Thursday, April 16, 2015

Portsmouth Recovery

It's been years - decades - since I was last in the little city of Portsmouth, NH.  It's the fourth largest "city" in the state of NH but, at a population of 20,000, it's really just a large town.  Or at least by Texas standards, anyway.   It's where I plan to spend the last two days of my trip to NH, exploring this historic little city and seeing how much it has changed since I was last there.

After the race in Newmarket on Sunday, I had a relaxing evening enjoying a Subway sandwich and a Smuttynose beer.  I was tired and more than ready to put my feet up and recover in front of the TV in my hotel room.
Historic Durham 

Monday morning I walked into the center of Durham and found the Breaking New Grounds coffee shop, enjoying the gorgeous weather and the pretty little town center.  University of New Hampshire occupies much of the real estate in town and the coffee shop had its share of students enjoying a coffee, their noses buried in their laptops.

I dallied as long as possible, knowing I had just a short drive to Portsmouth. But despite lingering in Durham as long as possible, I still showed up at the lovely and well-located Hilton Garden Inn before noon.  The hotel wasn't full and I was able to get checked in and get my things stowed in my room before venturing back out into the really pretty and historic Portsmouth waterfront district.

My long time friend from my U. Mass Lowell teaching days was coming to Portsmouth to join me for lunch the next day, so I had some scouting to do....a place with seafood and with a view of the water.  I'd done a little preliminary research using Google and thought I'd have success on Bow Street or Market Street.  And sure enough....River House, right on the harbor, with an outside heated deck off the back giving fabulous views of the water and the bridge that goes across the Piscataqua River to Maine.  Perfect!

I had their seasonal special:  bowl of New England clam chowder and a lobster roll.  It was heaven!  the lobster roll was overflowing with huge chunks of lobster and no mayonnaise to ruin the sweet delicate flavor of the lobster.  No question, this was where I was bringing my friend the next day!

After lunch I poked around in the little shops that line Market Street and surrounding streets in the Riverfront district.  A Starbucks sounded her siren call and, cappuccino in hand, I continued walking and enjoying the old historic buildings for a while longer before returning to the hotel.  I was still a little spent from the race the previous day, the hills in particular really taking a lot out of my legs and feet.  My knitting and my coffee drink in the comfortable easy chair and ottoman in my room were just what I needed for the rest of the afternoon.

Blue Mermaid Island Grill

An interesting restaurant right across the street from the hotel had caught my eye in my earlier research.  It wasn't on the water so I'd ruled it out as a place to bring my friend, but it was the perfect place for dinner.  A huge and interesting menu made my selection difficult but in the end I went with the grilled scallops, basted with a light glaze infused with a hint of blueberries.  Oh My!  So delicious!  I tried a local craft beer, one of many to choose from, all of them with intriguing names and descriptions.  Portsmouth is home to many craft breweries, continuing its long history of brewing, going back to the mid-1600's.

North Church in Portsmouth

The next morning I lazed around in the room for a while then got cleaned up and dressed and walked back over to the Starbucks for a morning wake-up drink.  It was the warmest day so far, and the sun was glorious, chasing away the last remnants of the overnight chill.  I sat on a bench in Market Square and enjoyed my coffee and the beautiful North Church.  The wonderfully restored historic brick warehouses along Market Street gleamed in the morning sun.  I'd fallen into such a reverie that I'd nearly lost track of time.

I hurried back to the hotel and just as I reached my room, my cell phone rang and it was my friend Dotty, here to share the day and lunch with me.  Back in October I had a wonderful visit with her and her husband when I was in Lowell to run a half marathon.  They had me to their house for a delicious dinner of steak kabobs cooked on the grill, and we spent hours talking and catching up on all that has passed through our lives in the last 20 years.

Our lunch in Portsmouth was no different.  I so enjoy Dotty's company!  We had lunch and lingered for hours afterward, chatting about our sons, about our travels, about the joys of being retired.  It was as if I'd never moved away.  Our conversation came so easily, as we remembered anecdotes and stories from our shared friendship so many years ago.  If we'd stayed any longer, the waitstaff would have felt compelled to bring us dinner menus.  We talked about some possibilities for some upcoming travels together and I promised to get her some information about a couple of my upcoming trips to the West, into a couple of regions that she's always wanted to visit.   We hugged and said our goodbyes and I wished this day could go on forever.

I walked back down to Starbucks for another coffee - just one more - and then returned to the hotel to start gathering my things and packing for my departure flight the next morning.

It's been a very good trip.  I checked off state #47 in my 50 States Half Marathon quest.  I had a delightful day spent with my long time high school friend Linda.  I met a new running friend and shared lunch with her and the race with her the next day.  I spent my last couple of days in the gorgeously restored historic town of Portsmouth and reconnected with my good friend Dotty.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely time in NH. The old historical area sound so pretty. I love old buildings.

    Sounds like you had a great visit with your friend and got to eat lots of delicious food too.