It appears that my husband and I have a glitch.
According to my Facebook feed, many of my friends flock to beautiful, tropical places for vacation, where they spend the week in the sand and salt. My husband and I, on the other hand, seem to try and find a destination that has potential to be cold, rainy and isolated. First Scotland, now Maine!
Joking aside, we live at the beach, and the thought of exploring a totally different terrain is what excites us. Plus, parts of Maine are certainly isolated, cold and rainy, but in summertime it’s like a Norman Rockwell painting. Probably because the coastline is so dramatically different than our own here in Charleston, we’ve just always really wanted to go to Maine. In fact, we considered honeymooning there, but ultimately Scotland won that battle.
So, when the opportunity came for a “last hurrah” vacation before some big work and life changes, we pounced. And the first stop during the Maine Event was Portland — read on for our favorite sites and snacks in the city!
We woke up at 4 a.m. to get to the airport (suuuuperr early. Like, so early that we accidentally tried to board the WRONG plane that was flying to Charlotte — ours wasn’t for another hour. But that’s neither here nor there.)
Naturally, upon landing in Portland, our very first stop was for caffeine. I’d done some research (shocking, I know) and had a few cool local spots starred for food and bev. Our choice, Yordprom Coffee, was only the CUTEST thing I’ve ever seen. I wish I’d taken a picture of the bowl of coffee we received. Pretty sure it was a literal bowl.
After popping over to the Rite Aid across the street for soap, we walked one more block to our AirBnB. The location and view (and price) were ideal, and the reasons why we chose the apartment, but the cleanliness left something to be desired.
The apartment building had a secure fob situation, so I felt safe. But there were towels on the floor of our bathroom and we had to put the sheets on the bed ourself, which was weird. At least I knew they were clean. It was just a little off-putting and unexpected because LOOK AT THIS FANCY LOBBY.
After freshening up and getting the airport smell off of us (it’s a thing), we headed out to explore Portland. I feel like I need to brag that we didn’t take a nap. So here’s me, bragging.
I know it will come as a complete shock to my readers, but upon exiting our apartment, I immediately stumbled upon a book store I wanted to explore.
… annnnd then a record store. Had to peruse for obvious reasons. They labeled their categories with the BEST, most entertaining titles it took everything in me not to buy about 19 records. The owner probably thought I was a freak, and I can’t imagine why. It may have been because I kept chanting “you don’t have room in your suitcaseeee, you don’t have room in your suitttcaaasee,” quietly to myself, but who’s to say?
We walked through the downtown area to the Old Port (‘scute!), where we ate at a restaurant called Duckfat that came highly recommended by a friend. And y’all. I met a new love.
As soon as we locked eyes, there was an instant connection. And, he was Canadian.
Meet my exotic love affair: Poutine.
AKA cheese fries for fancy people.
Years of eating biscuits and gravy had prepared me for this moment.
French fries fried in duck fat, cheese curds and brown gravy. HELLO. We also split a delishhhhhh ham and cheese panini and tried our first Liquid Riot beers, which are brewed locally in Portland. The perfect light meal for a day of walking around a new city 😅
After lunch, we waddled our way to Shipyard Brewing Company, located nearby.
Once inside, the bartender (brew master? Bearded beer magician?) walked us through the current lineup on tap, then handed us a flight deck and a piece of chalk. We looked up at the giant beer list on the blackboard, then wrote the corresponding number on our chalked flight board. My husband and I tried to get all different pours so that we could have a tiny sip of everything.
Gonna call this one a Money-Saving Vacation Stop(TM) because I’m pretty sure each flight of four beers was about $6. Can’t be 100% positive on that, because ... I drank the beer … but I do remember that it was a really, really good value and great way to experience a wide variety of tastes. Details may be a tiny bit hazy, but ya girl never forgets a frugal find.
My husband loved their summer ale most, and I was surprised how much I loved the blueberry ale. Not really a fruity beer kind of girl, but this one had a rich mouthfeel and a complex body. And yes, I did just copy and paste that from their website. Still, a reminder to branch out and try new things!
We took our time here, doing lots of people-watching. Eventually, we moved on to walk along the scenic and elegant Eastern Promenade.
As it turns out, Portland is awesome?!?! It’s not that I had low expectations, I just didn’t really have any expectations, and so we were surprised how much we really, truly loved Portland.
It reminded us a LOT of Charleston: Port city, surrounded by water, a “foodie” destination, lots of cool breweries/interesting beer scene, casual cannons in parks.
For those of you familiar with Charleston, the Eastern Promenade was essentially the Battery/South of Broad, but with hills. Even though there are many similarities between Charleston and Portland, hills are one thing I am most definitely NOT accustomed to.
I’m pretty sure Charleston’s highest point of elevation is approximately below sea level (not true, but close enough) and so I never, ever remember to account for the added effort it takes to walk uphill when I’m looking at a Google map and thinking, “Oh, a mile? Cake.” I supposedly love hiking now. But hiking is different. I have better shoes on for hiking. And trail mix. The trail mix is key to my enjoyment. I digress.
Pro tip: Climbing hills feels a lot easier after a flight of beer!
After wandering around this end of town for awhile, we were ready to sit down and take a load off. Luckily, not far off was another recommended stop for microbrews: Sebago Brewing Company.
I can’t remember if I loved this place so much for the chicken tenders we split, the rosé beer I got, or the sweet, sweet relief of sitting down after walking around all day on about 4 hours of sleep.
As evening started to settle in, we walked back through downtown and made one more stop at a local dive another friend insisted we go to. We even stumbled upon some live music playing on a patio, which gave the whole city a vibrant, perky feel. Not daring to go home and fall asleep until we’d had dinner, we wound our way back toward our home base for a meal I’d picked out before we arrived in town.
You must be thinking we got lobster, right? WRONG.
There was plennnttyyy of lobster and seafood throughout the duration of the trip, but I had my heart set on a different kind of dish.
And boy, it did NOT disappoint.
Fat and happy, I nearly face-planted and passed out in my bowl of empty miso ramen, so my husband quickly ushered us across the street to our apartment where I promptly hunkered down for some beauty rest. Good thing, too, because the next day was equally filled with exciting things to see and do (read: eat).
Be sure to check back for our Maine trip part 2: Bar Harbor.
Have you ever been to Portland, Maine? More importantly, have you ever had poutine?? Most importantly, why haven’t any of y’all ever told me about poutine???? COMMENT BELOW, I DEMAND AN ANSWER.