Aug 20, 2012

Exploring Annapolis, Maryland

Annapolis is an easy city to love. It has a lot going for it. It is small as cities go, located on the Chesapeake Bay, close to Washington and Baltimore, and steeped in history. There were a lot of things John and I loved including the fact that the historic part is easy to get around. We stayed at the wonderful Loews Hotel right in the historic center which enhanced our visit. Loews is the home station for eCrusier, a totally electric, low speed way to get around the city. We would call them for a free point-to-point transport - tips welcomed. Even though most of the places we wanted to visit were within walking distance of Loews it was extremely hot while we were there so we used the eCrusier many times.

Annapolis owes it existence to its location on the water so it only seemed right that we should start our visit with a tour aboard the Harbor Queen. Maryland is divided by the Chesapeake Bay and boasts more than 7,000 miles of shore line calling itself the ‘Sailing Capitol of the Nation.’ We passed by the U.S. Naval Academy some of which is located on reclaimed land that came from dredging the waterways and we learned that oysters should be eaten only in months that have an “R” in them. We also learned that every Wednesday night, weather permitting, they have sailing races and so we dined on fresh seafood at Carrol’s Creek which is a great place to watch the races while dining.

At the Visitor Center, just a short walk from Loews, we hopped on the Trolley Tour. It gave us an interesting overview of the city and its past. We passed by the Naval Academy, which we had visited, and St. John’s College, that had its beginnings in 1696, and where the curriculum centers around ‘great books.’ There are no text books. Students study from the classics from across the ages. The city has 1,300 buildings over 100 years old. Upon our return we took the Four Centuries Walking Tour with Mistress Carolyn attired in historic garb. Standing outside St. Anne’s church, while gazing at the burial ground we learned the story of Jeffrey Jiggs who was nearly buried alive, more than once, so he insisted on having a string in his casket attached to a bell above ground so he could ring the bell for help should he be buried and come to in his casket which would make him a “dead ringer” who was “saved by the bell.” Most interesting was the capitol building, the oldest U.S. State capitol in continuous use with its beginnings in 1779. Interestingly, it was built on ground higher than the Anglican Church to symbolize that the government was above and it is where George Washington, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, resigned his commission on December 23, 1783.
We walked the historic district where the historical house signs are color-coded according to style of architecture and toured the William Paca house and gardens. Paca was one of signers of the Declaration of Independence. One of my favorite stops was at the Hogs Head, a living history interpretation center where we met ‘Lizzy,’ the rat catcher and ‘Mary,’ the tavern maid both of whom shared what their life was like in the early days of Annapolis. In a gun demonstration they explained why it is important not to ‘go off half cocked.’