A beautiful room in the very stately Grand Hotel, a fabulous breakfast, a stroll around town and down to the harbour before leaving. This is everything that I thought living in a small seaside village would be, though don't be fooled it may be brilliantly sunny but its shockingly cold and that wind is strong! In no particular rush to press on we headed down the 1mile shore path which gently winds it way along the coast (allowing you a sneaky peak of the
wonderfully classic hotels and residential homes which now line the shore). Thankfully this stroll allowed us to escape the wind as we wandered around the headland and took in the beauty of the numerous island which lay before us along a rocky shore. Apparently tourism boomed in the late 1800s here, with a total of 30 hotels in the area the influx of eager holiday makers reached its peak when people had to book two years
in advance to stay on the beautiful
island. This prompted the wealthy and elite to build their own grand summer houses whilst the artisans moved in on a more permanent basis. Unfortunately the town isn't as historically intact as it could be, suffering badly from a drought in 1947 it was inevitable that a fire would break out of control, raging for 10 days and ravaging the town and the island until half of the eastern side of the island had been destroyed, including a whooping 10,000 acres of Acadia National Park. Evidently the town rebuilt itself, thankfully in the same style of that which had been lost. This is everything which I thought Maine would be.
Still it was time to move on and see what else Maine had to offer us. Cruising south on the 1 is fantastic. This is almost living the dream. A reasonable good condition road winding through endless seaside towns and villages with names such as Belfast; Camden; Rockport; Newcastle and Bath. To top it off the road is called The Atlantic Highway. Just after Belfast we stopped for a stretch of the old
legs at Lincolnville, one of the many villages which blend into its neighbours (Ducktrap in this case - isn't that just the greatest name!) the wind hasn't abated and it seems that kite flying is a national pastime on the east coast. If nothing else it looks like the cheapest and most entertaining means for small children - give them a plot of land of any size and typical off shore gusts and you have some happy kids (just make sure you don't get them one too big!).
We pulled in briefly to Bath because, well its called Bath and we were hoping for a chippie. I don't think they have them here which is a crying shame - all this wonderful coast and no chippies! (Not that I know they have a chippie
in Bath, England we're just working on the basic assumption that as good as every town and city in England has at least one!) Turns out fish and chips here are strictly restaurant fare here, as it is in Camden down the road even the 'chowdah' here is a restaurant job.
Still its a good looking town, based around the sea, scattered churches and winding streets. From here it's just a skip and a jump to Brunswick, or it should've been. From here we went from plain sailing to almost constant traffic jams as we slowly made our through and past Brunswick. We had hoped to roll into Portland tonight but we hadn't eaten since breakfast and the sun was getting low. We rolled into Freeport which could well be the original outlet village - it boasts.... 170 designer outlet stores, most of which housed in your typical Maine houses so it is thankfully still a nice street to drive down. We succumbed to a MacDonald's and was shocked to see the outside looking like someone's house and the interior looking like quite a nice cafe or restaurant - sitting across from us in the bay window was a woman of about 40 with her elderly parents, all dressed quite smartly and looking perfectly at home tucking into their salads. Too tired to travel the 16 miles to Portland (before figuring out how to access the motels without using the toll road) we rolled up at a motel just out of town before heading back out in search of food and the sunset at Casco Bay.
Heading south we reached the Winslow Memorial Park to discover that 'officially' it was closed and it was a fee park! What is the deal with paying for parks America? Why aren't they free? You don't have to provide 'reservation only' picnic areas, you don't have to provide barbecue pits but that said, other countries do (Singapore, Australia) and they are free, completely free. I am beginning to wonder if Americans believe they should pay for everything. The park wasn't manned and the gate was open so we went in anyway (we would've left if it had been any different). Nice but not great, I think we were influenced by the fact that we were supposed to pay for this, so many places in England (Lake District and the Pennines to name but two) which are completely free and open for exploration and so much better. Conscious of the time we headed out before the sunset; small town America closes down 8pm and it was already 7.30, determined not to resort to Subway again we headed into town with fingers crossed. Unfortunately Freeport may be full of outlet stores but alas no 'take out' places other than MacDonald's. We stumbled across one pizza place which informed us that the ovens where full and they switch them off in 5 minutes - it wasn't even 8pm. The only establishments open on the street where fancy restaurants where short wearing flip flop footed guys where escorting their cold looking ladies. Clutching at straws we headed to the local supermarket hoping for good bread, pate and salad. Turns out they just have expensive sub standard pate and we didn't get as far as the salad. Small town America can be incredibly frustrating. With no other option we succumbed once again to MacDonald's (I'm so ashamed) and bought beer to make up for it.
Before I forget, being swamped with adverts I decided to look up one quite commonly marketed on TV: Yaz - a birth control pill which is supposed to be amazing, completely ending bloating and moodiness. Sounds great so I looked it up, the net is full of desperate women trying to find it cheaper on the net as they just can't afford it! Prices ranging from $59.15 per month to $193!!! Reading on one site a woman wrote in saying that she she has insurance and just has to pay $20 a month. The woman is insured! She is taking it more for medical reasons than for birth control and she still had to pay! In England it is completely free - regardless of your reasons. Somehow or other this site lead me to a lass asking about her pap test, not knowing what this was I looked it up - its basically a smear test. What was odd was her question: 'I am going for a PAP test later this month but I had sex a year ago, will this show on my test and should I have not done it' badly worded I know but that's websites for you. But forget all that... what the hell... someone had sex a year ago and they're worried that it will show on their smear test - whilst I really am not a gynecologist what the hell does it matter - I mean really?! It was a year ago, I can't believe it was even a question! Does it affect their insurance? Is it a question on your insurance renewal contract?! The truly unbelievable thing is the response; 'Yes it will and from how you worded your question you should not have done it.' Interestingly enough the question was later deleted as no doubt the woman involved drowned in her sinful pit of whoredom. In so many ways America is incredibly backward and small-minded.
Bar Harbor, Maine - truly a beautiful honeymoon spot. Forget Niagara Falls - make it a day visit (it really is all you need) Maine has got you covered; it's not called the Vacation State for no reason.