M and I met at the airport on friday morning. We had a 9:30am flight to Manchester NH, which left right on time. I was worn out and had gotten up early (like 6:30!), so I had a bit of a snooze on the plane. By the time we got to NH though, I was ready to go.
Unfortunately we had another couple of hours drive before a whole lot of excitement could happen. We got a cute little red car quickly and got on the road. Crossing into Maine, we found a place off the highway to stop for lobster rolls. Pretty touristy, but yummy anyway -- especially since by then we were starving!
Eventually we made it to Portland and found our hotel. It was a good room, kind of in the middle of town, with a pretty view of the water. After we got settled in, we decided to go exploring. First on the agenda was a drink at Gritty McDuff's. After that, we went in search of the waterfront.
We had read that there was a decent fireworks show on the water, so we went wandering to the beach then walked along it until we found the park. Upon finding the park, we decided to explore more. At this point we got a little turned around, and we couldn't find a good place to get dinner. My feet, looking cute in their impractical sandals, gradually got more and more tender. Eventually they became a continuous mass of pain, and the walk was no longer fun. Finally we made our way back to the waterfront, settled onto my blanket, and I got to get off my poor blistered feet.
At that point, the evening got better. We relaxed on the hill, enjoying the weather, boat-watching, and people-watching.
The harbor was beautiful, and it was gradually filling with more and more boats which were gathering to watch the fireworks. We got some carnival sausages, lemonade, and fried dough. Yum! Gradually the sun set, and eventually the fireworks began. The fireworks were really impressive! Much more so than I had expected for a relatively small city.
Before we called it a night, we visited another cool little bar, Bull Feeney's. It was a neat little place, with a very cool logo that reads: Lobsters Love Guinness. Later I got M a t-shirt, 'cause I liked the slogan so much.
Saturday we slept in, which was glorious. When we finally awoke, we ordered room service. Even more glorious! After an incredibly lazy and relaxing morning, we finally got up and got moving.
We began our exploration by finding our way back to the harbor and checking out ferry options. We'd been wanting to take a lighthouse tour on the water. We found the coolest boat, an old schooner built in 1924 named the Bagheera, which looked like a perfect way to explore the Portland waters and lighthouses.
We picked up some beverages and snacks, then went onto the boat for a two hour tour. (Not a three hour tour, those are dangerous!) It was a beautiful afternoon on the water. We saw several lighthouses, but no seals. It was worth it anyway, peaceful and fun.
After the two hour tour, it was lobster time. M had gotten a recommendation of a really neat lobster shack out on a rocky point looking onto the ocean, right by a lighthouse.
I was really shocked when we ordered our lobster dinners: the girl rang us up, then pulled two live lobsters out of a tank right next to the register. She put them in a little net, then tossed them into boiling water. I saw my dinner alive! I mean, if I'm going to eat things which were living, I'm quite aware that they will transition from living to not-living at some point. However I've never watched it actually happen before. It was crazy, but neat... it is also not possible for my dinner to be fresher.
The dinner was delicious, eaten at a picnic table overlooking the ocean. Just a lovely way to spend an evening.
Sunday was another relaxing morning without alarm clocks, although we got moving slightly more rapidly than the previous morning. We had a bite to eat, then went wandering around town. We did some browsing and shopping at various little stores, then took a ferry ride out to Peaks Island.
On the island we walked around for a bit, then stopped for lunch at a restaurant recommended by people we'd met on the schooner the day before. We also took a moment to dip our feet into the water. I've always felt that whenever I visit an ocean, it is essential to dip my feet in. The water was pretty darn cold, but it was still fun to roll up my pants a frolic in the ocean a wee bit.
After lunch, we found a place that rented old bicycles. For $5, I had a fancy-schmancy bike to ride around the island. M said it looked like the bike ridden by the Wicked Witch of the West at the beginning of the movie. I agree, and it was ricketey, but that front basket was handy. And it was good fun to be pedaling around checking out the whole island's shoreline. A perfect afternoon!
After the ride, and a bit more exploring, we caught the ferry back to Portland. I managed to spend all day sunday without once putting on my fleece jacket! M was very proud of me, since each day prior I'd gotten cold enough (even thought it was the middle of July) to need my fleece.
When we got back, we enjoyed more strolling around the city, looking for little souvenirs to remember our fun trip by, and saying goodbye to Portland. It felt as though the evening of walking around before fireworks, with feet hurting, was FOREVER ago. We crammed so much into just a few short days. For dinner we had some fish and chips at Bull Feeney's, then regretfully climbed into our car and started the drive back to New Hampshire.
M came to Lebanon with me, and I gave him a very brief tour of the area where I work. I allowed him to enjoy my luxurious hotel room (from which I am typing this very journal entry!), then early monday morning he drove back to the airport and flew home. I, on the other hand, strapped on my backpack and walked to work. Vacation over, it was time to start colo-ing. I have discovered that it's a little weird having my vacation be over but still not be home.... Tomorrow I finally head back to the airport myself, and I'll be home friday night. I'm looking forward to it!