Service of Tourism

March 22nd, 2012

Categories: Accommodation, Courtesy, Restaurant, Tourism, Travel

Portland Museum of Art

Portland Museum of Art

We traveled to Portland, Maine on business and stayed an extra day to enjoy this charming city. We knew immediately that smart, service-minded people directed principal tourist attractions, like the Portland Museum of Art. The museum is open on Mondays during tourist season-Memorial Day through October: So smart.

The guard welcomed us when we visited on a Tuesday, suggesting we take off our winter coats “so that the outer layer will keep you warm when you go outside again,” he said as he ushered us to the coatroom. I’ve been in museums in small cities around the world and have never been so warmly welcomed.

The cashier at a landmark Maine retailer asked me if I liked tart, citrus-y lemon drops and I said, “Oh, yes!” He recommended that I not buy the attractive tin of candy I’d chosen, warning that they were tasteless. “I thought they were so awful that I returned mine,” he admitted. Now that’s service! [I don’t want to get him in trouble so I’m not identifying the wonderful store.]

Fore Street Restaurant

Fore Street Restaurant

Food in Portland was superlative. With auctioneers Annette and Rob Elowitch, owners of Baridoff Galleries Fine Art Auctions, we enjoyed a memorable dinner at Fore Street Restaurant in the old part of the city. Portland natives, the Elowitch’s, whom we came to see, didn’t know us, and yet they insisted we share a meal in their city. They selected Fore Street Restaurant for its ambiance and cooking. The bread, beet salad, oysters and fish were toothsome. Their enthusiasm for their city made them platinum spokespeople.

dimillosAt DiMillo’s we took advantage of an off-season special-two steamed lobsters, perfectly cooked, for $24. Breakfast at Bintliff’s American Café, which PR colleague David Reich recommended, included a blueberry pancake, lightly dusted with confectioner’s sugar, of a consistency-perhaps with a Scandinavian influence–unlike any I’ve ever tasted. I was so full of lobster from the night before, and yet I ate the entire pancake it was that light and delicious.

Portland is well worth a detour and a stay. Please share the names of similar destinations that happily surprised you.


Bintliff's American Cafe

Bintliff's American Cafe

10 Responses to “Service of Tourism”

  1. David Reich Said:

    We travel up from NY to Maine several times a year, since our daughter and our grandsons live in Brunswick, which is 25 miles northeast of Portland. We always try to make a breakfast stop at Bintliff’s. Great food and service and very reasonable prices.

    There are tons of interesting shops and galleries in the old port section of Portland, and plenty of places to get good lobster and “chowdah.”

    Going a little farther up the coast is worthwhile, if you have time. Brunswick is a nice college town (home to Bowdoin College) and Bath, 7 miles up Route 1 is interesting with its historic buildings and nice shops. And everywhere you go, the people in the shops and restaurants are so welcoming and nice.

    Glad you had fun up there, Jeanne. We love it.

  2. Jeremiah Said:

    I’ve only been to Portland once, but I’ll second your enthusiasm. Great place.

    Another tourist destination, although very different, that I’ve always enjoyed visiting is Williamsburg, VA. I’ve been there three times, and have always found a friendly welcome and been charmed by the experience of colonial make-believe. Recently, however, it was disillusioning to find that the supposed hand blown colonial wine glasses we bought had actually been made in China.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Maine seemed like a great place for a family–it had a happy yet at the same time serious-about-what-people-are-doing feeling.

    We were in a coffee place–a national name–a place I normally avoid in NYC because among a long list of reasons, I don’t like the attitude of the servers, who correct you when you order. This didn’t happen in Portland.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I adore Williamsburg! ALWAYS have. Remembered it from a visit when I was 9 and went back as an adult and was equally charmed.

    As for Williamsburg selling you stuff made in China, shame on them.

  5. ASK Said:

    Re Williamsburg products made in China: There’s been a 40-year gap between my first visit to the Bahamas and my second…in that time, Panama Jack’s straw hats went from being a locally made product to yet another made in China. I was amused – and sad – to see some stores trying to block the words “made in China” on the cloth labels with marker pens.

    My dearest friend, who is Irish, was recently horrified to find out that some of her newer Waterford crystal was NOT made in Ireland…

  6. jeanne byington Said:

    Le Clerc in France is a kind of Target or WalMart in that it sells food + clothes + housewares etc at moderate price. Years ago the decorative kitchen towels + other little gift items were made in France. Since, I’m told, this is no longer true. You’d think we might learn from one another. Instead countries act more like teenagers who must learn from their own mistakes.

  7. Nancy Farrell Said:

    I love Pittsburgh, PA. I once spent a whole week there for my job and it’s a beautiful place and the people are friendly. Portland, Oregon was also a nice surprise. Even in the November rain, I wanted to stay there a while longer than planned.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I haven’t been to Pittsburgh in eons but the one time I went I was surprised at the parts I saw. A local person drove me around and maybe we saw only the good parts but I recall how well-maintained the Victorian style houses were.

    I’ve never been to Oregon but hear only good things.

  9. Lucrezia Said:

    A general respect for people, an effort to learn some of their customs, accompanied by interest in same and a warm smile, usually opens all doors — even creaky and seldom used ones. There are exceptions, and I found Nashville and Knoxville Tennessee, less than welcoming. This is not to warn people away. Attitudes change, and a trip to the mountains reveals a beautiful state.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’ve only been to Nashville airport and don’t remember anything about it except country western music played over the loudspeaker and if it hadn’t, I would have been disappointed.

    I have a friend in Memphis who has shown me stunning architecture, lovely neighborhoods, charming boutiques, an eye-catching hotel and treated me to some of the best barbeque in the world. I kept the plastic cup that came with my drink and just seeing it in my kitchen cabinet makes me nostalgic. I also had dinner in a world-class restaurant in a restored building.

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