Portland, ME Felix Wong

“How cool you’re in Portland, Maine,” wrote my friend Lisa. “I’ve actually been there once before, and it is really a cute town. I remember I accidentally parked illegally, and instead of giving me a ticket, they left me a note that said something like ‘we know you are from out of town so we won’t give you a ticket. Thank you for visiting Maine.’ It was quite nice of them.”

I had to agree with Lisa—Portland is a very cute town with a beautiful downtown, harbor, shops, and restaurants. The funny thing is I had a near-similar experience to Lisa for parking. You see, I had overstayed my meter time by two or three minutes, and right when I got to my car, a meter patrol guy was in the middle of tearing a ticket from his ticket pad and slapping it on the windshield. The split second after he did this I said, “sorry,” and he turned to me somewhat embarrassed and ended up apologizing in return.

“Don’t worry,” he said, “the first one is a freebie anyhow. And I’m sure this is your first one.” (It was, of course.)

Indeed, the ticket itself read,

The City of Portland values your visit. The City will automatically void the first Code 1, D or T violation notice every six months (Jan-June) (July-Dec). This requires no action on your part.

Hooray! Squeaked out of a $15 ticket. How nice.

Anyhow, in the short time I was in Portland—just walking around downtown and also making a quick wifi pit stop in a coffee shop to read email from the last couple days—I was left with a very good impression of the town. Very clean, colorful, seemingly progressive. Beautiful too, including the weather on this day in April. Seems like I was very lucky about the weather during the entire New England trip—clear skies, good temps, no wind. Not sure if this is typical for mid-April (sort of doubt it), but in any case, no complaints.

It’s hard to really assess the qualities of a town in just a visit of a few hours, but from what I saw, I could see how Money Magazine would rank it in its Top 100 of “Best Places to Live in America” (the same list where Fort Collins was ranked #1).

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Portland's downtown parking wasn't too bad at this time of year (April).Portland Lobster Co. by the harbor.The Portland Harbor.Downtown Portland was very walkable with cobblestone streets.Lots of galleries, shops and restaurants in Portland.I thought downtown Portland was really nice!

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