Looking back at these photos, Portsmouth and Portland seem to be all brick buildings, historic streets, and good eats, but the two towns felt quite different. Portsmouth, NH was a small New England town like something from a storybook, complete with a whitewashed church and central square. It took all of an hour to wander around its narrow streets before we settled on lunch by the waterfront. I tried my first lobster roll of the trip and nearly inhaled it before remembering to take a picture for posterity! I needn't have worried though because this was only the first of three times I'd eat lobster on the trip.
We then strolled back to an ice cream store we'd passed earlier called Annabelle's. Best decision ever: This little hole-in-the-wall was home to some of the best ice cream on the New England coast and had been featured in all sorts of travel publications. To this day, the boy swears up and down that the vanilla ice cream in the cookies n' cream flavour he got is the best he's ever had.
It was about 2pm by the time we decided to leave Portsmouth for Portland, ME with a stop along the Maine coast on the way. There's nothing quite like the ocean to invigorate your spirit: the briny air, the crash and lull of waves on the rocky shore, the endless horizon. We arrived in Portland around 4pm and instantly, as we drove into town, I began wishing we'd left Portsmouth a little earlier.
For one thing, Portland, ME is bigger. And hipper. In many ways it's a lot like that other Portland in Oregon, full of microbreweries and locavore restaurants and little shops that proudly carry goods made in America. My favourite store was Folly 101, which had the most adorable colour-coded houseware displays. I managed to only walk out with a little cream-and-blue polka-dot jug (made in New Jersey), although looking at these photos now I wish I hadn't exercised such restraint; all those red wares look so tempting! Another noteworthy home decor store was K. Colette, where I snapped up a peony-scented candle from Missouri.
Undecided about where to go for dinner, the boy consulted Google reviews and led us to Street and Co. for the best meal of our trip. We ordered a bunch of appetizers at this locavore gem and shared them to taste as many things as possible. Each dish was met with gusto and acclaim, but the most memorable for me was the countneck clams in tomato broth. These were not like the small, mealy, grit-ridden clams of the West coast, but plump and juicy with a tender sweetness—almost like mussels.
With full bellies and a day's worth of adventures to savour, we drove back to Boston and were in bed by midnight. Newport, RI was next on the itinerary, and we wanted to get a good night's rest.