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Baltimore, Maryland: Beacon of Hospitality

If you know anything about Ireland, you know that it is in the DNA of the culture to be incredibly hospitable and you’ll, of course, find that in the tiny town of Baltimore in County Cork, Ireland where, every year, there is a great tournament of firemen who come together in this seaside town just east of Kinsale to see what fire department teams an run up ladders and row boats and perform other search and rescue tasks the fastest. But, while Baltimore, County Cork, Ireland shares the same name with Baltimore, Maryland, the derivation of the Irish town’s name is actually Baile an Tí Mhóir, which Town of the Big House, while Baltimore, Maryland is named for Lord Baltimore, the 1st Baron Baltimore, who was the visionary, George Calvert, who worked to establish Maryland as a haven for Catholics where they could practice their faith and worship without persecution.  Interestingly, while Baltimore, County Cork, and Baltimore, Maryland are at opposite ends of the spectrum from tiny town to busting metropolis, both share a history of Catholic residents, snuggle up to strategic harbors that lead to the Atlantic Ocean, and exude the level of hospitality that live up to the Irish motto that continues to be clearly evident in both destinations: “Cead Mile Failte,” Irish for “A Hundred Thousand Welcomes.”

While you’ll find people in Baltimore, Maryland whose Irish family roots go back to the days  of  the First Lord Baltimore, the city, over the  last four hundred years, reflects a spicy blend of peoples and the cultures they brought with them from wherever they emigrated from who have embraced Baltimore as their home, from recent moves to arrivals  over four centuries,  and have chosen this unique city that bubbles over with southern charm in its unique positioning between northern and southern states strategically located in the Middle Atlantic States region. What you find in twenty-first century Baltimore is a marvelous blend of Colonial American history, a rich array of cultural offerings from art to literature, music, dance and events that rejoice in all of the above, set in geographically lovely setting in Baltimore that is propelled by individuals, organizations and agencies that work diligently, persistently  and passionately to bring to residents and visitors valuable experiences that represent the best souvenirs one can take away from a visit to this unique destination.

Baltimore Inner Harbor

As a world traveler, I can tell you that there isn’t a city in the world, with the exceptions of Vatican City and Monte Carlo, Monaco, an independent principality abutting the French Riviera, where the Prince’s regulations make administration of what happens in every nook and cranny a matter of decree, that doesn’t have streets or neighborhoods that need to be the focus of improvement and that are in evidence in the most visited and praised cultural capitals on the planet. Just take a drive from the airport to an upscale island resort almost anywhere and you’ll quickly identify where a destination needs to focus on improvement. Happily, while agencies of governments who care about their constituencies work on making those improvements, there is, in general, no negative effect on visitors coming to those destinations as it is rare when travelers and tourists leave the historic, cultural, entertainment, culinary self-rejuvenating trails which busily absorb them.

We arrived in Baltimore two days ago. In that short time, I have had the amazing pleasure of meeting people, total strangers who had no idea who I am, where I come from, what I do professionally, what I care about personally.  I am breathless from gasping in awe at the warmth of the people I have met, not only the humanity, spirit, naturalness and soul of those working at a hospitality venue we have visited, who were amazing at places like aboard the yacht cruise of Baltimore Harbor aboard Entertainment Cruises, “Spirit of Baltimore,” and the incredible staff at  the Renaissance Baltimore Harbor Hotel that jumped through hoops in minutes to meet my unique needs on the spur  of a moment, (NOTE:  both stories will be shared in upcoming blogs so please watch for them!) but also includes my brief interaction with local folks and employees I briefly met while shopping in a local Wal-Mart to pick up a few items needed for  our travels.

Mark and Stephanie Abrams aboard Entertainment Cruises “Spirit of Baltimore”

The level of warmth and friendliness I’ve encountered since our arrival  seems to come naturally to the residents of Baltimore, Maryland, comparable to the level of warmth and friendliness I expect to receive when traveling in Ireland, offered by people of every color, ethnic origin, ancestral lineage has created a colorful tapestry in Baltimore of the descendants of people who had the strength, vision and fortitude to leave wherever they came from because, like the line in the film,  “Network,” they were “. . . mad as hell  and I’m not going to take this anymore!” America is a country made up of descendants of people who were ‘not going to take this anymore,’ and meet so many people today, especially in Baltimore, who are the product of that strength and that vision that things can be so much better, people can be so much better, and it all can be NOW. . .  and you’ll find that spirit alive and well in the joyful atmosphere that welcomes the stranger in the most delightful way and that is Baltimore!

What’s a trip to Baltimore without a great crab cake!?!

Try a lump crab meat crab cake at  Renaissance Baltimore Harbor Hotel. Scrumptious!

We’re off  to Fort McHenry, closely associated with the birth of our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” written by Francis Scott Key, moved by the “dawn’s early light” when he knew that America had emerged victorious in battle because, “our flag was still there” flying over Fort McHenry. Today is Defenders Day at Fort McHenry honoring America’s military and veterans. I’ll do my best to represent my grandfather, Adolph Statter, a Baltimorean of Austrian immigrant parents who settled in Baltimore in 1870, who, in 1898, fought in the Spanish-American War, and my father, Jacob Leonard Beber, a highly decorated WWII veteran who was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, having been injured in action in France, Sharp Shooters Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, the French Fougere, and a slew of other decorations honoring his bravery, heroism and bravery. Would that he were here today to attend this wonderful tribute to veterans in his home town of Baltimore, the place, by the way, where I was born.

Medals Awarded to PFC Jacob Leonard Beber, US Army Infantry

Grandfather Philip Beber (L) in front of his furniture store in Baltimore, MD with

Grandfather Adolph Statter, Baltimorean US Army Veteran of the Spanish-American War of 1898.

More to follow. . .

Go Baltimore! You rock!

--Gotta Fly Now!sm
Your Personal Travel Expert
Nationally syndiated radio show host
Stephanie Abrams

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