Baltimore has always been an important city for me. My stepdad grew up here, and my family took regular trips here years before I started college at the Peabody Conservatory, a Johns-Hopkins-affiliated music conservatory in the city. In my sophomore year, my mom took a job teaching at a private school here and my parents followed me, though, really, they'd been looking for an excuse to move here since long before I chose a college. Far from the violent cesspool depicted by crime dramas like The Wire, Baltimore is mostly a fun, vibrant and large city with a quirky flavor. While you may or may not agree with the city's motto emblazoned on its benches -- "The Greatest City in America" -- it's hard to visit this place and not concur with Baltimore's other, far more popular nickname: Charm City.

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