to primp for dinner. In our case, this was three and a half hours, because primping for dinner was pretty much the whole point of the trip. We took bubble baths in the jet tub, we did our nails, we lounged in the bathrobes. In the future, I'd like to only stay in hotels which provide bathrobes, please.

And it's a good thing we primped. When we emerged from our our exfoliated and very well moisturized fog we found the city transformed. Little clusters of 20-somethings were hovering outside all the bars (about 4o in the neighborhood, the ghost told us). And when we got to our restaurant (Mezze), it had transformed from a beautiful place with a delicious looking menu into Holy Smokes Where Did All These People Come From? We were told it wasn't bad for a Saturday. Sometimes you can't get in the door. The hostess was wonderful, telling everyone to get a drink and wait. She told us it would all work out. And it did, because although it took us almost 2 hours to be seated, we met some nice people and had fun chatting up the locals. And for the record, I have never seen so many perfectly groomed eyebrows in one place, ever.

And also for the record, I would have waited 4 hours for the dinner we had. It was a tapas restaurant and we had fattoush, tapenade, tuna carpaccio, chilled beets, and roasted portobellos. If you go to Baltimore, oh please visit this restaurant. It is divine. But wear your comfortable shoes because you'll be standing in the bar admiring eyebrows for a long time.

Turns out it didn't matter how late dinner was, because hey, how smart are we for planning a weekend getaway the weekend we go off daylight savings time? An extra hour of sleep, hooray!

In the morning we had a continental breakfast in Celie's little sunroom. I then bullied my sister into taking our coffee up to the rooftop deck (view of the harbor!) and she acted like she was going to be a good sport about it but then she just stood there quaking and turning a little blue, which just didn't make it seem as charming as I thought it would be. I had such visions.

But really, the weekend was just exactly perfectly what we had wanted. Right down to the toenail polish.

Tune in tomorrow for How I Got the Plastic Castle Home.

*it was $5 because we weren't staying there. Totally worth it. Admiral Fells Inn - tell the ghosts I sent you.


Lisa said...

I knew you were up to something the last few days when my obsessive checking of your blog did not reveal any new posts...and here you were in my backyard! Fells is wonderful...I'm so glad you enjoyed it! We've spent many fun weekend nights there. It's been a long time though...

I'm definitely going to look into Celie's and Mezze. On your next trip down, be sure to check out Bertha's, a local favorite, for some fabulous mussels and Maryland crab soup!

thefoodsnob said...

That B&B looks fabulous! (The food sounds wonderful, great, hungry now, AGAIN!)
I thought you were NOT supposed to put milk first?
Something to investigate in my free time ;)


Susan said...

Lisa- It was hard not to blog while I was on the road (Celie's has a laptop you can use while you're there. Very tempting). And Bertha's is the restaurant I went to the first time I was in Fells Point. Loved it! How nice all that's in your backyard!

Lisa the Food Snob - Maybe only English ghosts put the milk in first. It was on the etiquette card, but I noticed that when the American ghost refilled my cup he put the milk in afterwards. It's a puzzle. Do let me know what you find out - I'd hate to be gauche in the afterlife.

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Liz said...

You ARE a trohpy wife and may you wear the pin proudly. Whilst in college, I went to the Green Turtle in Fells Point - it probably isn't there any more. At that time, being escorted by several burly college boys was the only way to even be there. A bit on the, um, dark side.

The only tea was the Long Island version. You are a Lucky duck!