Travel Spotlight – Mike Cohen

PORTLAND, MAINE- Three years after our first family vacation to Maine, we returned recently and once again chose Portland (www.portlandmaine.com) as our base. We really enjoyed the accommodations at the Embassy Suites last time, so that certainly helped with our decision when they had availability and the spacious two bedroom suite we had our eyes on. This was a significant upgrade for my family. The large living room in the middle was perfect for me to work late into the evening or early in the morning without disturbing anyone.

Portland is Maine’s business, financial and retail capital and the largest city in the state. Seascapes and cityscapes blend harmoniously in Portland, perched on a peninsula, jutting out into island-studded Casco Bay. With a metro population of 230,000, the Greater Portland area is home to almost one quarter of Maine’s total population.

The Embassy Suites Portland, Maine hotel (www.portland.embassysuites.com) is centrally located and right next to the Portland Jetport. It is just a short drive from the Old Port, the large Maine Mall, beaches and scenic walking, hiking, and biking destinations.

All accommodations feature two flat screen televisions, a refrigerator, microwave oven and coffee maker, complimentary wireless high-speed internet access, two telephones and a comfortable work area with desk. There are 119 suites in the hotel. Only five are of the two bedroom variety so book those early.
You can start your day here with a complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast, including omelettes and pancakes. Grab a bagel and coffee on your way to a business event or to Portland’s attractions. In the evening, the atrium lobby is the site for the complimentary Manager’s Reception. Here you can sip a cocktail or refreshing beverage and enjoy a variety of snacks. The hotel also has a fitness center, indoor pool and business centre. It is located at 1050 Westbrook Street. For more information call 207-775-2200 or 1-800-Embassy.

Check out David’s Restaurant (www.davidsrestaurant.com), located at 22 Monument Square in the Arts District. This place has a pretty extensive menu, from an array of soups, salads and appetizers to meat, seafood and pasta dishes. There are also daily specials. One member of our party chose the open faced lobster “ravioli” which included Maine lobster, day boat scallops, Gulf shrimp, herbed ricotta and sherried lobster cream. Given the fact that the other two individuals at the table were having a very difficult time making any selections, we were offered a tasting menu. This was indeed a treat. It started off with some greens (arugula, spiced pecans, blue cheese, shaved red onion and black currant vinaigrette). I actually substituted that portion for a delicious blend of David’s clam chowder, containing thyme, brown sugar and bacon. A sampling of lobster was next, butter poached, with chanterelle risotto cake, citrus truffle and micro salad. This was followed by tuna (pepper crusted sushi rare, sesame peanut soba noodles, Szechuan citrus sauce and asparagus), sorbet (honeydew with cucumber vodaka), ravioli (forest mushrooms, leeks, shallots, oven dried tomatoes, goat cheese, arugula and Madeira truffle sauce), duck (crispy skin, garlic, ginger and soy with sesame spinach and mushroom risotto) and finally some ice cream (sea salt and caramel, chocolate sauce and crumbled chocolate cookies). If you are looking for an interesting dining experience, then make a reservation at David’s at 207- 773-4340.

Old Orchard Beach is only a 25 minute drive and I would strongly recommend you make the trip to specifically experience Palace Playland (www.palaceplayland.com), New England’s only beachfront amusement park. It features a giant arcade, beautiful carousel, a kiddieland, a new ferris wheel and the galaxi coaster. It is open Memorial Day to Labor Day and features fireworks every Thursday night by the Pier. What’s great about this place is that you do not have to pay for admission, just for the rides. This can be done by buying tickets or a wrist band for unlimited access.

This year the park has added two brand new rides, Riptide and an upgraded kiddie Frog Hopper. Another new addition for the kids is called Dizzy Dragon. It was previously operated at an indoor entertainment center. The new Ferris wheel offers a spectacular light show. In the summer you are sure to hear a lot of French being spoken as Quebecers travel to this particular part of Maine in droves. They even have some employees who speak French.

As far as beaches go, check out Scarborough and Crescent. Both are popular family swimming beaches with fine sand, picnic tables, snack bars and washrooms.

Mike Cohen’s email address is info@mikecohen.ca. Follow his travels at sandboxworld.com/travel.

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