A Maine Love Affair

Portland Travel Blog

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The Friendliest Place on Earth.

No, that would not be Tennessee, South Carolina or any of those other states below the Mason Dixon line. Prior to this weekend, I would have never thought people from any New England state could rival the friendliness and hospitality of Southerners. Then I went to Maine.

EVERYONE wanted to talk to us, tell us their life stories or simply or relay a recent incident that had happened to them. First there was the chick at Banana Republic who took notice of Liz's D.C. and struck up a convo about American University, then the girl at Target who kept blabbering on about her previous day's purchases and how she was going to start making her own clothes - long after we had paid and walked away, then the hippie-dippy guy at Stonewall (the Maine equivalent of Williams Sonoma), then the check-out lady at the L.L. Bean outlet, THEN the check-in guy at the Jet Blue counter at the airport who spotted my L.L. Bean purchases and wanted me to know about the time his wife shopped for him there and mixed up his measurement. Did Liz and I just scream "friendly Southerners" and thus people wanted to engage in conversation with us? Or is Maine just so boring a place to live that we provided much sought-after entertainment? OR are they really just displaced Southerners? I like to think one and/or three are the case.

Maine is a weird place, albeit beautiful. First of all, what is the obsession with the ice cream?? I mean, seriously. Liz made the keen observation that really Maine is just a state full of lobster joints, ice cream parlors and Asian restaurants. I'm inclined to agree.

And who knew I could blow more money on a weekend of shopping in Maine than I typically do in an entire month in New York City? If you heed Liz and my advice (Go to Maine! Before you die!) then I suggest you either save for months in advance or avoid the Kittery outlets altogether because they WILL leave your wallet empty.

Liz and I knew we were in for a fun weekend when we arrived in Portland after midnight Friday night and went to retrieve our rental car, which was all of $40 for the weekend and a GRAND PRIX, which is perhaps even a step down from the boat-like CHEVY HHR that we drove down to Tennessee in May. We did not get to do any apple picking like planned, but we did drive through Kennebunkport and dream about the days when we can afford summer homes there and/or Liz can dress her kids in preppy Nantucket red polos and khakis and ship them there for summer camp or boarding school, find our favorite Maine pitstop OGUNQUIT, sample a lobster roll, wander the cobblestone ways of downtown Portland, visit Fort Williams and take pictures of the <a href="http://www.portlandheadlight.com/">Most Photographed Lighthouse in the World</a> (or so the locals say), and clean Kittery out of house and home, of course. (Side note: If you do, in fact, venture into the far depths of the Northeast, you must eat at Fore Street in Portland. YUM. You must not, however, stay in the Sheraton in South Portland. Ew. Double ew.)

We got such bewildered reactions when people heard where we were jetting off to for the weekend (aside from the whole lesbian factor of the weekend...at least we opted for the Sheraton over a quaint New England B&B...we'll say it was for street cred purposes, but really B&Bs in those parts are just a little out of our price range). Our friends and colleagues just could not comprehend why we would go to Maine by choice. Is it not enough that we a) didn't grow up in the Northeast and, thus, have never before crossed the Maine stateline, b) wanted to see some New England fall foliage and c) simply longed to see one of The Most Beautiful Places on Earth (because it is)?
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photo by: mrgishi