Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Ms. Hen reviews Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine

Ms. Hen recently went on a short trip to Portland, Maine. She wanted to get away for a few days and she didn’t want to go far. Usually when she goes on a trip, she travels to faraway places like Europe or Washington D.C., somewhere she can get on a plane and not have to worry about going in a car, since she is a bit driving impaired. She has her license, but she prefers not to drive because she finds it stressful.

Ms. Hen took the Amtrak from North Station to Portland. She has taken the train before, but most of the time, she has gone south to New York. She found the train to Maine less crowded and more pleasant than going south. She had two seats to herself the whole time back and forth. The trip takes about two and a half hours.

Ms. Hen stayed at a bed and breakfast place called the Inn at St. John http://www.innatstjohn.com. She picked the place because it was inexpensive and it was right near the train station. She walked in the door, and classical music was playing and the place was lovely. It seemed to her to be the kind of hotel where people go to have love affairs. She wasn’t having a love affair, and was initially nervous that the strange atmosphere would bother her, but it didn’t.

Ms. Hen at the Inn at St. John

The hotel is the oldest in Portland, and is a European style hotel, and it didn’t have an elevator. Ms. Hen was on the top floor. She didn’t realize how awkward the stairs were, or she would have taken the offer someone made to help carry her bags. Some of the rooms at the hotel have shared bathrooms, but Ms. Hen’s room had a private hall bath, which was the second cheapest room in the hotel.

Ms. Hen thought her room was charming. It was perfect for getting away for a few nights. It had a refrigerator, a coffee maker, a TV that she didn’t watch, bathrobes, and the people at the hotel left a basket of snacks. Of course free WIFI was available. There was coffee and tea in the lobby all day, but Ms. Hen is a coffee snob and she always brings her own, because hotel coffee is usually below par, and yes, the coffee at this hotel was as expected.

Ms. Hen didn’t have any concrete plans as to what she was going to do. She mostly explored the streets and looked at things, went out to eat, took pictures, and went shopping. She thinks it’s wonderful to be in a different place. The hotel is near the downtown area where a myriad of used bookstores and art galleries and restaurants are located. The first night Ms. Hen ate at a fantastic vegetarian Thai place called The Green Elephant, and she had Thai Basil fried rice with vegetarian meat and it was tasty.

It snowed the second day, and Ms. Hen decided she would walk to the Old Port area, which was a long walk from the hotel. She got lost and wandered farther than she should have. The day was cold. Ms. Hen had planned in advance that she would go to a place called The Blue Rooster for lunch because she liked the name of the place. She had a beet goat cheese sandwich and poutine tater tots, and she ate quickly, since the tater tots were hot, and she needed the warmth. The place is a café, and is very small, but the food was delicious.
Ms. Hen at the Blue Rooster waiting for her lunch

Ms. Hen walked around the Old Port area, and some of the streets were paved with cobblestones. There were lots of quaint shops, and it seemed like it would be packed in the summer with tourists. Many of the seafood places on the water were still closed for the season.

On her last full day, Ms. Hen went back to the Old Port District to search out some seafood for lunch. She ate at Gritty McDuff’s, a brewpub and restaurant where she enjoyed some baked stuffed haddock. The tables at the place were not the most comfortable; they were picnic table style, with seats that had no backs.

Old Port area

Ms. Hen always feels rushed when she eats at a sit-down restaurant when she travels alone. But she never feels rushed when she goes to a coffee shop, because the employees don’t pay attention to how long a person stays. Ms. Hen went to a few great independent coffee shops in Portland. She went to Yordprom Coffee, where she had an almond croissant and a soy latte; Tandem Coffee and Bakery, which is a converted garage, but Ms. Hen though it was too drafty inside; and Bard Coffee, in the Old Port area, where Ms. Hen went twice and loved the coffee and atmosphere.

Ms. Hen drinks coffee at Bard Coffee

Ms. Hen thinks it’s great to get away for a few days, with no grand plan and no expectations. She didn’t feel stressed or rushed, and she didn’t feels like she had to do absolutely everything on her list. She did some writing in her hotel room in the mornings before she went out. Portland Maine is trendy and cool in its own way, with a Mainer edge to it.

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