PortlandMost appropriate that I barely caught my breath after arriving in Portland, ME, before embarking on a food tour. This city of only 66,000 people has 300-plus mostly independent restaurants. The combination of reasonable, one-year-long rental rates and immediate access to lobster and other seafood has created a Mecca for food lovers.
Tip: It was raining steadily so we drove between spots, not a bad idea although parking can be a challenge.
|Cheese, cheese and more cheese.|
|Kristin Bingham, wife,of chocolatier Dean.|
Tip: Try the Needham, a traditional Maine favorite.
|An array of spices to accompany the oils and balsamics.|
|Sip and pick a favorite.|
Tip: This would be a fun place to watch a sporting event.
|Two of the 150 bitters brands.|
Tip: None of these stops involve more than a few step ups to access.
|Measuring the catch.|
A Lobstering We Go
My favorite excursion was on the Lucky Catch lobster boat, where passengers not only get a tour of the harbor, but can tog up and assist in reeling in lobster traps, measuring the catch to see if any are keepers, re-bait and lower the traps back down. Gives you an appreciation of what it takes to retrieve these crustaceans and why they are so expensive on menus.Youngsters will love it.
|Fresh bait for the next catch.|
Tip: Lucky Catch is a working lobster boat but this an easy on, easy off excursion. You will sit on benches along the boat's sides.
Tip: While you are at the waterfront, the food tour guide highly recommended the food at Di Millo's as well as its two-hour happy hour and $5 tapas.
It was lunchtime, though, and the spot for the best lobster roll in town is Fort Williams Park and the Bite into Maine lobster roll food truck that parks on a gentle hillside across from the Portland Head Light.
|Portland Head Light.|
The lobster roll is worth the drive, the park is beautiful and if you get nowhere else in the state, this will give you a feel for what it would be like.
Tip: You eat on picnic tables so save this for a sunny day.
For a relatively small city, the Portland Art Museum has a very nice survey collection, which makes it a good destination for a rainy day.
Tip: Use the elevator.
OgunquitAn easy drive from Portland, Ogunquit is a hub for towns and villages that provide additional diversions, assuming you need any. Scenery is what you envision when you think of Maine, tall trees, promontories, big rocks and crashing surf.
|View from my Cliff House room.|
I can only hope the renovated spa is as good but better supported and more convenient for guests who, as I did, discover there are no bathrobe or slippers in the rooms. Now the resort is on three levels connected by long hallways, stairs and/or elevators and I suspect that won't change. Projected date of reopening is July 2016.
Another thing that probably won't change - and that is good - is the Jolly Trolley bus that connects the communities, accommodations, beach and attractions around you for $2 per person.
|Boats have right-of-way over pedestrians.|
|Good lobster rolls in here.|
|Lobster roll, fries and onion rings at Jake's.|
|Fresh potato chips and lobster roll artShore Road.|
To work off this excess of goodness, the last stop was a visit to the Nubble Lighthouse at Cape Neddick. This Coast Guard light station was built in 1879 and its surroundings sum up preconceptions of coastal Maine.
|Both photos of Nubble Lighthouse were made from the parking lot!|
Tip: The parking lot is nice and level.
Tip: There is always a rush for restrooms during intermission. Best bet is to go to the one adjacent to the outdoor tent and bar. A few steps up but better and faster access.