I was really itching to get away this New Year’s weekend.
I debated going on a road trip, but wasn’t sure where to go, what to see, what to do. Living in New England, I’m surrounded by states that are close enough to drive to, but far enough to feel secluded from normal daily life. New York is too busy, too crowded – especially on New Year’s weekend. Boston is just too regular, I’ve been plenty of times. I was busy at work Thursday night, but in the back of my head I kept bouncing around ideas and was anxious to go on my break and do some research.
Then, a customer came in – she was shorter than me, maybe even under 5′ tall. She had a soft face, her voice was high and almost squeaky – matching her bubbly personality. She was shopping with her aunt, it was almost time for us to close.
I got to know the girl and her aunt – both of whose names I can’t remember. The girl told me she lives in Portland – and was visiting Rhode Island with family. I asked her how she liked Portland, what it was like, and if it would be worth a road trip. She continued to rave about the town and how it seemed like I would fit in well there.
It was my last night at work before 3 days off during the New Year weekend. I wanted to go home and book a trip instantly.
Within a few hours, our AirBnb was booked and our day plans in Portland, Maine had begun!
Sunday, January 1, 2017
We left early Sunday morning… “early” for us meaning about 9 o’clock. My New Year’s Eve had consisted of pizza, mac and cheese, champagne, blogging and photography with one of my friends – so it was no problem for me to be up and at it the next morning.
We started with breakfast at Brewed Awakenings – shout out to my dad for getting me the gift card for Christmas! Brewed has my all time favorite Iced Vanilla chai. Kyle ordered himself a Banana Hazelnut flavored coffee and regretted not getting the Caramel nut when he was less-than pleased with the taste.
Kyle was happy to drive us the whole 2 and a half hours into the winter wonderland of Portland. We played some of our feel-good albums in the background as we drove through state to state having endless conversations just about, whatever.
It seemed as if each album was assigned a state, and by the time we reached a new state line, the album was up. We begun with Rihanna’s ANTI as we completed the entirety of the highways in RI. This album is my personal favorite work by her. Then, as we drove through Boston we moved on to 808’s and Heartbreak by Kanye; Kyle’s choice. To finish up the good feeling as we started rolling into heavier snow and longer roads upon the entrance to Maine, there was Led Zeppelin and Gorillaz. These were more scattered songs instead of a full album.
We constantly had conversation going, and I couldn’t even tell you what about if I tried. We just spoke outloud anything that came to mind, and the other would respond in the same manner. We continued like this the entire ride. There was a point where we turned to each other and admired our ability as a couple to just… talk. To talk without stress, with ease, without getting into heated conversations or disagreements. And if we did disagree… talking about each of our opinions and being accepting or understanding of each opposition. Very few relationships can say they have that. We looked out my Kia’s windows and admired the travels and things we’d see. Bridges, cliffs, mountains of some sorts, cars, busyness, traffic and locations, colors, graffiti, houses. We have the same taste, we complimented and appreciated the same styles. I smiled as I felt so lucky to be in love with my best friend, my soul mate.
We arrived in Portland before 12:00, making great time considering what my GPS originally predicted. There was no traffic, it was a smooth ride aside for some annoying toll bridges.
We started by just walking up and down the brick alley one-way streets. I wanted to get well-aquainted with our area before making any decisions of where to settle for a bit. We bopped in and out of the small businesses on the main Exchange St. Most places were closed, rightfully so, being New Year’s day. We expected this, and made the best with what was open.
The very first place we stopped in was a comic store in what seemed like an old mill type of building. We walked up a half flight of stairs and then through a bright yellow painted hallway and ramps.
Downstairs was the CD/record equivalent of the comic store. Kyle and I had both never seen so much music and discs in one place, ever in our lifetime. It was incredible.
We strolled down a back street parallel to the main one, but closer to the wharf and port area. This particular spot reminded us of Newport back home in RI.
We stopped in a small, pub-like restaurant called Mash Tun (pronounced mAsh ton). They had us at “local craft beer” and “$6 grass-fed burger”.
This was the 2nd or 3rd place that I noticed made a point to market their meat with “grass fed”. Being someone who is highly aware of social ethics in the meat/food industry, I gave them huge props for this. I already had a good feeling about Portland.
There was only one other couple dining at Mash Tun. It was dimly lit, the tables and bar were chesnut colored wood. There were chalkboards all over the walls featuring their menu items, and a large one in the back with a list of their draft beers; the local ones underlined in chalk as well.
The staff was immensely friendly. They seemed to be only young guys except for one female cook on the grill (talk about switching up those gender roles, can I get an amen?!). The guys couldn’t have been much older than Kyle and I, one of them was playing with his new Bose speaker. The pub played some 50’s classic rock and roll and seemed to have a cheeky sense of humor and personality.
We ordered parmesan fries to share and Kyle sipped on a crisp Amber Ale brewed locally, right in Portland.
After leaving the Mash Tun, we wandered through the streets some more.
We picked up a bottle of champagne from a small, local gas station (we had to take advantage or liquor being sold in grocery stores, unlike Rhode Island’s law), before we parked on the street of our temporary home.
3:00 – Check In.
Our AirBnb was quaint and cozy, just like the higher-than-satisfactory reviews and pictures promised it would be. The style was lovely, modern and chic with a comfortable and desirable feel.
We settled in for a bit, each of us did some writing, organizing and got comfortable.
We drove back into Downtown Portland (Old Port), which was less than a 5 minute drive from our AirBnb. We stopped into a dive-y place called Pat’s Pizza, which seemed sporty and lively from the outside.
We sat ourselves upon entering. It was cold in the building, and there was only one girl working the entire bar and tables…
The service was less than pleasing, and the food was mediocre. I didn’t even take pictures for those very reasons. Kyle and I acknowledged the fact that she was the only person working and sympathized with her. We told her not to worry about us too much, we’re low maintenance, etc.
We ended up getting our drinks and salad removed from our bill (we always manage to get something fucked up and then not charged for it… it’s a reoccurring thing with us). So, we ended up getting what we paid for, service and food included. It was a cheap meal and just enough to satisfy us.
We went home and poured our glasses of champagne.
Monday, January 2, 9AM – Wake up – 11AM – Check out
Unfortunately, our stay at our temporary home was not nearly as long as we wanted, and we had to be out by 11am. We spent the morning making mimosas and snuggling.
I finished packing up our things, threw on some minimal makeup and made us coffee while Kyle wrote on the island in the kitchen with the light shining on the countertop.
11:02AM – Breakfast
I had gotten a recommendation from a friend of a few breakfast diners to check out while in Portland.
The building was right on the harbor, I’m assuming with a beautiful view and outdoor seating during the summer months.
We shared pancakes and a dish of homefries and scramby eggs and bacon. Everything was unbelievably delicious.
We started joking about who Becky really is, because we were infatuated with her food and restaurant. Our server was her daughter.
Just after 12PM – Exploring
After breakfast, we tried to stop by a few Art museums around MECA (Maine College of Art), but most were closed considering it was an observed holiday.
We found a small gallery along one of the main streets and took our time in there.
We walked further, and stopped in a book/paper store called Sherman’s.
They had a bunch of books but also lifestyle goodies, such as pens and journals and cards.
We asked a local where we could go just to sip coffee, relax and do some work. He led us around the corner to Bard Coffee.
The shop was hustling with busy people on their ways to whatever was occupying them.
I sipped on a latte and Kyle enjoyed a Moroccan mint green tea.
The ceilings were high and it was open and bright inside. We sat in a booth alongside the wall and pulled out our notebooks and laptop, and got to work across from each other.
The employees were friendly, hipster and bubbly. The patrons were a little busy and obnoxious; this one old man in particular. He was talking loudly on a phone call with someone… he had them on speaker… right next to us. *cringes*
We looked at the clock.
How long had we spent there? I asked.
Two hours had gone by of us just working, creating and vibing. Together, but on our own. I adore our ability to do that. That’s actually what we’re doing right now too, as I write these very words.
We stepped outside, into the winter world we had forgotten was right outside the walls of that coffee shop. I wanted to soak in the last hours of sunlight of the day.
Portland’s weather is great, honestly. Maybe we just got a lucky weekend, but it wasn’t miserably cold. We definitely had our hats and gloves and big coats and scarves on, but the air was pleasant. Unlike Rhode Island where the wind literally stings your face and makes your eyes water.
We googled a few places for dinner, in hopes to find some live music. We were unsuccessful. It was a Monday night and not much was going on for entertainment.
We bopped around into a few little stores, killing time until our stomachs were ready for dinner.
We spent a hefty amount of time in one jewelry/gem shop, where a woman named Alycia was behind the counter. She was spiritual, loud, bubbly, mystical and we learned that she was a psychic/energy reader. We had long, honest, conversations about enlightenment and the journey to it. She seemed to have really opened up to us, something Kyle and I tend to do easily to people. We left without buying anything, which I felt bad for, but nothing particular touched me the way Alycia did, and I think that was enough.
We decided on one place called The Old Port Tavern. It seemed well-known and popular.
Kyle had a prime rib dinner and I enjoyed some classic Lobster mac and cheese. (When in Maine… amiright?!)
We concluded our little trip with a stop by the Maine Mall to visit the LUSH there. It’s a goal of mine to visit whatever LUSH I’m closest to whenever I go on vacations. It was a small and quiet location. We stopped in the bathrooms, which were huge and clean, before heading out on our trek home to RI.
We settled back into my Kia. It was pitch black out now.
We got our comfier clothes on, socks, sweaters, packed our bags in an organized manner.
I was in the mood to watch a movie. I situated Kyle’s computer on the ground in front of my passenger seat, held his right arm and rested my head as he drove us onto the highway.
I would totally visit Portland again, and if I had to, I’d even pick the same exact AirBnb.
I made it a goal of mine to do more adventures like this in the new year. It really is inspiring and refreshing to see a new environment and a change of scenery.
I know it sounds cliché, but if you have the ability to travel, just do it. It is so worth it.
Speaking of which, I do have a link for an AirBnb discount if any of you readers feel like saving some money! We both get credit as soon as you book your first trip.
Have fun, explore, enjoy, love, create, live.
I hope you guys enjoyed reading about my New Year’s weekend!
Sending you love, always.
-Laura the Leo