City Nicknames We’d Rather Not Hear

laundromatAs a native Californian, few things get on my nerves more than hearing the abbreviation, “Cali.” I don’t know why it irritates me so much, but I suspect it’s the knowing, insider-y tone that usually accompanies it. “Yeah, man, I just got back from a trip to Cali. It was hella cool.”

Aaargh. Also right up there is “Frisco.” Let me just tell you that Californians do not, ever, under any circumstances, refer to their state as “Cali,” nor “The City” as “Frisco.” San Francisco even famously had a laundromat called, “Don’t Call it Frisco.” I also dislike “Berzerkley,” “San Berdoo (San Bernadino)” and “The States (anyone in Hawaii referring to the Mainland).”

With these grating abbreviations in mind, I asked my Gadling colleagues what city nicknames bug them. The response was fast, furious and lengthy. Below, some highlights:

Anna Brones: Portlandia. Don’t even get me started.

Libby Zay: I personally hate “Hotlanta.” It’s also pretty annoying when people add “tucky” or “neck” as suffixes. As in, Fredneck, Maryland, or Brunstucky, instead of Brunswick, Ohio … I suppose Pennslytucky would be more of a geographic region.”

Author admission: Guilty as charged, Libby.

Kyle Ellison:Lost Wages,” for Las Vegas, and “N’awlins” for New Orleans.

Elizabeth Seward: It depends on the day whether or not these bug me. I wish I didn’t know so many. “Beantown”; “Chi-town”; “Sin City”; “Nasty Nati (Cinncinati)”, “C-town (Columbus)”; “SoBro (South Bronx, oy)”; “Marighetto (what locals call my hometown of Marietta)”; “City of Angeles”/”LaLaLand”/”Tinseltown”; “The Big Easy.”

Elizabeth, I promise to never refer to my hometown of Thousand Oaks as “Thousand Jokes” again.

McLean Robbins: “Naptown” for Annapolis and “The District” from anyone not a local to Washington, DC.

Meg Nesterov: Calling cities the Paris/Venice/X/ of the North/East, et al.

Sean McLachlan, resident history buff: Missouri is often called “Misery,” generally by outsiders from northern states and occasionally by frustrated Missourians. The term actually has old roots. The 18th century French settlers in Ste. Genevieve found the place so boggy and full of mosquitoes that they nicknamed it misère.

[Photo credit: Flickr user knitgrrldotcom]

Roadside America: Annapolis

An Annapolis native rolls their eyes when dining out of state and they’re informed that a restaurant has “really good crab cakes.” They can tell the season by the color of a midshipman’s (Naval Academy student) uniform, and inform you that a “Johnny” is not a young boy but a student at the town’s other university, St. John’s.

So who better to tell you about this scenic state capital than a local? We can’t think of anyone either. Here’s the down and dirty on our hometown.

An easy day-trip drive from cities like Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and an equally simple overnight for those from as far away as Philadelphia and Richmond, the lure of this historic town is simple: water, water everywhere.

Want to visit Annapolis? Here’s what you need to know.

Play Tourist:

Start your trip downtown at the docks. Dubbed “Ego Alley,” the main city dock has dozens of large boats that pull up each day. It’s fun for spectating, and there’s plenty of seating for those who want to enjoy a cold beverage or ice cream cone. You can also catch a $13 waterfront cruise from City Dock, a great way to see the town by water.

Next, walk up Main Street, popping in and out of boutiques as you like – you’ll find a lot of souvenir shops but also some clothing stores, galleries and even national vendors like Sperry and Helly Hansen. When you reach the top of the street, head to the right, around Church Circle, and continue on to State Circle. You can then take a walk down Maryland Avenue, which is heavy on the design boutiques and art galleries. From here, you can reach one of the minor gates of the United States Naval Academy. During daylight hours, you can walk on to the campus by showing your ID. You can stroll the grounds, visit the chapel and stop by the Visitors center, which offers a number of free exhibits. Guided tours are available until 3 p.m. and are $9.50 for adults.
When you stroll out the front gates again, you’ll pretty much be right back where you started – and it’s time for a cocktail!

Eat:
If you’re visiting during the late spring, summer, or early fall, you absolutely must experience crabs. Make the drive to Cantler’s if you’re in search of the steamed or soft shell variety. If you’d prefer a great crab cake, try O’Learys instead.

If you’re visiting on a day trip and are enjoying just a meal and a snack, we’d prefer to satisfy our cravings while on-the-go with a quick pit stop at Annapolis Ice Cream Company, which churns out the town’s best homemade treats in flavors like Mint Oreo and Apple Pie. If you’d rather sip your calories, the famed Chick & Ruth’s Delly features a 6-pound shake on the menu (yes, you may have seen it during an episode of “Man vs. Food”).

If you’re staying overnight, you’ll find that most bars along Main and West Streets cater to a casual crowd. Feel free to come in fresh from an afternoon on the boat and order a brew at McGarvey’s (where the Navy’s Blue Angels hang out when they’re in town) or the 250-year-old Middleton Tavern (order some oysters with your cocktail). Or, head to West Street and try the local brews at Rams Head Tavern, where you can frequently catch local and national musicians playing for the evening. For a true scenic dining experience, head across the water to the Severn Inn, which offers panoramic views of the bay and downtown.

For brunch, lovers of the casual will find a locals hangout at Boatyard Bar & Grill, just across the bridge in Eastport.

Tips for Day-Trippers:

  • Plan to do some walking. Finding a parking space downtown on weekends can be tough, so you’ll want to leave it in a public garage (there’s one on Main Street) or at your hotel if you can. Downtown is pretty walk-able, but you’ll want flat, comfortable shoes for the brick sidewalks.
  • Preppy chic is the dress code of choice for most Annapolis natives – most restaurants won’t require more than a collared shirt for dinner, although a blazer wouldn’t look out of place either.

[Flickr image via jeffweese]

Annapolis: A day trip


annapolis

Here on the East Coast, the weather has warmed, reached scorching, and cooled again. The nights are long, the fireflies abundant, and the waterfront beckons. And it’s this same time of year that this Annapolis native (or Annapolitan, as we are often called) is besieged with e-mail and phone messages asking about what one should do in our beloved hometown on a weekend trip.

An easy day trip drive from cities like Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, and an equally simple overnight for those from as far away as Philadelphia and Richmond, the lure of this historic town is simple: water, water everywhere.

Want to visit Annapolis? Here’s what you need to know:


WHERE TO STAY

If you’ll want to spend the majority of your time near the water or within walking distance to most of your activities, you’ll need to reserve a hotel or inn downtown. Consider the Annapolis Marriott for the best water views. The hotel restaurant, Pussers, is also a popular evening spot – order the signature Painkiller cocktail, a deadly yet delicious blend of juices and rum.

On West Street, the new-ish Westin hotel is slightly less expensive and features spacious rooms and a complimentary shuttle to Main Street. It’s about a 15-minute walk downtown, and you’ll pass numerous restaurants, bars and shops along the way.

Should you care for something a bit more boutique, try the Historic Inns of Annapolis collection – three hotels (The Maryland Inn, Governor Calvert House, Robert Johnson House) that feature a more bed and breakfast-style approach and, in some cases, a history that dates back to the 1700s.

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

No trip to this seafood-laden city is complete without a crab picking. Make the drive to Cantler’s if you’re in search of the steamed or soft shell variety. If you’d prefer a great crabcake, try O’Learys instead.


While you’re strolling the boutiques of Main Street, don’t miss a stop at Annapolis Ice Cream company. Their homemade ice cream comes in flavors like Mint Oreo and Apple Pie. Are milkshakes more your speed? The famed Chick & Ruth’s Delly features a six-pound shake on the menu (yes, you may have seen it during an episode of Man vs. Food).

Want a trendy night out spot? Sample the small plates, many featuring locally-sourced ingredients, at Level, or the upscale Italian at Osteria 177.

When it comes time to hit the town, you’ll find that most bars along Main and West Streets cater to a casual crowd. Feel free to come in fresh from an afternoon on the boat and order a brew at McGarvey’s (where the Navy’s Blue Angels hang out when they’re in town), the 250 year old The Middleton Tavern (order some oysters with your cocktail) or Sly Fox Pub at Reynold’s Tavern at the top of the circle. Or, head to West Street and try the local brews at Rams Head Tavern.

For brunch, lovers of the casual will find a locals hangout at Boatyard Bar & Grill, just across the bridge in Eastport. For a more upscale experience, opt for Carroll’s Creek.

WHAT TO DO

Start your trip downtown at the docks. Dubbed “Ego Alley,” the main city dock has dozens of large boats that pull up each day. It’s fun for spectating, and there’s plenty of seating for those who want to enjoy a cold beverage or ice cream cone. You can also catch a $13 waterfront cruise from City Dock, a great way to see the town by water.

Next, walk up Main Street, popping in and out of boutiques as you like – Diva and Horse are our two favorite picks for designer clothing. When you reach the top of the street, head to the right, around Church Circle, and continue on to State Circle. You can then stroll down Maryland Avenue, which has numerous design boutiques and art galleries. From here, you can reach one of the minor gates of the United States Naval Academy. During daylight hours, you can walk on to the campus by showing your ID. You can stroll the grounds, visit the chapel, and stop by the Visitors center, which offers a number of free exhibits. Guided tours are available until 3 PM and are $9.50 for adults.

When you stroll out the front gates again, you’ll pretty much be right back where you started – and it’s time for a cocktail!

INSIDER’S TIPS

  • Plan to do some walking. Finding a parking space downtown on weekends can be tough, so you’ll want to leave it in a public garage (there’s one on Main Street) or at your hotel if you can. Downtown is pretty walk-able, but you’ll want flat, comfortable shoes for the brick sidewalks.
  • Preppy chic is the dress code of choice for most Annapolis natives – most restaurants won’t require more than a collared shirt for dinner, although a blazer wouldn’t look out of place either.

[Flickr via Jeffweese]

Visit Annapolis in Maryland

Forgotten space pioneer: 50th anniversary Alan Shepard’s historic flight

space, Alan ShepardFifty years ago today Alan B. Shepard Jr., became the first American in space when he flew in the Freedom 7 mission. He got 116.5 miles up and his flight lasted 15 minutes, 28 seconds. He made history, but has been generally forgotten.

Why? Because he was the second man in space. Yuri Gagarin made it into space 23 days earlier and won the second round of the US-Soviet space race. The Soviets won the first round too, when they got the first satellite into orbit in 1957.

Neither man achieved full orbit, but they did prove you could survive the trip and they paved the way for future space missions. Both deserve to be remembered.

NASA has an excellent interactive webpage about the mission and the capsule he flew in is on display at the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Shepard was an alum (Class of 1945) so needless to say they’re pretty proud of him over there.

Shepard later landed on the Moon in the Apollo 14 mission and drew laughs and criticism when he played golf in low gravity. You can see the Apollo 14 command module at the John F. Kennedy Space Center.

[Photo courtesy NASA]