What does Portland, Maine compare to…?
It’s a yard worker, sitting beside the water’s edge, looking out over the harbor. His pant legs are frayed to the shape of the top of his boots, and he’s eating a gourmet lunch from a high-tech lunchbox.
Portland is a happy mix of old and new. The waterfront is a real commercial force – hauling $616.5 million in fish, alone. And that’s not all –
The wharves and quays are home to numerous tour boat companies, ferry boat companies, tugboats, container terminals, shipyards, yacht brokers, restaurants and bars.
The balmy summer months, bring schools of swarming tourists. And every Autumn, cruise ships spill thousands of souvenir–seeking–leaf-peepers onto the town like pregnant seahorses.
Moving up the hillside is downtown – where 18th century, federal style, buildings sit uncomfortably next to their modern, multi-storied, grandchildren. The new generation is made from different stock; triple pained glass; brushed stainless steel; and polished basalt. The new generation stands brazenly next to their aging ancestors.
The emerging modern city is rising from the clunky cobbled streets – which are quickly disappearing into the sinkholes of time.
Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of the city is its food.
Restaurants and micro-breweries are as numerous as the lobster pot buoys on the bay. You can find the entire spectrum of fares – every ethnicity and taste….even a vegan will not feel out to pasture in this town.
Some experts say Portland come second to only San Fransisco. And if you consider the resource of seafood within its reach, reports, like above, may not be such a far stretch.
Add, fresh local ingredients, unique New England cooking traditions, and the continually rising tide of local breweries – about 40 in Maine and 22 in the Portland area alone – the perfect storm is born. Although, in this case, the conditions are favorable.
As for Mainer’s, don’t let their modest demeanor fool you. They’ve been at it a long time. Hard winters have tempered their souls, and maybe calloused their hearts a tad –– but, the bounty and beauty of thier land keeps them cheerful. Cunning characters for sure, and it dwells beneath a seemingly childish naivety. I’m certain they greet visitors with, “Hi, how ya doin’?” – but in the back in of their mind, they’re saying, “When the hell are ya leaving?”
That may be too harsh, because they are proud and happy to be called Mainers, doesn’t mean they’re all unkind.