The Other Portland
Some of you might know that being a full-time PR professional, my free-spirited, travel bug-bitten alter ego can only come out and play mostly during weekends and holidays. And to satisfy this voracious hunger for travel, my boyfriend and I try to fit as many daycations and weekends away as possible in our busy schedules. This is why for the past two years we’ve been on a quest to fully explore the vibrant towns of New England, especially during the hot summer days.
So when Alex was about to turn 27 in August (welcome to the late twenties!), I organized a little trip for us – to Portland, Maine. The plan was to stick around the city on Friday and Saturday, and then spend Sunday in the funky town of Ogunquit – the P-town of Maine, and even soak up some sun at a nearby beach. Ogunquit never happened due to the pouring rain on Sunday, but the first two days were fabulous, and that Portland trip was definitely one of the most memorable highlights of this summer.
Even though we left during the Boston’s most horrible rush hour – Friday after 6PM – it only took us a couple of hours to drive to Portland. The B&B we were staying at wasn’t located in the most beautiful part of Portland, yet it was absolutely lovely. From the cheerful and always-eager-to-help innkeepers, to the Victorian style-decorated rooms and the in-room complimentary champagne, this cozy Bed & Breakfast – Inn on Carleton – definitely deserved its five stars and number one rank on TripAdvisor.com. Just to give you an example – we had freshly made peach pancakes and farm-raised bacon with fresh fruit for breakfast.
Anyways, as we arrived pretty late on Friday on Alex’s actual birthday, we immediately headed out to have dinner at Bresca. This restaurant was super-cute and perfect for a romantic dinner on a birthday night. I strongly recommend getting the smoked mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes spaghetti – this dish was indescribable. But I do need to warn you that if you’re not a big fan of pure fried fat, don’t get the fresh bacon. As Alex put it: “They went to a lot of trouble to make sure my bacon was meat-free.” Anyways, I’m pretty sure that the menu is updated seasonally, and everything else was top-notch.
The next morning we boarded the ferry and took a 10-minute ride to Peaks Island in Casco Bay. It’s a small yet picturesque island with a couple seafront cafes and unique houses where the owners were generous with their $$$ and creativity to decorate them into something special. You can either take a pedi-cab guided tour around the island, or rent a bike at a local store and explore the island by yourself. The most scenic part of it is its Back Shore. It offers amazing views of the Casco Bay marina and the surrounding rocky formations. And of course, you’ve got to try the local lobster roll!
After our little island adventure, we ventured out to explore the rest of Portland. After enjoying fresh oysters, clam chowder and local brews at J’s Oyster, the diviest yet pretty renowned bar in town, the afternoon felt almost complete. We went on browsing seaport streets and checking out local shops for interesting crafts and knick-knacks.
Per our friend’s recommendation, we had dinner at Salt Exchange – a funky restaurant in the port district. With outstanding service and delicious food, this restaurant represented the true vibe of Portland. Definitely try the roasted Cornish game hen – it’s decadent!
We finished the night at the trendy Wine Bar with an amazing selection of North American reds, good jazz music and perfectly soft couches. Oh wait – there were a couple more places that I barely remember because of the serious amount of tequila shots involved. But I do remember that everyone else was in their early-twenties except for us. That’s when I realized… that I’m actually OK with that. 🙂 Everything is ahead of us, and life is just beginning!
So go and explore Portland and let me know what YOU think about it.