Hello birthday week, I'm so glad you're here... because that means my surprise vacation is too!
A couple months before my birthday, I asked Michael (my husband) when I should use my personal days.. he said "take a couple days around your birthday", so i did! He later told me we were going somewhere but wouldn't share where. I was asking reasonable questions like:
What do I pack?
What is the weather like?
Are we flying or driving? (very important to know when packing!)
I'm not sure what I did to deserve such a nice gift from my husband. This vacation was so thoughtful. Michael is such a caring, supportive, selfless man that I am forever grateful for. He is a gift in itself.
It was time to head out. We packed the car, dropped my cousin Melissa off at the airport to head home to California (yes, another surprise from my husband) and got on the road, Michael, Emmalyn and I.
I found out my best friend was supposed to join us, but she had a medical emergency and was unable to come.
Google maps was activated and hidden from my view.
Driving north, I had a few places in mind (Newport, Portland, Finger Lakes)
It wasn't long before I knew it was indeed Portland as we drove through CT, MA and NH.
We arrived at 10pm at our AirBnB. It was lovely. The host, Tom, greeted us at the door with wine, Allagash beer and some cheese to enjoy during our stay. We unpacked and rested up for the fun days ahead.
Sleeping in may have been the best part of this trip. We didn't have to worry about an itinerary. It was relaxing and I enjoyed my coffee in the comfortable living room each morning.
We started my BIRTHDAY off at Dutch's, a quick service (but good) breakfast spot that we passed on our way to the center of town. We ordered the Portland Breakfast and The Burrito.
Making our way to Old Port, we did a little sightseeing by the water. Emmalyn wound up falling asleep, so we made a pit stop at Ship Yard Brewery. We each got a beer flight and let Emmy get her rest.
Afterwards, we did some window shopping. Of course, the children's boutique LITTLE caught my eye and I purchased a few things for Emmalyn. She was awake at this point and fully enjoyed this store just as much as me. (highly recommended if you know or have babies!)
We stopped at a cute little outdoor cafe (Milk Street Cafe) where we had a cocktail and ordered a cheese platter.
It was time to head back to the rental to get ready for dinner. It started raining, so I went with a casual outfit. We drove to dinner and arrived at the Old Port Sea Grill. Michael spoke to the host and we made our way to the bar area to wait for our table.
Out of nowhere my Mom + her boyfriend John pop out and yell "SURPRISE"
Needless to say, I was shocked. They got me good.
We sat for dinner and the one thing I was disappointed about is the place didn't have highchairs!
Thankfully, Emmalyn is big enough to sit at the table; but she kept getting up. The restaurant wasn't so busy, so we let her do her thing and she wasn't a bother (actually made a few friends).
We ordered a seafood platter and mussels for an appetizer. Oysters, clams, crabs claws and shrimp...
I ordered a lobster pasta for my main course...my mom copied me. :)
After dinner, we went to a pub around the corner. From there, we called it a night.
The next morning Michael, Emmalyn and I made our way to South Portland to a Toast Bar that was amazing! I had the SMOKEY ROSE, smoked salmon with cream cheese on a salted bagel.
Michael got the HAM ON IT toast: ham with cream cheese on a bagel and Emmalyn enjoyed banana bread.
After, we went to Bug Light Park.
Emmalyn fell asleep in the car, so we made our way back to Old Port, and let her sleep while we parked in a lot on the bay. We found my Mom and John and took some family pictures and enjoyed the view near East End Beach.
It was time for lunch and we put our name on the list at Eventide - what seemed to be the most popular oyster bar in Portland. The wait was an hour. To kill time, we went around the corner to the brewery. It was so hot that I just wanted something refreshing, so I ordered a Portland mule.
It was finally time to enjoy some oysters and lobster rolls. It was delicious!! The drinks were good, too!
My mom and I walked off lunch by shopping a little more. Emmalyn hung out with Daddy and John at the Thirsty Pig, which had nice outdoor seating.
After shopping, we met up to get ready for dinner.
Michael had reservations at Sur Lie, a tapas restaurant.
Every dish was better than the next. At first, my Mom and John didn't quite get the concept of tapas - "What's with the small portions?" - but by dessert we were all fulfilled!
Leaving the restaurant we heard live music...we walked blocks, getting closer and closer and finally found the music at a rooftop pub. Being as we had Emma and a stroller, we sat at an outdoor bar nearby and listened in, had our last cocktail and called it a night.
I have to say, Portland was by far the most baby friendly city I have ever been to in the U.S!
Every restaurant / pub had a changing table. You won't find that in NJ!
Friday morning we woke up, relaxed again, then met up at Artemisia Cafe.
By the time we got there, it was time for lunch so I ordered a Bloody Mary + a BLT.
Over lunch we decided today we would tour Portland from the water. John found an excursion that had reservations available for a private captain boat tour and we booked it. Emma took a nice long afternoon nap to prepare for our upcoming excursion...
Making our way to the boat, we were unsure how Emmy would handle the ride - but she absolutely loved it. Nana said she had "sea legs". The boat tour took us around the bay to a few lighthouses and islands. We even spotted a bald eagle on the ride!
We ended up the trip with a farm to table restaurant: Hugo's.
I must say, Michael did a wonderful job selecting an array of good eats. Considering the popularity of the city, its necessary to make reservations weeks in advance to eat at the Portland "hot spots" which is exactly what he did.
We had to head home 2 days earlier due to a passing in the family.
Portland is definitely still up and coming...a true foodie town.
Get here before everyone really know about it!
This city will always hold a special place in my heart as I celebrated my 30th year.