My Fulbright Story: Portland, Maine

One of the best things about living in the Northeast is the interconnectedness between different states. For example, from Boston, you can take the Amtrak to travel up north to Maine or down south to states like New Hampshire, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Virginia, or even west to Illinois via Indiana and Ohio. 

With tickets generally costing < $100 USD one-way, the possibilities are endless! 

Best of all, the train takes you from city centre to city centre which means you can start exploring right away!

On a reasonably ‘warm’ day (i.e. about -4 degrees Celcius), my friends and I decided to go for a little one-day adventure to Portland, Maine.

Duration: 2 hrs 30 min (one way)

Cost: 29 USD (one way) 

(If you’re seeking to splurge a little, an upgrade to a business class seat is 10 USD (one way) which includes a hot beverage and ample legroom)

I’d describe Portland as a quaint city. Granted, we arrived on a Sunday, so it was quieter than usual with many stores closed for business.

One half of Old Port was lined with charming boutique shops whilst the other half featured rows of seafood restaurants along the harbour. (Yes, there were a lot of infamous Maine lobsters on the menu!)

Given that we only had 7 hours to explore the city, we made purposeful visits to try out some of the city’s most highly recommended destinations. 


As the name suggests, this restaurant loves cooking with duck fat. 

Their signature item is their duck fat cooked chips (or fries as they say in the US). They were certainly delicious. 

But some of the more unusual items include duck fat cooked donuts and milkshakes made out of sea salted duck fat caramel!

Surprisingly, what fascinated me more weren’t the fries. 

It’s this seat warmer called Hüga. Made in Maine, these battery-powered seat warmers were the perfect accessory to enjoying a nice outdoor lunch! 

Hüga seat warmer

Holy Donut

I love a good ‘how we got here’ story and the one behind Holy Donut does not disappoint.

Backed by mum’s retirement savings, this father-daughter venture set out to create one of Maine’s best donuts using a unique ingredient – potatoes.

All potato donuts are freshly made and come with a variety of flavours. 

My attention immediately went to Maple Bacon – it’s a sweet-salty-smoky concoction that just screams North America. 

Maple Bacon Holy Donut

Although as much as I enjoyed it, the real winner for me was actually Triple Berry – it had just the right amount of sweetness and a bit of tartness from the raspberry.  

Portland Head Light

As a coastal city, Portland has plenty of scenic walks. In fact, it has six lighthouses within 20 minutes of the city centre

One of the most popular lighthouses is Portland Head Light which is situated along Fort Williams Park. 

Although the Lighthouse was completed in 1791, the area is rich in its history. For example, during the American Revolution, Portland Head was used to warn citizens of incoming British attacks. 

Today, the area offers scenic hiking routes and communal playgrounds. 

However, when you visit in winter after a recent snowstorm (like we did), there’s plenty of leftover snow to make a snowman, have snowball fights and go tobogganing! 

Above all, the most interesting thing I observed were these unique American charcoal grills! As Aussies, we love a good sausage sizzle at the park using communal electric BBQs. 

How do they compare to Aussie BBQs? I’ll get back to you on that. But for now, they certainly seem like the real deal.

Have you taken the Amtrak? What are your trip recommendations? Let me know in the comments below! 

This post is not sponsored. All views are my own.

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