Portland, Maine, United States

Saturday, June 17, 2017
Portland, Maine, United States
After Camden, our first stop was Portland, the largest city in Maine, and situated on Casco Bay, an inlet off the Atlantic Ocean, which has many islands, both inhabited and uninhabited. The city played a major role during the Second World War and over 200 Liberty ships were built there. The downtown area is mainly red brick buildings which were built in the mid-1800s after the fourth major fire in the city – fire seems to have defined a lot of places along this coast, eg Belfast where we were a few weeks ago.  The waterfront area used to be a no-go area, even for the police apparently, but has been revitalised over the past 20 years with restaurants, shops, galleries and boutiques. We had an excellent meal at Scales Restaurant which had been recommended by Colleen, the owner of our cottage in Camden.
We enjoyed the Portland Museum of Art because of its varied collection of art. The main exhibition was of 4 sculptors (Lachaise, Laurent, Nadelman, and Zorach) who came to the US from Europe in the early 20th century and revolutionised sculpture in the country – we are not really into sculpture but these were some of the best we have ever seen. The gallery also has a very good painting collection including some by the French Impressionists (Monet, Renoir, Pissarro) and many early American artists. One impressive feature was a mobile exhibition of migrating birds made out of paper mache hanging from the ceiling of the gallery spaces which had been made by one of the ladies who works in the gallery.
We also happened to be in Portland when there was a large LGBT Pride march through the streets. This was part of similar marches throughout the country. All states in the US recognised same-sex marriage after the Supreme Court in 2015 ruled that state bans on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional – shame Australia!!! No comments necessary
We also went on a harbour cruise through Casco Bay and the islands. One of the features of the bay are the number of lighthouses, 4 of which we were able to see. Most are still in use, even the most distant one, Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse, which was bought by a surgeon through public tender in 2010 for $190,000. There are also a number of old forts on the islands, a remnant of the war with the British. Two highlights on the trip were the osprey nest on an old pylon in the middle of the harbour and a pair of eagles on Great Diamond Island. Both had chicks in their nests and, as seen by the size of the nests, have been coming back to the same nest for a number of years.
From Portland we drove to Kennebunkport, but instead of taking the highway, went via the coastal route.  Although there were some nice spots, a lot of the beaches just south of Portland, are very crowded with lots of cheap motels and condos. However, everything changes as you get closer to Kennebunkport.