Portland, Maine wasn’t what I expected. I expected a cute, sea-side city with quaint shops and streets and seafood shanties. Granted, that’s exactly what Portland is and what it has, but it has a lot of other things going on, most noticeably, homeless people.
There are cute shops and great restaurants and fun bars, but they’re all located behind an overwhelmingly visible population of street people. I haven’t seen this many homeless people on the street since strolling down Market Street on a business trip years ago. It’s astonishing how many people brave the brutal weather here. California I can understand but Portland? Maine? It’s surprising.
Honestly, maybe it was the bleakness of the early spring, but I don’t know why I got so stuck on the homeless people in Portland. In Chicago, they were part of city life. In Austin, it felt weird that there weren’t more of them. And in Portland, like in San Francisco, it just feels like there are too many. We’re not doing enough to help each other out. I’ve got some sort of threshold for tolerance — some accepted number of people who I accept will fall out of society’s framework — and both Portland, Maine and San Francisco, California register above it.
Other than that, Portland’s a cool town. We had great tacos at Taco Trio, great seafood at J’s Oyster, fun southern food at Hot Suppa, and tasty drinks at a handful of bars (including Gritty McDuff’s and LFK). Full disclosure: We were cornered by the local drunk at LFK and he talked our ears off. We stayed at the Inn at St. John, a wonderfully quirky and reasonably-priced option where our private bathroom was located across the hallway from our room and the included breakfast options were amazing.
I really like that corner of the country, and I hope we can explore it more.
Want to experience northern New England without the homeless crowds? Check out Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We stopped in the area for lunch and it’s damn cute. But definitely get some food in Portland if you have the chance. It’s a delicious town. Next time, I’m camping out at J’s, only to venture out for the occasional Trio.