I will admit that I hadn’t thought about visiting Maine until I saw Ingrid Nilsen’s snapchat of her holiday there which showed donuts, coffee and cute shops galore. I did no other research before booking our stay there and I have zero regrets because those snapchats perfectly encapsulate what Portland is about. It is the ultimate place to go if you are into organic food, quirky shops and places with a bit of a hipster vibe.
On our first day we had a little wander around the town – I spied so many shops I wanted to go in to but we had agreed to not go into everything on one day as it is a slightly smaller city compared to the other three we stayed in.
Instead, we hopped onto the ferry to Peaks Island and had a lovely little hour discovering all of its secret beaches & picking out the houses we would retire in. The island is worth a visit if the weather is good and you fancy having a little wander or a bike ride. However, it is fairly small and is generally where people go to retire so there isn’t a great deal happening. If you’re looking for some peace & quiet though, it is perfect!
During our walk around town we stumbled across a music venue called One Longfellow Square and spontaneously decided to buy tickets for a gig that evening. We ended up watching a very intimate little gig with Suitcase Junket, a one man band with some insane talent. He plays a guitar he found in a dumpster, creates crazy sounds with his mouth and has percussion instruments made out of various random objects such as a cook pot and a shoe. We really did find a little gem by taking a punt on something we thought sounded cool and it was totally worth it. The atmosphere was great with everyone singing along and Matt (Suitcase Junket’s real name) telling us lots of funny anecdotes in between songs.
Originally we were supposed to go whale watching on this day but the company we booked with cancelled it due to bad weather offshore. We were gutted but decided not to waste the day and instead walk the 5 miles to the lighthouse in South Portland. Obviously, you can drive or get public transport there but we fancied getting a little exercise. We walked through gorgeous suburbs and even though it took a while we felt a sense of achievement when we reached the park where the lighthouse is. Unfortunately, we then saw that the lighthouse was covered in scaffolding so we couldn’t get a classic Portland postcard picture! Despite the long walk and disappointing lighthouse situation we did have a lovely time lying on the grass and watching the waves.
We explored more of the Old Port and I totally fell in love with all of the shops! I recommend Holy Donut – they make their all donuts from scratch and have the most amazing flavours like Dark Chocolate Sea Salt! Next door to them is B.Good which is a vegetarian fast food restaurant. I got a quinoa bowl full of deliciousness for a very low price in comparison to others I had seen in the US. It really is true how cheap burgers etc are in comparison to a healthy option.
If you are into thrift stores or shops with lots of random little things, Portland is the place for you. I could have spent a LOT of money but was conscious of how little space I had in backpack so restrained myself (with a lot of difficulty).
Our air BNB was very close to the East Promenade and we had heard a lot about paddle boarding there. Unfortunately, a lot of these activities are closed until after Memorial Day which is when ‘the season’ starts. This same rule is applied to the Portland Observatory which was so close to our condo but was closed! So if you are headed to Portland after Memorial Day please go and see/do these things and let me know if they are good!
Instead of paddle boarding we spent some time sitting on the beach reflecting on our adventures and the academic year that is now behind us. We have both been on a mammoth journey in the past 10 months but I’ll save talking about that for another blog post.
Portland has definitely claimed a soft spot in my heart and I can see myself going back there someday.
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