Memory scrapbook (idea from Mighty Girl): Portland, ME
Congress Street and Forest Avenue take you everywhere. Doesn’t matter HOW lost you get, if you can find your way to one or the other you can get from Point A to Point B.
The Old Port has lots of interesting bars and kitschy shops, but last call is 1:00am. Lame.
You can find north-south-east-west using the Eastland Hotel and the Time/Temp sign and orient yourself quite easily.
With the exception of a few major intersections, the lights go from green-yellow-red to flashing yellow or flashing red after a certain time of night. This makes a lot of sense, as I used to wonder why I was beholden to a red light if there was no one around for–literally–miles when I lived in Eliot. This is also sensible because coming west down High Street toward Forest Avenue when there’s two or three inches of snow is a trick and a half, never mind having to come to a full stop and then go again if there’s a red light.
Particularly up near Morrill’s Corner, there are a lot of specialty stores that carry the “buy local” insignia. Appliances, furniture, camera shops, the vacuum salesman’s place–definitely indicates that enough people in Portland eschew the big chains to keep a healthy Mom ‘n Pop atmosphere in the city.
The ice skating area off Forest Ave. near Rt. 77 south, Congress Street near Maine College of Art, and the Old Port have great light decorations up well past Christmas. They are lovely, especially in the snow, except for those few trees by the ice skating area that have red teardrop shapes that look like the trees are crying blood.
Becky’s Diner (“Nothin’ finah!”) has the best apple pie EVAR.
South Portland, Cape Elizabeth, and Scarborough are really not often worth the trouble of getting there.
The best socks in town can be found at L.L. Bean’s outlet downtown–$7 for a pair of “irregular (no idea what that means) SmartWool socks in varying lengths and cushions, but all super-warm. Love!
Munjoy Hill looks very pretty from the Marginal Way at sunset, especially with a light dusting of snow. Munjoy Hill is Portland’s version of a Monet painting.
The Downeaster train from Portland to Boston is $46 round-trip and possibly the most economical deal going–assuming lighting doesn’t hit the tracks in New Hampshire. Then all the signal lights blow out and you only get to go about 100 yards before the conductor has to call ahead and confirm that the NEXT 100 yards are clear. But there’s free parking at the Portland train station.