At one point in our lives we have been diligently watching The Wire for entire five seasons. We followed police tracking a gang of drug dealers turned real estate investors. We watched unionized stevedores of Polish descent dabble in smuggling to make ends meet. We cheered a rogue police commander attempts to emulate Amsterdam drug policies. We were drawn into struggle to improve failed and debt ridden school system. All that exciting activities took place in Baltimore. In run down neighborhoods. In underfunded police stations. In local newspaper offices. In a corrupt City Hall.
Needless to say, when traveling along eastern seaboard we couldn't pass the opportunity to glimpse at Baltimore of crime-ridden fame. To add to the potential excitement we picked late evening to arrive on the scene.
As usual the reality looks nothing like what you see on TV. Probably because we only walked along the newly renovated waterfront. We thought we spotted suspiciously looking individuals, but they turned out to be bouncers in a club - possibly a gentleman club given scarcity of posters or patrons.
But we didn't completely miss a brush with illegal activities. The motel I picked turned out to be renting by the hour. The manager was pretty casual about that: complimentary breakfast in the morning, fridge and microwave in the room, hookers next door. He didn't phrase it quite that way but if we had any doubts the noises transmitted across the thin walls were quite unambiguous. Surprisingly we stayed despite the warning signs: victims of our liberal principles, no doubt. It wasn't some seedy place but a popular chain. Looks like franchise agreements do not preclude a profitable, if shadowy, sideline.