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Review of my trip: Portland to Bar Harbor to Camden

Philadelphia
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Review of my trip: Portland to Bar Harbor to Camden

So, I had such a wonderful trip this past month that I wanted to post what I did, where I went, ate, slept, etc. I find these forums so helpful, I wanted to share my journey for anyone else looking for advice or ideas for theirs. Or, of course, if you just want to talk about how awesome Maine is with me! Also, I'm at work, so this is going to be simple and to the point. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 3:

Leave Philadelphia at an ungodly early hour (5am?) and head to Portland, ME! Let me just say that we made awesome time!

On our way up my boyfriend insisted we stop at Flo's Famous Hot Dog's in Cape Neddick, ME for lunch. http://www.floshotdogs.com/. I'm not a hotdog eater, but these were damn good and it's quite a little roadside destination. A tiny little box, much like a railroad car, just barely tall enough for the average person to stand up straight in. You go in, place your order (and let me know tell you those ladies have some strict rules about how you can or cannot order your hotdog!), and then sit outside on the no fuss picnic tables right alongside route 1. It's quite charming really.

So, I'm the kind of person that wants to see and do everything so I thought it would be nice to do some sightseeing on the way up to Portland so I could see all of the towns that I had researched for so many weeks and decided not to stay in (because you can't do everything, right?). Well it made sense at the time, right? So we took route 1 most of the way up, through Ogunquit and Kennebunkport. It was very pretty but, my god, the traffic was unbearable (as I had read about). It took us 20 minutes to go the 3 miles to get into the town of Kennebunkport just to see the nearly 1 block stretch of tourist shops along the main drag. I'm glad we drove through it, it's beautiful of course... we came, we saw... but we were done with the drive-bys after that. We finally got to Portland by about 3.

We stayed at The Hilton Garden right there on the waterfront and the location could not have been better. We were easily within walking distance to everything we wanted to see and do. It's certainly pricey, but we had some Hilton Honors points. And, we had our very own celebrity sighting! Hope Davis shared the elevator with us. Who? Well, I'm an indie flick freak and I love her so I was stoked. My boyfriend was unmoved. We had some time to kill before check-in and the guy who parked our car at the hotel recommended we grab some beers at Novare Res while we waited. http://novareresbiercafe.com/. It's in it's own little alley and had an awesome beer selection. The outdoor picnic tables were perfect!

That night we caught the first few innings of a Portland Sea Dogs Minor League baseball game www.minorleaguebaseball.com/index.jsp… (my boyfriend's idea of course, but I'm all about compromise because I'm a bit of a vacation planning nazi) and I have to say, I had a really good time! After a long day of driving, relaxing outside while the sun set at a baseball game was kind of perfect.. very "American"... but perfect. Plus, there are no bad seats in that baseball park and the beer (yes, more beer!) was craft-brewed and delightful (unlike the choice of Bud and... Bud light that we get in Philly). We did take a cab to the baseball park to save time and it was only about $6 (totally recommended!). We ended the long day with a late night dinner of naked oysters, lobster stew, and lobster rolls at J's Oyster. http://www.jsoyster.com/. A classic must-see hangout in Portland (thanks to Anthony Bourdaine's No Reservations). And did I mention it was only two blocks from our hotel?

Day 2: We ate breakfast at Maggie's Diner. It was good... but nothing compared to the breakfasts to come! It was a diner, that's it. Plain and simple. We shopped. Or, I shopped. There are some great stores in Portland filled with lots of handmade crafts, art galleries, record stores, antiques shops, junk shops, etc. We did our own walking tour of the city. Lunch was at Duckfat. http://duckfat.com/. I could not be happier with our 3pm "lunch" here. And yes, even at 3pm it was busy but we only had to wait about 10 minutes for a seat at one of the bars along the wall. The paninis were killer, french fries and dipping sauces were outrageous, and their homemade cream soda blew my boyfriend's mind. Oh, and definitely try their truffle ketchup! The nap after this was also pretty awesome. We walked off some of our lunch on the promenade and followed the trails on the east end by the ocean. The the dog beach made me miss my dog!

Day 3: Hot Suppa! What a delicious way to start another long drive! If you are in Portland you must eat breakfast here. The fried green tomato eggs benedict was awesome! Did I mention I gained about 10 pounds on this trip? :) http://www.hotsuppa.com/. We had packed up and stopped here on our way out. It's up on the western side of town (?). On our way north we stopped in Freeport to stock up on camping necessities at the LL Bean store (camping lantern, hiking boots, and just to see the ridiculousness of the theme-park-like retail establishment) Our next destination was Bar Harbor, but not before stopping in Wiscasset for some antiques shopping and, of course, Reds famous lobster rolls. We were pretty dedicated to eating here due to my nostalgia from eating here as a child so we waiting in the hour long line. Yup, an hour. Maybe more? The staff at Reds even gave us some freshmade wild blueberry ice cream to sample while we waited. I'm pretty sure it was the best ice cream I have ever eaten!

In Bar Harbor we stayed our first night at the Acacia House Inn. A really nice Inn, a great sleep, but (and you can read my review on Tripadvisor for more detail) we had some weird interactions with the owner that kind of turned us off. Plus, our dinner at Guinness and Porcellis was less than desirable. We ended up eating there because we needed something else besides lobster after the 2 pounds we ate at Reds that day, but I don't recommend this place. Bar Harbor was nice, but a once-through walk-by window shopping all of the t-shirt shops was enough for us.

Day 4: After a less than satisfactory breakfast (again you can read my review) We packed up and headed out (in the rain) to begin our camping adventure in Acadia at the Blackwoods Campground. It was about 20 minutes outside of town. I am not much of a camper and the fact that it was raining was worrisome. All I could think about was wet socks. wet shoes. wet everything. But luckily the rain stopped, we had a 7 hour long day of intense hiking through some of the most beautiful trails and landscape with the most amazing views! Absolutely breathtaking! Hail to the weather gods! We did the Beehive, the ocean trail... and a couple others.

We ended the night with a drive to Thurston's Lobster Pound over in Bass Harbor. It was a beautiful drive, beautiful sunset, nice lighthouse, and I'm glad we got to see the rest of the island. The lobster, steamers, and local beer was perfect. Plastic bibs and all.

Day 5: More camping, more hiking! But not before Cafe This Way for breakfast... oh the breakfasts just kept getting better! yum! http://cafethisway.com/. We hiked over at the Jordan Pond area our second day. It was spritzing pretty much the whole day with some spurts of sun in between. I'm actually glad for the rain because it kept us cool on our hike. Plus, it made our chai tea, lobster stew and popovers all the better when we got to Jordan Pond House for lunch that afternoon. It was the perfect warm-up to a day of wet hiking. http://thejordanpondhouse.com/. The amount of lobster in that stew was plentiful and the chai tea was the best I have ever had. Not to mention I could eat the popovers by the bucket full.

Dinner at Burning Tree. tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60709-d52… DELICIOUS! Our server was terribly cute, everything she recommended was wonderful and the earl gray shortbread ice cream was uh-mazing!!! The wood-burning oven and the woodwork (and the wine!) made me feel like I was in Vermont in the winter-time. I can't use the word cozy enough here. It was another welcome treat after camping in the rain.

I do have to say that the Blackwoods Campground was pretty comfortable as far as the whole camping thing goes. We were super close to a very clean bathroom with full mirrors (not that I'm vain or anything, but I am a girl!) and just outside of the campground are clean showers with hot water. They are safe and coin-operated. Sounds creepy, but it really wasn't!

Day 6, 7, 8: 2 Cats for breakfast... and this topped them all! Oh man, what a breakfast. We packed up camp and headed back down south. But not before driving through Deer Isle to Little Deer Isle, to Stonington. I had heard a lot about this area and yes, it was beautiful, but I'm glad I didn't plan more than a drive through. It was still rainy, but Caterpillar Hill had a beautiful view, blueberry fields and all. The whole rain thing certainly made things damp, but the cloud formations and broken bits of sun made for some epic photographs and really made the landscape that much more powerful. We somehow missed the waterfall that I read about in Blue Hill and my boyfriend didn't understand the whole point of the 1-2 hour detour just to sightsee, but I'm glad I came, saw, and conquered. The bridges from each island were certainly noteworthy!

Day 6 took us back down south to Camden where we stayed for three full RELAXING, cozy nights at Captain Swift Inn. A great way to end a week of adventure! Almost like a vacation from our vacation. It's right in town, though removed a bit so you kind of feel like you walked off your dinner on the way back at night (yeah right!). This B&B certainly made up for the lack of welcome at Acacia House. The owner greeted us in an apron as the smell of freshly baked cookies wafted out from the kitchen. Fresh lemonade? Why, sure! The breakfasts here were great and filling, the rooms were nice and cozy, and the people were friendly and welcoming. They even had a DVD collection we could choose movies from to watch in our rooms in the evenings. We ate at 57 Bayview Bar and Bistro and had a wonderful meal! I think it's fairly new, but it was the best dinner we had in Camden. We also ate at Atlantica simply because we didn't feel like looking around and it turned out to be sub-par. We had lunch at Fresh one day and that too was sub par. They even told me they had run out of lobster rolls! All I could think was that even the hotdog guy in the parking lot had lobster rolls! really? They finally "found" some lobster and when they brought it out it was quite mealy. Not so good.

We took a sunset sail on the Schooner Surprise one evening and I totally recommend it. The couple that take you out have been doing it for years... they raised their children practically on the boat. They were hilarious and could certainly tell some stories. It was calm, uncrowded and relaxing. Not to mention stunning! We hiked Mt Battie and did a couple of the other trails around Camden which also had some amazing views. We also drove out to Pemaquid lighthouse, and this was just right after hurricane Irene, so the surf was fairly epic, albeit deadly! The town of Camden itself was the perfect seaside mid-coast Maine town. I was struggling with choosing between Boothbay Harbor and Camden, and I'm so glad I chose Camden. Now, we didn't actually get to Boothbay, but Camden was small and walkable... and calm, just the right amount of shops, restaurants, and activities. We found the greatest antiques store with a back room filled with old records in perfect condition. My boyfriend went nuts. So I'm glad he got to have his shopping spree on the trip!

The ending to end all endings? A dinner at Primo http://primorestaurant.com/ with a stop at the Farnsworth Art Museum http://www.farnsworthmuseum.org/ to check out the new Wyeth exhibit. Primo was definitely one of the best meals I have ever had. I really thought it was going to be all hype, that with all the amazing reviews I had read it would just be meh. But, the reviews were right, the meal was outrageous! Pricey, but outrageous. Anything we ate after that meal became simply average. We got there early to walk through the gardens and look at the chickens (whose eggs we ate poached in the farmer's salad with bacon lardons and parmesan! drooooool). There were pigs somewhere but I like pigs too much to equate them with my food. um bacon. yeah.

Now, I know I said I was going to keep it simple, but I couldn't help myself. If I had the time I probably would have broke down the dishes in every meal that we ate! But, I'm not. As I mentioned before, and even with all the miles of hiking that we did, I absolutely put on some pounds on this trip. The sign of a good vacation I guess. We had a wonderful time, amazing food, breathtaking scenery... I could not have planned or un-planned it any better. Even with some rainy days, I'm happy with everything that we did and I don't feel that we missed a thing. You have to save some things for next time, right? I hope this novel of a review gives some of you ideas about planning your trips! Or if you have any comments, questions, please feel free to contact me! I love talking travel. And food!

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1. Re: Review of my trip: Portland to Bar Harbor to Camden

I love your post. How was the traffic from portland to Camden?

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Camden
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2. Re: Review of my trip: Portland to Bar Harbor to Camden

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