When I saw the opportunity to work an overnight charter to Maine, I jumped on the opportunity! With my airline, overnights are rare, so it’s nice to pick up every so often and experience a new place. Between the afternoon flights on Friday and evening flights on Saturday, I had just enough time to explore Portland. Never having been to Portland, let alone Maine, I wasn’t sure what to expect…This little gem of a city stole my heart! The port, seafood, and architecture is quintessential New England, and the fall colors made it that much more magical.
As we descended into Portland, I had a dazzling view of the shimmering sea and inlets covered in fall trees of all colors. Our plane landed in Mac Air Airport, a swanky private airport decorated in sleek stone, tufted leather furniture and vintage plane memorabilia. Once we had our cars, we drove to our hotel and got ready for the night. Decked in a swishy sweater dress and my bright red coat, I met my coworkers to drive into town.
Driving into the city, I got my first glance of the New England style homes. Siding painted in bright red, green and blue, wooden shingles adorning the roofs and facades, and crisp white trim on the multi-paneled windows. Clustered together among brightly colored trees, you felt transported to November in the 1800s, when you’d see smokey chimneys and horse drawn carriages on cobblestone roads.
We arrived downtown and after a bit of walking, found a charming seafood restaurant on the water. As we descended down the walking bridge into DiMillo’s, once a huge car ferry, I admired the gleaming sail boats and fishing vessels on the now darkened ocean, lit faintly by the full moon.
Seated in a bi-level room of polished wood and classic maritime decor, we enjoyed soft bread and butter with our drinks. I indulged in a tangerine martini, crisp and tart. As we waited for our food, our hunger grew seeing the other patron’s delicious plates of fresh seafood and creamy pasta. Once it did arrive, we were not disappointed! The pilots and engineer cracked in to a full red lobster with butter, while the other flight attendants enjoyed crab cakes and pasta primavera. I shared a dish of decadent lobster Mac and cheese with my co worker, so creamy and rich, with a slight crunch from the panko crumbs.
Our bellies full, some turned in for the night, while the rest of us decided to explore the town more. We happened upon a cobblestone street filled with bars, and decided on having some after-dinner drinks. We enjoyed a country western bar with saddles for seats and a “stock exchange” bar where the prices change in real time based on supply and demand. Though lively with music and patrons, the bars weren’t crushed with people and were very relaxed. Not one for the usual bar scene, this was a pleasant surprise. Our night was cut short when one of our licenses was lost while giving some change to a stranger, so we ended our evening with some chatter around the fire pit back at the hotel.
The next day, after a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, we drove back in to the city for some shopping and site seeing. Every building was charming with its historic Victorian detail and goods prettily displayed in the shop windows. We meandered through town, enjoying the Scottish bagpipes playing in the background (a random occurrence we never figured out what was for), and picking up a few tokens to remember the trip. I bought a little red lobster ornament with jingle bells from a maritime tourist shop, to adorn our travel themed Christmas tree.
As we went in and out of random shops that caught our eye, we discovered a donut shop that buzzing with people. Wanting to know what the fuss was about, we discovered a unique bakery that made donuts with Maine mashed potatoes! The Holy Donut sounded strange but worth a try, and it turned into a deliciously local culinary experience. Slightly denser than normal donuts, the heavier texture held in delicious favors that melted in your mouth. We each got a different donut to share, and it was a fun experience to try quirky favors. Dark Chocolate with Cinnamon Sugar, Maine Apple, and Triple Berry were among the favorites.
After our scrumptious treat, we explored the city a bit more, then decided it was time to see something truly New England, a lighthouse! We drove to the nearest one, the Portland Breakwater Light, and were in awe of the rocky shore and dainty Grecian style lighthouse. Though the smallest lighthouse I’ve ever seen, its historic detail and curving stone path were breathtaking on the sapphire ocean. The salted air crisp on our faces, we enjoyed some time watching the sailboats glide across the waves as we leaned over the iron railing of the lighthouse.
With only a couple hours before we needed to report for duty, we found a local seafood restaurant near the hotel. Casual and family-oriented, this little spot with checkered table cloths and simple decor was the perfect place to grab some lunch. Among our table, we enjoyed a tuna roll, lobster roll and crab melt, all equally delicious. Also needing something for the flight home, I got some crab cakes for the road, so I could enjoy once last scrumptious Maine seafood treat.
Though my time was short in Portland, it was immensely enjoyable, a trip to come back with my husband is already on my list! If you are in the area, I highly recommend this charming place.