Friday, December 3, 2010

The Charm of the Third Visit: Portland, Maine

2 Lights State Park
York Beach

Portland is quickly becoming my respite, where I can leave life behind and dream of the day I can live here full time. This is the third time I have arrived. Chapter 1, in late spring meant the discovery of the Rabelais Bookstore, Hugo's, the Standard Baking Company and the Farmer's Market. My abode? The Higgins Inn in Cape Elizabeth was simple and inexpensive. The compromise of thin walls was being feet from the beach. I day-tripped it in late August and was treated to heirloom potatoes and fall tones of squash at the Market.

This time I stayed in Portland at the Inn at St. John. A friend had alerted me that is on the outskirts of town. And, it is true, when I saw the location-both gritty and far enough away from sites to require a car, I got nervous. But once inside, I was more than pleased. It is completely sound-proof, quiet, with free parking, Keurig coffeemakers and wireless access. The room was clean, spacious and had a lovely tub for soaking. You can stay for as little as $50 or splurge for a "suite" that hovers around $100.

Once again I was struck by the kindness of Portlanders who are always more than willing to offer up food suggestions. And per usual, they were right. The treasures on this escape (and with posts to follow in future weeks!): a drink and appetizers at Grace (a restaurant in a former Church!), dinner at Bresca and coffee at Arabica. And, of course, many more recommendations that I have to come back for a meal at Miyake. The laid back atmosphere of this place, the smell of the sea, the allure of local food, the art is all compelling to start planning my retirement now.

This time I indulged in a pie from Two Fat Cats. The mixed berry (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries) was pretty close to homemade perfection. At Standard, the counterperson encouraged me to try their whole rye bread. Thick and dense, it is perfect with slices of cheddar. Meanwhile, I returned to 158 Pickett for a delicious pimento cheese spread slathered on their homemade bagels. Eaten at the beach, it was a pretty wonderful breakfast.
Higgins Beach, Maine
On top of Portland glories, I added a few beaches this time. Near perfect solitude and crashing waves existed at York Beach. The Higgins Beach is a more peaceful respite where you may catch a glimpse of surfers while dogs race across the sand. However, what captured my heart this time was Two Lights Park in Cape Elizabeth. This glorious site can be viewed from benches at the top. Or, if you aren't feint of heart and have good shoes, you can climb on jagged rocks to watch the waves pound by. It is existential beauty at its best.


  1. I love, love, love Portland and can't wait for my next visit!

  2. Your pictures are beautiful. I have never been to Portland and now want to.