Portland in Blues

on Monday, February 19, 2007

Please click on photos to get a bigger picture (all photos by lgsquirrel)

Please bear with me as I could not resist having one more post in my current "blue" period. This is actually more of a photography posting as I wanted to share with you the top three pictures. However, I will natter on a bit about the background to these pictures.

I am quite proud of the pictures which I took from my hotel window as dawn breaks across Portland, Maine in late autumn 2005. The deep blues and glowing reds are the classic colors seen in the Singapore Girl photographs that I mentioned in my last post; so you can see that I have been influenced greatly by that series. At a personal level, I find such colors soothing and inviting. I try to get shots like these whenever I can. I hope you like them.

My visit to Portland, Maine was way too short - just three nights and two days. As I was there to attend some meetings, there was in fact little time to do any sightseeing. I did manage some and I plan to share more about this and about the wonderful people of Portland at another time. For now, I just want to share with you what I did at the start of each of those two wonderful mornings in Portland.

After taking those photographs, I was out into the freezing cold by 7.30 am. I could have eaten at the hotel but hotel food is hotel food the world over and it was not friendly to the pocket either. No, I purposely was out of the hotel earlier than I had too so that I could cram in as much of local life as possible. Most of my colleagues ventured no further than the convenience store further down the block for a hot coffee and sandwiches for breakfast. I, though wanted to be a bit more adventurous.

I wandered much further, allowing my nose and my stomach to lead me. At first, I was disappointed as nothing much seemed opened. Eventually, I headed down to the harbour area. I had to cross a very busy road but near the commercial harbour area there was a diner and it seemed very popular with the locals. It was functional and unpretentious but little touches like its community bulletin board suggested friendliness. It was "Becky's".

I never found out who Becky was and I did not ask but I found myself fitting right in even though I must have stood up like a sore thumb. The waitresses, the cook and the patrons were all engaged in cheerful banter with exchanges of greetings and well-wishes flying about at a regular rate. After ordering from the small menu, I found myself at the counter rubbing elbows with the locals; some of the burly, barrel chested men, I imagined must be weather-hardened fishermen. Others, from their conversations were clearly local artists and craftsmen, a couple of retirees and even some students. I was even sharing and exchanging sections of the local newspaper with others on the counter.

I was very pleased with the unhealthy size of my breakfast when it arrived. As I dug in, I was a silent listener to all variety of gossips and exchanges of local news which appeared to carry on with gusto despite the obvious presence of a stranger. This was great. I felt right at home. I even joined the locals in wishing one of the waitresses well as she planned to quit to carry on her studies. This was done surreptitiously as apparently the boss (Becky, I presume) had not yet been informed. Before I left, several locals told me the best place to get mussels, clam chowder and of course lobster for lunch. I took their advice and it turned out to be an equally friendly local haunt. I left Becky's full and satisfied in stomach and in spirit.

I was back the next day again but this time I considered myself one of the regulars!

My cheerful waitress

Nothing like a cold-busting Maine Breakfast

The friendly diner, counter and patrons


my backyard said...

Looking at your breakfast makes me feel hungry. Now I've got to go get a snack.

Tai said...

Don't you just love places like that? People smiling and greeting each other happily, enjoying the morning and each others company.
Way to go, Squirrel!
Way to settle in and eat a breakfast built for 3!

Becky Wolfe said...

Sounds like you had a great 'local experience' at a yummy diner named after ME. (yes my name is Becky) What a breakfast - I love big breakfasts!

Beautiful photos. Amazing coloring in the horizons!

CSL said...

The skyline photos are just beautiful. And that diner expereince is fun - in my family we call that having a big plate of tan.

CSL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
squirrel said...

Thanks for taking us with you for breakfast at Beckys! Great pics!

Cheryl said...

I'm stopping by to say hi. I spent a lot of time reading through your blog on Saturday. I'm amazed by how much you write. It held my interest for quite a while.

A client of mine visits the libraries in all the towns she visits. She feels it's a good way to get that local feeling. I loved that you found this diner, and that you went back a second time.

Dave said...

The diner reminds me of a diner over here. Sometimes the best food is at these quaint little places.

Your pictures are beautiful LGS!

Cheers! :-)

Ellie said...

There is a lady who does many different shows on the Food Network, her name is Rachel Ray, you may have heard of her? She does a show called $40.00 a Day. She takes her show to a city, and then will attempt to eat three meals and a snack or two on $40.00 a Day. Her advice is to always ask the "locals". She says they know where the best food is for the least amount of money. As you were describing your experience, I had to think it sounded so near what Rachel Ray talks about.

The photos are lovely...you have a really good "eye". :)



Lone Grey Squirrel said...

my backyard,
I'm not surprised. Please read my blog only after meals. :)

places like that is like breathing pure oxygen - really peps you up with the goodness of mankind. As for the food, what can I say? I am a growing squirrel (unfortunately growing around the waist area).

Well, if you did own a diner, I'm sure it would also be a bright and cheerful place. If you look at the photo of the waitress, "Becky's" written on her t-shirt and on the menu on the left.

Glad you like the photos. In my family, we call that having a big plate of fat. But I still love it.

Becky's would make you feel very welcome too.

Thank you for the kind words. I hope you will be back a second time! :)

While I understand your client's choice of visiting the libraries, I point out two disadvantages; 1) hard to hear local gossip near the "Silence Please" sign and 2) no heart-attack breakfast!!! Cheers.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Would that be the diner where my leg was pulled? lol.

No seriously, it must be nice to have a place like that. Glad you liked the photos.

Second time you posted just ahead of me. I don't know Rachel Ray but I fully agree with her. When I am travelling, I always see where the locals eat and not where the tourists eat if I have the time. About a third of the time, you will stumble on something extra special like local dancers or musicians or jazz singers (my previous post on "Ida McBeth, wishes me well".) Glad you liked the photos.

Josie said...

LGS, these are gorgeous photographs. I have always wanted to go to Portland, Maine. I drove through Maine once, but we didn't stop. Sigh.

I think I'm hungry now :-)


Jay said...

Great shots.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I was also only barely there but I did enjoy the people.

thanks for coming by and leaving comments. Hope you will be back.

Janice Thomson said...

What beautiful photos LGS!
How wise to be in the company of friendly locals to really enjoy the experience of a city.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

glad you likrd the photos. There are friendly locals and not so friendly locals. Portland definately had the friendly variety.

Top cat said...

These are great pictures, I love the colors and skyline.
You've discovered the secret many travellers have found, for the best food eat where the locals do.
Becky's looks like a good place to eat.
I have to laugh at what the locals were thinking of a man taking pictures of his breakfast.lol

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

they probably thought "Dumb Japanese Tourist with his electronic toy." I like it when I misbehave and others get the blame.

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