We left for Portland, Maine, on Saturday morning around 8:30 a.m. All research said we should be there around 7 hours later… plenty of time to make the check-in deadline at the bed and breakfast of between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. However, our sources evidently did not take into consideration the tourist traffic that hit us hard as soon as we got onto the Mass Turnpike. At one point, we were going about 20-25 mph, bumper-to-bumper and stop-and-go traffic. When we finally got closer to our coastal destination, we decided to get off the insanity that was the turnpike and try a local Route 1 that would take us to Portland, but with hopefully less traffic. We were banking that no one “knew about” Route 1. Were we ever wrong! The first 5 miles were great, until we started coming into small town after small town. They were all inundated with tourists, and it was dinner time by now. It took us 25 minutes to get through the first small town ~ it should’ve taken us about 5 minutes. Eventually, we arrived at our Portland B & B at 7:30 p.m. – almost 12 hours after leaving home, and over an hour “late” for check-in. The host/hostess left us an envelope with our key and instructions in the mailbox.
Our B & B, the Inn at Park Spring, was a quaint brick townhouse with Victorian interior decorating, but our room was small and our bathroom/shower even smaller. However, it was home for the next three nights, and we were ever so happy to have it! Parking was a little over a block away in this cityscape area. We weren’t far from anything, but because my walking ability is limited to about a block, we had to drive everywhere, which meant finding a place to park even closer to our ultimate destination ~ whether it be the Schooner cruise or dinner or shopping. What a nightmare! It got so Al would drop me off in front of our destination, then go find a place to park, usually several blocks away.
I don’t know what I was thinking when planning this little getaway. Portland is a city. A very BUSY city, with hordes of tourists at every turn. It was, however, beautiful and enjoyable. Just a little hectic for what we expected. Much of the Commercial Street shopping district had touristy shops from every walk of life. However, most seemed geared toward the younger, college-aged crowd… same with many of the restaurants. Most were Indian, Italian, European, bistro or “eclectic”. There were only a few that actually catered to the seafood menu. Portland Lobster Company was one such, and had delicious food ~ but it was VERY expensive for a help-yourself atmosphere. It was more like a hot dog stand. We each ordered lobster rolls w/fries and cole slaw … Al got a beer and I a Pepsi for $55.00. We eventually decided it was easier for us to go OUT of Portland to eat, down Route 1 there were some nicer restaurants, and even some favorites like Dairy Queen. Fortunately, breakfast was provided for at the B & B each morning.
On Monday we went on the Windjammer schooner cruise which took us out into the bay for a couple of hours. Being a lover of water, I especially loved this excursion. There weren’t a lot of guests on this cruise, but a few were kids that grew bored really fast. After the cruise on Monday, we traveled down along the coast to Old Orchard Beach, which consisted mainly of arcade games, souvenir shops and a decent carnival with rides. We’d hoped to park and take a look around, including seeing a beach, but the throngs of people prevented anything but a quick drive through and back to Portland again. Although we knew we were driving right along the coastline, the over abundance of hotels, motels, resorts and private residences kept us from even seeing a glimpse of the water. Monday night would be our last evening in Portland, as we would be heading out to Burlington, Vermont on Wednesday morning, so we were hoping to find a nice place to have a quiet dinner with relatively little parking issues. There was this little hole-in-the-wall place called “Andy’s Pub” amidst all the stores and restaurants that were packed with people, and we decided to give Andy’s a chance. I don’t know how this place remained undiscovered! It was a nice little pub w/restaurant that offered great food and a singer that started crooning around 7:00 p.m. It was quiet, only a couple other customers that were obviously locals remained. Even though we had to drop and park about 6-7 blocks away, it made for a nice final evening in Portland.
The next morning, Wednesday, we were off to Burlington.
Thanks for stopping by and reading about our excursion. Check out our continued vacation to Burlington and then Lake George, NY. TTFN ~ Tamara Eckstadt