• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates •
Spending a weekend in Annapolis requires one, primarily, to use their senses.
Of sight — the heritage colonial architecture, the parade of American flags hung from businesses and residences, the sultry, boat-filled waterfront erupting with blazing sunsets, the pristine turquoise domes and lighted posts at the naval academy, all coalescing into a watercolor landscape from a painting you once saw.
Of smell — the scent of saltwater and magnolia flowers hanging in the air, the salinity of fresh oysters as they’re pried open, the richness of the tide’s other bounty as it’s simmered in olive oil and white wine and butter.
Of touch — the asymmetry of the chunky red bricks under your feet, the worn maps and pages at so many antique bookstores, the stubborn crustacean shells cracked between your hands, the wind on a ship, thick with the sea, the sun’s earnest heat as the morning clouds burn off.
Of sound — the plebes marching, if its the right time of year, ducks, appealing for tourists’ forgotten potato chips, the whir of boats traversing the tributaries, the occasional ‘hun’ at a restaurant, reminding you that you’re still below the Mason Dixon line.
Of taste — the rich lump crab cakes doused with sharp, fresh lemon, the peppery dusting of Old Bay that practically floats through the air, all the bivalves and their piquant mignonettes, the saltine crackers, the cold beer, and afterward, a cone of already-dripping ice cream — blackberry macha perhaps? — that makes you feel like one of the kids on the waterfront benches, attacking the cold stuff with urgency and verve.
Somehow all of it unites, creating a distinct feel in this one-time U.S. capital that isn’t talked about near enough — a city equidistant from Baltimore and DC, whose standing pubs once hosted the likes of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, whose current arts and music scene speaks more to the present. Perched on the Severn River, a couple miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, it’s a place that feels part of the storied northern seaboard and part of the charming south, at once old and new, wealthy and humble. Given its joyous display of red, white and blue on every block, it just might be the most patriotic place in America.
Lessons of U.S. history lie around every tree-graced corner, inside museums, on sturdy placards, alongside statues. But its identity also lingers in the city’s texture, it’s tastes, sights, sounds and scents. My suggestion? Take a deep breath and go for a stroll.