Sat. Oct. 17, 2015:
Boston, Massachusetts driving to Kennebunkport, Maine:
For some ungodly reason they were doing construction on a roof adjacent to our hotel, at 6am, on a Saturday. We closed the window and now it was quieter, but it was also hotter and there was no A/C. Needless to say I did not manage to sleep past 8am. Our hotel did not have complimentary breakfast and so we munched on the chewy SweetTarts and I made some tea. The tea was not good as I had to use the coffee maker. It was around this point, while watching a show about misbehaving cats, that I pulled myself together and got ready to go. We were walking to Mike’s Pastry to get a delicious breakfast. We covered the spread and ordered: lemon cannoli, a Neapolitan square and a Boston cream puff.
It is nearly impossible to have pastries for breakfast without coffee. We were near the Dunkin’ Donuts I had gone to the day before. As we walked there however, we took a detour and went into the Boston/Hay Market. Brent had never been inside and I suddenly decided that what I needed was an actual good cup of coffee, not a good cup of crappy coffee. Back in the hotel we had a feast. The cream puff won by far, the Neapolitan square was a close second (despite being hard to eat). It was a lot of sugar to ingest in one sitting.
The elevator was full, everyone was on their way to check out of the hotel. We felt a need to rush, but everyone else was so slow it did not matter. Walking to Harvard we were unsure of the route. Our paper maps directed us from Mike’s Pastry and the phone was giving us driving directions. We had to somehow get across, over or under, a bunch of highways. We stopped by the science museum but it seemed oriented to children with lots of interactive exhibits. We did get to see a guy demonstrating glass-blowing outside which was worth the small detour.
The walk to Harvard campus seemed to take forever. My legs were still tired from the previous day and we were once again carrying our bags. The map printout had said it would take an hour and 11 minutes to walk from Mike’s Pastry, therefore even shorter from our hotel. Somehow it took longer. In the distance I could see a fancy building, I convinced myself it was Harvard, so I did not feel I had to walk much farther. Plus nearby businesses all had Harvard in their names. I had been right, it was the beginning of campus. What we did not anticipate was having to try and find Harvard Yard once we got there. It was tempting to latch onto a tour group going into one of the buildings but the group was so big and the building so small it would have been uncomfortable. As we turned in a circle trying to figure out which way to go, Brent noticed the gate to Harvard Yard across the way. There were lots of tourists and it made me wonder if students ever actually passed through or avoided it as much as possible? I did not get to see any stereotypical dorks either. There were a lot of nice buildings to look at. Most importantly there were some chairs to sit in. Sitting there I realized just how tired I really was.
Having rested a bit, the plan was to walk down to the Museum of Fine Art and finish what we could in a few hours. However about 20 minutes in the hour long walk I realized my legs were too tired for this. It was an hour walk and then we would be walking for 1-2 hours more in the museum. I had to tap out and call it quits.
After a few failed attempts we managed to hail a cab (paid for by Brent’s work). We drove to the airport where we picked up a rental car. On the way we had passed the MIT campus, it really does not seem like I had missed much. It was confusing at the airport, we ended up driving to the rental car return instead of the drop-off area. During the bathroom break a shuttle bus had arrived and so there was a mad rush of people to the car rental counters. While Brent waited in line I took off in the direction of Dunkin’ Donuts. They had a Snickerdoodle cookie flavour shot. I was psyched, until I tried to pour some coffee. One drop came out and then nothing. I panicked for a second, until they brought out a fresh carafe.
It felt good to sit down while I waited, I wasn’t even bothered by the very squeaky escalator or the lady watching a TV show in French without headphones. The car had not been checked, they did not do a walk-around. It was only as we were exiting that there was a giant line-up. Some of the rental companies were doing the check at the exit, holding up the line. It was a terrible plan. Our GPS was just a jerry-rigged Samsung cellphone. We immediately had trouble with. The holder was not intuitive at all, it took some struggle to figure out how the phone goes in it. Then the suction cup would not stick, it would fall off the windshield making a terrible noise as it fell across the dashboard. Finally in a fit of aggravation I applied some spit to it. The suction stuck the rest of the trip.
As per my request, we stopped at Walmart so I could stock up on my usual supplies. The Oreo selection was unusually boring, with nothing new. They also did not have any of my beloved Biscoff cookies. Adding to the terribleness there was a guy making small talk with me about shopping when hungry. I grabbed some Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (a great haul: cinnamon bun, blueberry crisp and pumpkin spice) and Swiss Miss and walked away. I wanted out of there, the place was full of annoying kids and people who did not know how to use self-checkout lines.
We stopped for lunch at Woodman’s of Essex. You could see how popular the place is in the summer, they had a bunch of picnic benches set up by the river. Inside there was a plaque that said “happiness is finding an empty booth at Woodman’s.” We still had dinner plans in the evening, so we kept lunch light. We ordered the signature dish: clam strip plate and some clam chowder on the side for me. I was on a real clam chowder kick this trip. Woodman’s clam chowder had so many chunks of actual clam in it that I was in heaven, it completely made up for how water-y the chowder was. The fried clams and fries were delicious, I opted out of the onion rings. On the side we had drinks from crappy plastic cups. Even still, my margarita had a salted rim.
As we drove we got to see the nice fall colours. Celebration! We crossed a bridge over into Maine, state number 32 for us both!! Following tradition, we waved our arms in the air and cheered. I was starting to get sleepy, even the signs with the distance in miles and kilometres weren’t enough to keep me awake.
Kennebunkport was a quaint little town with lots of little shops along one main stretch of road. We were staying at the Kennebunkport Inn and when we entered the room I was a bit confused. There were two small single beds facing each other across the room. In the bathroom we found a door to another room with a bigger bed and another TV. There was no other door to get to that room, therefore it was part of our suite. There were too many beds. However soon it turned out to be an amazing configuration. Before settling in, we went on a walk “to town” and visited the liquor store. I found a Maine apricot wine, it seemed odd but because it was local id try it. Back in the room I found out why apricot wine doesn’t exist widely across the board. Award-winning or not, it was not that good. While Brent watched the baseball play-offs in the big bedroom, I got comfy in the smaller room, reading Light In August in peace and quiet, away from the baseball commotion. I ended up having to go back in there to iron my skirt. Our dinner reservations were at a super fancy place.
We walked to the White Barn Inn, it was supposedly 15 minutes away from our hotel. We did not anticipate the cold or the dark. I ended up having to wear my wind-breaker over my nice outfit, which was super awkward at coat-check later. On the walk it was really dark as we were going down small side streets. Google maps said we had arrived, but we saw nothing except houses. I half-joked about using the flashlight function on my phone to get us there. We kept walking until finally we saw a lit up place, and that had to be it.
We tried to enter via the wrong door, apparently we had to enter the hotel to enter the restaurant. The pianist pointed us in the right direction. That is how fancy this place was. Everyone was dressed to the nines, thankfully the place was dimly lit. The tables were decorated with sculptures made out of cutlery. Ours had a turkey.
The dinner was a four course prix-fixe menu. This level of fancy did not stop us from trading plates halfway through. Brent had accidentally gotten us a bottle of water instead of tap as the waiter had barely mentioned it, saying sparkling water, still or ice (which he mumbled). The dinner consisted of an appetizer, something with a weird name, a main and a dessert. By far the winners were the Thai-style lobster spring roll appetizer, quail done three ways appetizer and the Concord grape sorbet with a syringe of champagne (2nd dish). Before the main dessert we got a mini dessert: banana cream which was surprisingly delicious, thanks to the vanilla spices and coconut. The white chocolate crème brulee was pretty good. It was fun to squeeze champagne onto my macaron. I did not enjoy Brent’s blueberry soufflé and he felt similarly about the crème brulee so we traded back. Everything else (cheese bowl with tomatoes and ham and parmesan, the sirloin with scallions and the pheasant breast) was ok, but it was by no means outstanding like the lobster spring roll. We figured we were done after that, and that the tiered serving tray at other tables was the cheese option for dessert. We were wrong, when we asked for the bill they brought us that instead. The only good one was the walnut pie bite. Even though the desserts were bite-sized, it was a bit too much and they were not that good. Ok, now we were done. Nope, when they brought the bill they also brought little orange chocolate-chip muffin bites.
Walking back from Kennebunk to Kennebunkport it was so cold outside and I was so full. All I could think of was plotzing in bed and sleeping for a million hours. It was amazing how many stars we could see in the night sky. It really is unfortunate that it was too cold to really stargaze though.