New England 2017: How to avoid Thunder by jetting to Portland, Maine for spring break.


Our 2017 “spring break” trip to New England occurred only because neither of us have been paying attention to the accumulation of Delta Sky Miles. Surely there wouldn’t be enough of them to pay for round-trip airfare, but the math worked.

We flew into Portland, Maine and rented a car, then drove it to visit Diana’s niece and her family in Massachusetts. The ten-day trip ended at the airport in Hartford, where the Prius was deposited and the flight home (via Detroit) commenced.

As is my usual custom, I’ll be posting photos, commentary and links; 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.

We began south of Portland. The institution known as Clambake Seafood Restaurant is situated just past the Scarborough Marsh.

The restaurant is not unlike a Munich beer hall, extensive and cavernous. There are seats for hundreds, and when the late lunchtime parking lot is reasonably full and the eatery still seems dead — that’s very big, indeed.

I concurred with Diana’s desire to consume a traditional multi-species fish fry, and so it was. I’m sure there are healthier ways to consume this much aquatic life, but there were no complaints from me.

After checking into our Airbnb room on Bolton Street, it was off to the Eastern Promenade to walk off the feast and breathe sea air.

There had been a late outbreak of winter weather only two weeks before, and several snow banks remained.

For our first evening in Portland, the stated aim was to experience Maine’s largest urban center in both older and newer incarnations.

Located since 1988 in the old port quarter, Gritty McDuff’s remains a great favorite of mine. In the midst of pervasive IPA mania, Gritty’s still brews a proper Best Bitter (4.8% abv), and I savored two of them.

On the more recent side of the caloric accumulation ledger, there’s Slab Sicilian Streetfood, located on Preble Street, less than ten uphill minutes by foot from Gritty’s.

Honestly, downtown Portland seems to be one vast food and drink emporium, and there are far more bars and bistros than any trencherman might navigate in a mere three days. The following day at breakfast, an elderly local was overheard expressing pride that people from Boston drive to Portland just to eat.

Slab was appealing owing to our recent visit to Sicily. Given the proximity to Derby, I was disappointed to learn that horse meat wasn’t on the menu, though the pizza and meatball sandwich were excellent, and the photo doesn’t do it justice.

We emerged from Slab happily redolent of pizza ovens and garlic, only to find ourselves faced with a major existential question.

How on earth had there been space for a second meal after all that fried seafood?