As most of you have guessed by now, we’re back from our Maine vacation. And as always the trip has been great and I want to leave some notes for those who are interested, but mostly for my future self and my wife’s future self — before memories begin to fade that is.
We were able to leave relatively early, since Friday was a short work day for most — around 5pm. We loaded up our car (nice to have a big trunk with no junk in it) and took off via Belt Parkway to Portland, Maine through Connecticut, Massachusetts and so on.
We were very happy to get out of NYC without getting stuck in traffic — who would’ve thought? But soon enough everything was balanced out — some major accident on I-95 in Connecticut had us crawling for hours.
We even stopped near my work in Norwalk for dinner in a local brewery to let the traffic pass, but it didn’t help. It took us a good number of hours to pass through what should’ve taken 30 minutes maximum. But that didn’t matter. We had good company and we all were having a good time and a new adventure was awaiting us.
After that the drive was uneventful and long. It doesn’t mean that it wasn’t fun though. We got to Portland at around 1am and were sleeping by 2. Meanwhile Vika gave birth to a little baby girl, who they named Audrey.
From Portland To Augusta To Bar Harbor
The next morning we checked out of the hotel, ate breakfast at local Friendly’s and drove to downtown Portland. We stumbled upon an open Post Office, where we got our Portland stamp. Post Office happened to be right across from the city hall building.
After that we drove down to the old docks. That area of the town turned out to be full of tourists, little shops and restaurants. They day was mostly cloudy, but not rainy. We walked around the town for a couple of hours and soon after left for Augusta.
Augusta is the capital of Maine. While Portland, being Maine’s biggest city has only 60,000 people living it, Augusta was even smaller. It was much quieter and as it always is the capitol area was virtually deserted on a Saturday.
We walked around, took some pictures, drove to the bank of Kennebec River that passes through Augusta, ending up in a tiny town of Hallowell in the process.
The rest of the day we spent on driving to Bar Harbor. Bar Harbor itself is a small town that is located on Mount Desert island right on the edge of Acadia National Park. There was nothing notable on the way, except for everything being covered in all shades of green — a spring forest that has just recently been awoken.
The closer we were getting to Bar Harbor (driving south from Bangor) the more Lobster restaurants and pounds of all kinds started to appear. I just happen to remember all kinds of lobster places having large pots outside with steam coming out of large pipes attached to those pots. Maine and lobsters are synonymous to most people either way, and it started to become the same for us.
We got to Bar Harbor around 5pm.
Easily found our hotel (no chains, only small private places) and checked in. We were staying in a place called Bar Harbor Manor. We had a big suite with 2 bedrooms. They had several houses and we had a full 2nd floor of one of them. It was very nice, clean and cozy. It also had a big kitchen with everything in it and a big table with 4 chairs — this is where we ate our breakfast most of the days.
The town itself is pretty small — I would say about 10 blocks by 10 blocks. The street that we were staying on was very quite, but it took us only 10 minutes of walking to get to the busiest part of the town. The center had multiple shops, restaurants and was full of tourists. Those streets are also located right on the coast and the views are magnificent.
A very cozy little town and great place to spend time at on a relaxing vacation.
Bar Harbor is obviously a sea-food town. I personally have eaten barely any sea-food at all in my life time, but I decided I have to try some stuff since we’re in Maine.
For our first evening dinner the owner of our inn recommended we go to a simple place called West Street Cafe.
The place has simple wooden benches and tables, but it felt nice. We ordered mussels for an appetizer and everyone ordered different lobsters. My mom and Alena ordered whole lobsters, I ordered Lobster Scampi (aka lazy man’s lobster) and my dad ordered stuffed lobster, but the waitress messed up and he ended up with stuffed fish.
First of all I have to say that I tried mussels. Everyone was very impressed with this dish in this place, and I was able to eat it. That’s saying a lot. Also I was eating lobster, but I still have to say that I prefer steak to it. I think that was the consensus.
The next day we ate our dinner inside Acadia itself — Jordan Pond House
. The soup was rather weird, but for my main course I ordered a grilled chicken breast. It was extremely delicious.
On Monday evening we went to another place that was recommended to us by our inn owner — Galyn’s
. It was more of an upscale place and I think everyone liked it the most. I for a change ordered a steak, as did everyone else, but Alena. She said that she’s going to be eating lobsters while she’s in Maine and that’s what she did. The way she put it was that she’s going to keep at it until she starts liking them. Not sure if that happened, but she did keep at it.
Last day we had our breakfast in a blueberry pancake place (other days we ate at home — we bought some stuff in a local supermarket) and in the evening we went to the place right on the water — Fish House Grill
. It was similar to the first place and Alena ordered a whole lobster again. So did my mom, as it turned out by mistake. And she was really unhappy about the fact that she had to fight with the lobster again. It was actually quite funny to see her get mad at the lobster.
And on our way home we did what we always do when we drive from that direction. We stopped in Foxwoods to eat at California Pizza Kitchen
. The Greek pizza was as delicious as before.
Acadia National Park
Sunday, our first full day there, was dedicated to exploring the main part of Acadia National Park. This is also the day when we collected most of our stamps around the park. We started from the visitor center and drove all around the Park Loop Road.
We visited the top of Cadillac Mountain. It is the highest point on the east coast, yet it is only 1,600 feet. It really has got nothing on Colorado or the southwest. But the views from the top are nevertheless spectacular. You can see all of the island, the town, the ocean and the multitude of other little islands.
We saw Sand Beach, Thunder Hole (water hits the walls of a cave and it does really sound like a loud thunder), we did a 3 mile hike around Jordan Pond and took a whole bunch of pictures, besides other things that I don’t recall. Sadly the first part of the day was cloudy, so some shots look gloomier than it really felt.
Since we’re more used to the northern nature there wasn’t really a
wow factor involved here (unlike our southwest trips), but the peacefulness and the tranquility of the park was great. Amazing beauty of simple green forest, brown and gray rocks and blue ocean is just what one needs to relax and get away from the usual daily routine.
On the 2nd day we went to see the famous Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. From one side it is utterly unimpressive and is tiny compared to Fire Island Lighthouse. On the other hand the location where it is built is magnificent. And all in combination it produces a striking view.
After that we decided to drive to Schoodic Peninsula — a 60 mile drive. The views and forest there is different and there are visible paths where lava used to flow some long time ago. The sad part was that there should’ve been a stamp there as well, but nobody on the ranger station was able to find it. I guess somebody decided to collect the stamp itself, not its print.
And on our last day we took it rather easy. We did a hike along one of the multiple carriage roads in the park, while taking pictures of 2 stones bridges.
Overall we ended up with 10 new stamps. 8 of them are from Acadia National Park. Should’ve been 9 if it weren’t for missing Schoodic stamp. One is from our stop at some Massachusetts historic site on our way back and one is USPS stamp from Portland.
On our last full day in Acadia we started the day with a walk through the multiple shops in the city. Mama and Alena wanted to buy some souvenirs and do a little shopping.
Afterward we did some light park exploration that I mentioned above and then we remembered about a winery that we saw on our way to Bar Harbor. It is actually located on the same island and was only 7 miles away. What we did was go there and for me and Alena it was our first wine tasting.
We ended up buying 3 bottles of wine — 2 dry white wines were very good and 1 sweet red wine that is made from apples and black currant, but it tastes more like a juice. And the parents bought 5 bottles, one of which we destroyed in the evening with some cheese that we bought for this purpose.
The drive back took 12 hours overall. We left at 11am, made a couple of stops along the way and were back home at 11pm. Total round trip came out to about 1,200 miles.
I love visiting National Parks of this country. Nature, some exploration and our good company is my favorite kind of vacation, good company being on number 1 spot. I had a great time and I think so did everyone else.