I’ve been living in Portland now for the better part of two years. As my Friday winds down and I get ready for my weekend, I’m excited to spend it with my dad. I want to show him the sights and introduce him to some of the people and places that have become very special to me. Showing him my life in Portland is something I’ve looked forward to since I knew I would be taking this trip.
4:00 p.m. on Market Street
I leave work at 75 Market Street and head downstairs to Portland Hunt and Alpine Club, where my father has been not so patiently waiting for me. After a quick drink and discussion about what the weekend plans will be, we depart. Before heading to the car, we stop into Güven Gallery where Zafer Güven and his dog, Rondo, meet us and show us amazing one-of-a-kind Anatolian art. It’s great shops like Güven Gallery that make the Old Port so special.
4:45 p.m. @ As 1 Gallery
We decide to check out this new gallery on Exchange Street and we are glad we did. Located on the second floor, the gallery has paintings, jewelry, and other works of art from 17 local artists. Andrea Helm opened the gallery over the summer because she wanted to showcase work by artists she knew, including her stepmom, Kharris Brill, who creates stained glass, landscape batiks, and 3D shadow objects, and her cousin, Amanda Brill, who is a painter. In the gallery there are also journals by Anastasia Weigle that by using textures and found objects inspire writers.
5:00p.m. @ The Danforth Inn
We are greeted ever so warmly by innkeeper Bret Keleher and owner Raymond Brunyanszki. They show us around the property and to our room. Each room in the hotel is named after neighborhoods around Portland. Our room is “Back Bay,” a place where I take my morning runs. The room is beautiful and warm, there is modern art on the walls and a fireplace; it is a great home base for the weekend to come. The inn is close to the bustling downtown area, but removed enough so you can get away from it all and relax.
6:00 p.m. @ Grace
We are early for dinner so we stop at Grace Restaurant for a drink. The restaurant is housed in a renovated historic church—the stained glass windows and wood pillars are all still intact. It all makes for a very trendy atmosphere, and the bartenders are very helpful with crafting a cocktail to your personal liking.
7:30 p.m. @ Fore Street
Fore Street has been on my radar since I moved to Portland and I can’t think of a better time to cross it off my list than with my dad. It doesn’t disappoint. Our server, Emily, gives us a rundown on the menu and we follow most of her suggestions. The food is amazing. My father tries a childhood favorite, finnan haddie. After sampling some chef favorites, I settle on the lamb chop, which might be the best I have ever had.
9:00p.m. @ Sur Lie
For dessert we head to this new hot spot in the Old Port, one of my favorites. Owners Krista Cole and Antonio Alviar greet us warmly as always. Carrot cake and homemade donuts are suggested to us, and who am I to argue? It is easy to see why Sur Lie is off to such a great start as the only thing that upstages the service is the food.
10:00 p.m. @ The Danforth Inn
We play a quick game of pool in the billiard room, where there is a fireplace and we can bring down drinks and late-night snacks. Later we head up to the widow’s walk and have a nightcap while looking at the breathtaking view of the city. During the day, you can see the harbor, but tonight is dark, allowing us to admire the stars above.
7:00 a.m. in the West End
For my morning run I head out from the Danforth, I run along the brick sidewalks and pass some of the old Victorians of the West End. I take the paths through the Western Promenade, which has views of a tree-filled landscape that stretches past the city.
9:00 a.m. @ The Danforth Inn
I arrive back to the inn and find my dad chatting up the other guests over breakfast. I join him for some pastries and we plan the day together.
11:00 a.m. on Munjoy Hill
One part of the city I know well is Munjoy Hill—it’s where I stayed when I first moved to Portland. After coffee at Hilltop Coffee, we decide to take a walk on this chilly winter morning and explore the area like tourists. We stop into Laura Fuller Glass, where Laura shows us her beautiful handmade angels. Next is Circa Home and Vintage, where my dad buys soaps and home goods for my sister. We walk over to the Eastern Promenade and enjoy the view while we talk about how we got here and how Maine has become such an amazing part of our lives.
Dad has had Duckfat on the agenda for this trip for quite some time and it doesn’t disappoint. As always there is a wait, and as always it is worth it. After a sampling of Rob Evans’s amazing food, we’re off to our next stop.
2:30p.m. @ Portland Stage Company
I’ve been meaning to attend a play since I have been here and I figure this is the perfect time. It is December, and we enjoy a rendition of A Christmas Carol, which, along with the lights strung throughout the city, boosts our holiday spirit.
5:00p.m. @ The Danforth Inn
After a busy day, we retreat to the Danforth to relax and rest up for the evening.
6:30p.m. @ 555
We fulfill another request from my dad by stopping into 555. The bartender, Josh, greets us and we talk about our trip and all the sights we have already seen. My dad mentions that my mom would love it here, and I am overcome with gratitude for the opportunity to have my father accompany me this weekend.
7:00p.m. @ Boone’s Fish House and Oyster Room
We are seated at the perfect table next to a warm fireplace at Boone’s, and chef Harding Lee Smith greets us. The staff couldn’t be more welcoming or the food any more delicious. We sample everything from oysters to steak, and of course top it off with dessert.
9:30p.m. @ Craft Beer Cellar
Feeling happy, but very full, we decide to get back to the Danforth and call it a night. But first my dad stops into the Craft Beer Cellar to peruse the huge selection of beer. The store is broken into regions, the largest region located in the front of the store is New England brews. I notice many Maine beers, including Banded Horn, Rising Tide, Foundation, and Baxter Brewing. There is also a large variety of international beers from Belgium and Canada that will please any beer-loving customer.
9:00 a.m. @ Tandem Coffee and Bakery
Tandem was on my to-do list for the weekend. The coffee shop and bakery on Congress Street was formerly a gas station and now offers mouthwatering pastries. It has become part of my Sunday morning routine, so it is nice to share with Dad, who loves it as well.
10:30 a.m. in the OldPort
No trip to Portland would be complete without some dedicated time in the Old Port. After we say our goodbyes at the Danforth, we park by the water and start our day. A smoothie from the Maine Squeeze Juice Cafe is breakfast after the weekend indulgence. Inside the shop is busy and we watch as the staff uses whole fruits and vegetables to create a delicious, healthy beverage. We stop into JustKim, where there are a number of unique gifts from reversible bags, hats, and artwork, and I find some great gifts for my sister. My dad picks out a postcard from Old Port Card Works to remember the trip. Before we finish with shopping, we stop into Mexicali Blues and Asia West.
2:00 p.m. on the road
As we wrap up the trip and Dad heads back to Boston, I’m so grateful to have had an opportunity to explore the area I live and work in every day with my dad and show him the city that has become so important to me. These moments are gifts, and this weekend has changed the way I look at this great city.