The only way I can accurately describe this semester is by how I felt at the end of it: a mind-numbing headache. Upon waking Saturday morning, I was greeted, nay bombarded, by quite possibly the worst headache of this 26 years. It refused abatement by water or NSAIDs, and slowly radiated to my eyeballs and jaw. I was incredibly disappointed, as I was driving up to Portland, ME, for the weekend: a trip I had planned for myself weeks in advanced, as I knew spirits at this point would be guttural. And I chose a hotel that came highly recommended by a classmate: The Press Hotel, feeling hopeful it would sooth my sorrows and revive my verve.
The headache persisted upon the 2 hour drive up, and I stumbled into the hotel with rabid eyes desperately seeking a caffeine watering hole. Upon checking in, my nose lifted my feet and with basset hound ferocity I happily discovered a cafe in the lobby (the hotel has a built-in cafe called Inkwell). Temporarily revived by an almond milk latte and house-made blueberry muffin (which was delightfully delicious and comforted me immensely), I prepared for a yoga class the hotel was hosting as part of a self care Saturdays initiative. With my drawn pallor, heavy head, and aching upper back from weeks of kyphotic hunching over notes and lectures, I walked down the typewriter-lined staircase (the hotel is a refurbished newspaper press) and arrived with the intent to fetal position-asana for the entirety of the class; even child’s pose seemed too advanced for my sorry state.
When the music began, to my surprise it wasn’t drawn out syllables in variations of the word “om” that filled the room, but instead a Macklemore song with the lyrics, “someday these will be the good old days.” Previously lifeless with limbs lazily heaped on my mat, I perked up. In a semester bloated with exams, presentations, and classroom time, where the days feel like months, it is incredibly easy to look to the next chapter, and allow the anxiety to usurp the ability to be happy in the present. To visualize pressing a 2x fast forward button similar to that of re-listening to a slow lecture. I was spontaneously struck by the reminder that through this program, I’ve met some really life-changing people, am constantly and daily challenged, and am living out the dream and goal I made for myself years ago. The class was led by Kate of Shift Portland, and was a reviving combination of stretching, sweating, and savasana-ing. Each yoga pose was balanced with a heart-lifting cardio burst, so I emerged from the class transformed from lazy to lively.
After class, the headache had deescalated from a roar to a whisper, and so we emerged into overcast and charming Portland to explore for the day. Starting with (yes, another) coffee from Bard and a crab / lobster roll from The Highroller, we walked the cobblestone streets with no agenda until dinnertime, meandering into candy stores and psychics shops with only dinner reservations at Union in our near future. The restaurant is located in the Press Hotel, which meant I started getting dressed for dinner at 7pm to make it to our 7:15pm reservation time. The same classmate who suggested The Press also suggested the restaurant, and my experience perhaps even exceeded the glowing review. I ordered the salmon paired with perfectly al dente potatoes, a light and lemony cream sauce, and fresh greens, leaving satiated and smiley. 12/10 recommend.
The next day was a cranky hybrid of snowing and raining (greetings, mid-April in New England!!!!!), meaning brunch and breweries on the line up. I had pancakes and paella from Local 188 (thiccest pancake I’ve ever seen/tasted) followed by a few beers at Oxbow, a nap (since a day of eating / drinking is exhausting after all) and then some seriously tasty ramen from The Honey Paw for dinner.
A few other Portland, ME food recommendations:
- donuts from The Holy Donut
- juices / smoothies / smoothie bowl from Blake Orchard Juicery (try the iced matcha!! Best I’ve ever had!)
- french fries and milkshakes from Duck Fat (also came highly recommended)
- cocktails from Portland Hunt & Alpine
- dinner at Fore Street (tried to get reservations but couldn’t, so book at least 2 weeks in advanced!)
After just a few short days, I drove back with a renewed sense of remembering that the current days, however stressful and arduous they may be, will one day be the good old days, and I have The Press Hotel to thank for being the anchor of this reminder.
The Press Hotel was impressive in every way. From the Peloton bike and TRX bands in the hotel gym to the on brand typewriter keyboards in the lobby to even the iPhone chargers strategically placed right above the headboard, each and every detail was purposefully crafted. I clocked in a blissful 9 hours of sleep per night likely due to the perfect combination of plush yet firm mattress and pillows (note to self: email hotel and ask for pillow brand). It gets my highest recommendation, and I really can’t wait to be back. Portland is an accessible and affordable (think beer flights at a brewery for $6 each) trip from Boston, and I am typing this in my living room headache free / revived / restored / rejuvenated. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for gifting our stay so that I can so confidently share what a wonderful experience it was.
Portland / New England natives: this upcoming Saturday will be a barre class hosted by PureBarre (tickets here). You can use the hashtag #presswellnessmonth before April 30th 2018 and tell the hotel what you do for your health and wellbeing to be entered into a drawing for an overnight stay and a Press yoga mat! You can also make a reservation to stay with The Press on either Friday, April 13th or Friday, April 27th and mention “The Press Wellness Month” to receive a special discounted rate and surprise welcome amenity. Call 207.808.8727 to reserve your guest room.
If you’re from Portland, ME, and have any additional recommendations you’d love for people to know about, please leave it in the comments below! I love adding to insider tips to travel posts to better enrich the experience for others!