Portland Vacation in Words

July 18, 2008

I'll try my best to describe my recent New England vacation. But it's hard because the beauty and uniqueness of Portland is beyond what words can describe. Genuinely, I encourage anyone and everyone to experience Portland, Maine, for themselves.

And I really feel like that is what I did. I didn't want to have dinner at Applebee's and go shopping at Sear's. Every day I immersed myself in the culture and community of Portland. I walked the streets. I drank the coffee. I noshed on the food. I visited with locals. I browsed and shopped at many locally owned stores. I wanted the full experience of Portland, and I got it. Or at least as much as one could in 5 days.

I thought it would be good to compile a list of highlights. Top 10 sounds like a good goal. In no particular order:

1. The sounds of Portland - fog horns blaring during the night, and sea gulls squawking throughout the city. Things that the residents probably don't even notice anymore. I know I don't notice the sounds of SB anymore, ie, sirens.

2. The lighthouses of Maine - I saw quite a few throughout my time there, big and small, picturesque and standard. I enjoyed each one and found them to be quite tranquil.

3. The uniqueness of Portland - they have a city ordinance that businesses downtown (which encompasses a good sized area) must be locally owned. What does that mean? It means I never got blasted by the large overwhelming logos for McDonalds, Burger King, WalMart, etc. It means I never went to (or wanted to go to) a nation wide chain. I confess I went to one east coast chain restaurant, and it was fantastic!

4. Jaclyn & Family - I got to stay with my friend Jac. It's always a treat to spend time with her, and this time I got to meet some of her extended family - aunt & uncle, 2 cousins, and grandma. Jac's grandma is a riot! A total character who should be in a movie, but you wouldn't believe she's real! It was a real treat! And Jac and I had great times laughing, talking, eating, being silly and having fun.

5. Blueberries of Maine - I had no idea how obsessed I would become with blueberries. I had amazing blueberry pancakes, incredible blueberry ice cream and took home with me blueberry tea and blueberry coffee, both with such rich aromas!

6. The water - Portland is right on the coast, and Jac's back yard is right on the water! Since Jac had to go back to work Monday I decided to go out on a day cruise exploring Casco Bay. It was 2 hours out, 2 hours spent exploring or relaxing on Bailey Island, and 2 hours back to Portland. It was so beautiful and peaceful on the boat. I sat right up front (I'm sure there's some nautical ship term for that) and never got sea sick. In fact I found the "ocean motion" quite lulling.

7. Exploring - I am only recently realizing how much I enjoy exploring new towns. Jac let me decide on anything we did or anywhere we went (she's so great!), and I pretty much wanted to go, go go. Even when a lot of the shops were closed on Sunday, I still wanted to just wander around and take it all in. When we docked at the island Monday, most people stayed at the pier and went to a lobster restaurant. I, instead, crossed the bridge, went up the hill and around curve after curve to see what else was on the island. Unfortunately, it wasn't all that much...

8. Relaxing - I also made sure to not be "on the go" constantly. I knew if I was I'd feel less relaxed at the end of vacation than when it started. So while exploring downtown, we'd break mid-afternoon to spend some time reading at a local cafe. One evening we took our creative, organic flatbread pizza home and enjoyed a good movie.

9. Seafood - I'm not a huge seafood fan, but I am trying to eat more because it's healthy for you. I'm sure I cancel out all the health benefits though when it's battered and fried! Regardless, I made it a point to eat some type of seafood in Maine. We dined at a local lobster shack that is right on the ocean up in Cape Elizabeth complete with lighthouses in view. I had shrimp and enjoyed it quite a bit. Leaving Bailey Island Monday after lots of exploring and walking around, I grabbed a cup of clam chowder for the boat ride back and actually didn't hate it.

10. Other random highlights and things of note: An incredible fireworks display right over the ocean; seeing lots of shirtless men; getting checked out by a guy who was with his girlfriend; experiencing a beautiful Catholic church service; discovering LL Beanland (a 24 hour campus of LL Bean stores, including the flagship store) in Freeport, an amazing little town full of outlet stores, but in old buildings down main street rather than your typical outlet plaza. I also got to see seals in the ocean and a fox in Jac's backyard. Yah, apparently that's "normal" there, but it will never be normal to Jac or me!

10 1/2. The bonus of Boston - I flew into Boston to save money and got to see my former co-worker from California, Devin, who now lives in Boston. I've decided he might be the best hugger I know. And we got to stalk actress Victoria Principal together at the airport. :)

Lots of wonderful memories from a wonderful vacation in New England!! I'm very grateful I got to experience it!

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  1. YAY! What a great post... I'm glad that you had such a wonderful, relaxing trip! Those are the kind that are good for your body AND soul!


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