(Did you miss our Freeport area adventures? Read about them here.)
Portlandia(s). I don't know if it is a coincidence, but Jeremy and I have soft spots for both PDX and Portland (East). Waterfront city? Check. Known for their food scene? Check. Penchant for craft brews, pup-friendliness and focus on sustainability. Check, check, checkity-check. We didn't have nearly as much time as we wanted to explore Portland (East), but we know we will come back for more adventuring.
Leaving Jeremy behind at Recompence to hang with the hounds, I snuck away one day with my dear friend Priscilla for lunch in Portland. We chose Otto Pizza after a call for recommendations on good Portland eats from my friends on Facebook. Otto Pizza in Portland is the original, having opened in 2009. Otto has since established additional pizza locations in the Boston Area.
Priscilla and I started with salads, if only to offset the richly delicious pizza that would be following. The Roasted Chicken, Caramelized Pears and Fontina Cheese pizza was fantastic, a combination you don't often see on a pie. We washed down our mid-day meal with regional favorite Down East Cider, which I give two thumbs up.
We finished up our day together with some more outlet shopping in Freeport. Thanks to Priscilla, I managed to upgrade my tiny wardrobe and achieve a little more "hiker chic".
The following day, Jeremy and I both ventured into Portland to explore the city together. We fueled up for what turned out to be our long day of walking with breakfast at Standard Baking Co. Family owned and operated since 1995, Standard Baking Co. is known for its traditional, homestyle European breads and pastries made with locally sourced ingredients.
We sat at the pier directly across the street from the bakery to eat our selection and drink some piping hot coffee - perfect for the cold morning that settled on Portland. After chatting with a gregarious local water taxi driver waiting for a pick-up, we packed up and made our way east to walk the Eastern Prom Trail.
We started at the Commercial Street trailhead, situated right next to the port building for nearby docked cruise ships. We made our way northeast along the trail, curving around the peninsula northwest until we reached the Tukey Bridge. From here we took the Loring Stairs up and back in towards the piers where we started our day. During our two hour hike we were able to explore the waterfront, some manicured public parks and wooded trails. I highly recommend spending a few hours on the trail if your find yourself in Portland in good weather.
Along the way, we walked through the Munjoy Hill neighborhood. The style of homes and character we saw reminded us very much of our old neighborhood of East Nashville. We hydrated at the Hilltop Coffee Shop where I had the best spicy chai of my life. I've been ordering dirty chais for the last 10 years of my life, but at Hilltop there was a new-to-me twist. You could choose between sweet or spicy chai. The spicy came with a warning that I briefly considered before committing and going ahead with it. While the chai was definitely the most spice-packed I've had, I certainly did not find it too spicy to drink.
After our caffeine pick up, we headed back to the commercial center of Portland alongside the wharf. Be sure to check the port schedule when you are in town. We battled the cruise ship crowds to peek into some stores, but were able to watch some late-day lobster boats arriving with their haul and to grab some lunch without much wait.
The Porthole Restaurant and Pub was tucked away on the side of one of the downtown piers. We grabbed a water-side seat and filled up on some more fresh seafood. The lobster roll was packed with large, sweet pieces of fresh lobster meat. A perk to this place was that you could order the lobster roll with mayo (traditional) or have the roll with melted butter (we will call this "the Jeremy").
After five nights at Recompence Shore Campgorund, we wanted to extend our stay in Maine and the weather cooperated to get us somewhere closer to Acadia National Park. Our timing left us with few options, as most of the campgrounds had shuttered for the season. However, we stumbled on another gem at the Narrows Too Camping Resort.
The location of Narrows Too campground is convenient to Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park as well as nearby retail and restaurants. The campground is a Thousand Trails site which offers discounts to Thousand Trails members, which we are not. The campground is waterfront and has a few prime sites that are on the water that also have a little privacy between rigs by way of thin strands of trees and brush (sites 311-317). There is also ocean access for kayaking, canoeing or zoning out and enjoying the waterfront, the latter of which we did several times during our stay.
With Velma the Viper leveled and hooked up, we were ready to get into the woods and explore some of Maine's natural beauty. Off to Acadia National Park, next!
* See anyone you recognize in the photo below? We - very literally - stumbled upon this group taking a photo at the end of one of the piers in Portland. There was a ton of camera gear and equipment stacked up beside the warehouse in front of them, and everyone seemed to be dressed alike. These two things had us intrigued, but we couldn't place our finger on anything about this scene, just yet. Once we got home and zoomed in on the photo, though: Barbara Corcoran (of Shark Tank fame) is in the middle, posing with the cousins from Cousins Maine Lobster! We assume this must be for a follow-up episode we'll see on Shark Tank soon enough.