Our New England adventure began on Thursday with a less-than-ideal airport in a less-than-ideal cruise port. We flew into Newark, where the smells of New Jersey greeted us in full force. From there, we took a quick cab ride to Port Liberty in Bayonne, where the smells kept growing stronger and stronger – I was afraid that I’d be seasick before stepping onto the boat. Finally, around 10:00 that night, Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas set sail for Portland, Maine – a welcomed change from Joisey.
We had a day at sea yesterday, where we realized the exact age margin on this ship. All you really need to know is that this is one of the movies being shown on board:
I wish that was a joke, but I can’t make this stuff up.
We woke up bright and early this morning to hop a trolley tour of Portland. The tour took us around the old cottage-style homes, including the birthplace of Longfellow. As an English major, when I hear the name “Longfellow,” I instantly think of Longfellow Deeds in the Adam Sandler movie Mr. Deeds…however, that was not the Longfellow our tour guide was referring to. I can easily see why Portland, even centuries ago, could have inspired a poet of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s nature. The seaside town has beautiful views and, I’m sure if we had caught it at the right time, the changing leaves would be magnificent, too (New England’s Indian summer has unfortunately delayed changes in the fall foliage – everything is still green).
Our tour stopped us by Portland Head Light, supposedly the most photographed lighthouse in the world. It’s not hard to see why:
Portland’s downtown area is quirky, like a mini-San Francisco, with all locally-owned businesses, including more coffee shops than I could even begin to count. The locals are surprisingly young, everyone owns a dog, and the hipster scene here rivals that of Athens. We drove by several groups of protestors and even had a small traffic jam while waiting on some protestors to cross the street.
Protesting, as I witnessed in Athens, is a way to up your hipster points by several thousand. Bandanas, owl jewelry, tattoos of cassette tapes, clothes with flocks of sparrows, and wayfarer sunglasses also increase hipster points.
According to our tour guide, Portland has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the U.S. besides San Fran. I’ve been looking forward to some fresh New England seafood since we booked this trip, so we had to try out one of the hundreds of restaurants in Portland. We chose Gilbert’s a spot recommended to us by some locals, and enjoyed fresh clam chowder, clam strips, and clam cakes (clam, clam, clam). Dad, on the other hand, made the mistake of ordering a whole lobster, which required some intense cracking.
I don’t even want to go into details, but the inside of a lobster is not all clean, juicy, white meat. Some of it is green and makes you lose your appetite entirely.
After this, and some fudge shop-hopping (free samples!), I debated on channeling my inner Portland writer by grabbing my laptop and heading to a local coffee shop. One day, I plan on telling my grandchildren, who will undoubtedly grow up in a world that’s one big wifi hotspot, how far I had to walk on my vacations for free wifi.