Thursday in Portland

After a relatively smooth flight, I arrived in Portland, Maine just before noon. The hotel’s shuttle was prompt and the driver friendly. The ride into the city took about 15 minutes.

The Portland Regency is an elegant hotel filled with old-fashioned charm. The organizers for this retreat chose wisely. Described as neo-classic it sits two blocks from the waterfront. It was built in 1885 as an Armory for the National Guard. In addition to its use as an armory, the drill hall served as an auditorium. During World War II the US Navy used the building as a recreation center. In 1962 it was almost razed by the military as surplus property. Fortunately it was saved and served as a warehouse until the mid-1980s when it was purchased for conversion to a hotel. In 1987 the building opened as The Portland Regency Hotel & Spa. (Info courtesy of the Historic Hotels of America.)

Portland weather has been undecided today, varying between sun and rain showers. Incredible cloud patterns. Shortly after unpacking, I took a walk along the brick paved sidewalks in the blocks surrounding the hotel. Lots of shops and restaurants in the area.

My roommate arrived early afternoon and we spent hours catching up, as friends do. This evening the hotel shuttle gave us a lift to the Ri Ra Irish Pub several blocks away. We continued our talk over drinks, crab cakes (superb!), champ (mashed potatoes with scallions), and asparagus. Our four-hour meal ended with a shared slice of sinfully delicious raspberry cheesecake. Both the service and the atmosphere at the Ri Ra were top-rate. More rainfall so we called the hotel for our ride back.

Tomorrow other attendees will arrive and we will begin the 2008 Kiss of Death Writer’s Retreat. Looking forward to it! Please check back in for tomorrow night’s post.

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