Friday, April 14, 2017

New England 2017: From Portland to Popham Beach, with plenty of diversions in between.


Before proceeding with highlights of a loooooong Day Two in Maine, kindly note the standard disclaimer.

As is my usual custom, I'll be posting photos, commentary and links about our trip; the daily accounts will be back-dated to coincide with their occurrence. It won't be the most thrilling reading, but in addition to whatever else NAC may or may not have become over the years, it's still a personal blog, and you're fully entitled to views of our holiday.

Now, back to Portland.


The Confidentials are fans of Airbnb, and for our three nights in Portland, we opted for an absolute beauty -- a fully furnished apartment above a detached garage.

The hosts were lovely, and the location on Bolton Street was excellent. It's less than twenty minutes on foot to The Great Lost Bear pub (an account is forthcoming), and the walk downtown is long, but still suitable for experienced and stubborn hoofers who aren't in a hurry.

As a side note, New England architecture can be very different. As an example, these consecutive, three-story, identical apartment houses up the street.


It's known as the Libbytown neighborhood, and a two-minute stroll from the Airbnb toward Congress Street yields two indie gems: Tony's Donut Shop and Anania's Variety Store. Both of them have been in business for more than 50 years.

Anania's is on the left, and Tony's on the right.


For an impression of Tony's, New Albanians might try imagining Honey Creme, albeit three or four times bigger, with space for visitors to sit and chat while drinking their coffee.

I'll always cherish listening to a morning conversation of the regulars at an adjacent table, which was unavoidable given the booming voices of these Portland residents. As opposed to an analogous likely scenario in my hometown, the senior citizens at Tony's were fiercely critical of Donald Trump.

Refreshing -- as were the donuts and no-frills black coffee.


Anania's is a convenience store with beer and a deli counter. Sandwiches, pizzas and full meals are available. It's designed to be carry-out, as there are only three stools by the window, and that's it for the seating options. For a light lunch on Friday, a lobster salad sandwich worked well (Diana's scrumptious Italian sub not pictured).


Anania's also has critically acclaimed Whoopie Pies ... and they're delicious.


The hours of activity between breakfast and lunch found us on a long walk from our room to downtown Portland, passing through the campus of the University of Southern Maine, and ending at the Maine Historical Society for a look at an exhibit, 'World War I and the Maine Experience'.

The exhibit was informative and sobering, and while browsing through the gift shop, I learned that one of my preferred "expert" commentators in the recent PBS documentary series about World War I, writer Richard Rubin, turns out to be based in nearby Brunswick.





Also present in Brunswick is Lively Brewing at Ebenezer's Brewpub, and after lunch, we drove there by way of Freeport, where Diana lived for a time as a child. She says that this very big Native American spotted on the way has been there for a long time.


And yes, you've definitely heard of Freeport, because it is L.L. Bean's company town, and many of my wife's relatives work there or have in the past.

Ebenezer's was good, and after restorative Bitter, it was time to head for the ocean.


Personally, I believe all recruitment centers should be placed adjacent to breweries.


As for why we were on a dirt track through the Maine woods, I refer you to the nearest available volume of "What to Do with Your Rental Car."


We arrived at Popham Beach State Park as the sun was about to set. Those photos are coming in the next installment.

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