Going Where the Locals Go

18 10 2011

Much can be missed by not taking the road less traveled but how often do we ask why that road is less traveled.

Last night, Linda and I got up the courage to order two whole lobsters at a restaurant here in Bar Harbor.  It was the last night of the season for the restaurant and all the proceeds were being donated to the Bar Harbor Food Bank.  We weren’t aware of the charity dinner; we just heard it was a good place to eat lobster.  Fortunately, we made a reservation to eat an early dinner at 4:30.  Within just a few minutes after we were seated the place was packed.  And, it was packed with mostly Islanders as the locals are called.

When the waitress brought us our lobsters she was very helpful and patient in explaining how to crack and eat our crustacians.  She had so many customers to serve that one time and one time only was she going to tell us the tricks.  Linda and I glanced at each other with that caught-in-the headlights look and began to dig in.

Apparently, our lack of expertise and our need for remediation were obvious.  The couple next to us starting giving us pointers on how to extract all the meat from the lobster, just not the tail and the claws.  Over the course of the meal, a conversation ensued and, indeed, they were Islanders.  He was a native born inhabitant and she visited the island one summer back in the late 1960s when she was in college and never left.  If I would have found this place at age twenty, I’m not so sure I would have left either.

As the conversation progressed and we exchanged backgrounds along with the obligatory comparison of how many grandchildren each couple has, they made suggestions as to where we might want to go that the very few tourists even know about.  Bingo! We hit the motherlode.  They told us about a place that they go all the time for seafood because it is so good and so reasonable.  After they told us about the place I had to make sure I heard them correctly–a soft serve ice cream snack bar?  Yup! As they say on the island.

We got back to the B&B after dinner and shared our experience with the Matt and Kristi, the innkeepers.  Matt’s eyes lit up and confirmed that Jordan’s Snack Bar was a great place to eat seafood.  That led to a whole other conversation.

As I wrote in a previous post, our first night in Bar Harbor we ate at the Thirsty Whale.  The Whale as the Islanders refer to the place is a pub with all the positives and negatives that term implies–we loved it.  Matt said that he knew based on our earlier conversation about how much we enjoyed the Whale that we were not the type of people to want/need/expect fancy, and quite often, over-priced food.  He did say that he knew we liked good food, though.

He  went on to say that if we like the shoreline on the island that we should go off the island and drive the hour or so to a spot across the bay called Schoodic Point.  He said most tourists never got over there but it is the best place in the are to see the surf crashing on the granite boulders and cliffs.  In addition, he told us that we would be going right past Jordan’s as well as going through some classic small fishing village.

Based on our new information, we changed our how plan for the day and are we ever glad we did.  Thus far, our trip to Schoodic Point has been the highlight of our trip.  Although I will admit watching the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain is a close second.

I think I leaned something about traveling yesterday.  It is important to do the touristy things but it to get the real flavor of a place, you need to find out where the locals go.  If I was traveling to Paris, of course, I would want to go up in the Eiffel Tower but I would also like to eat where the locals eat and shop where the locals shop.  Staying in a B&B for multiple nights seems to me the ideal way to accomplish this.  At least that is the story I’m sticking to at this point.

Tomorrow we do a only planned activity which we hope will be the crowning experience of our trip to Maine.  As a surprise for Linda, I chartered a 100-year old shrimping boat and captain for a three-hour sunset cruise around the bays and islands along with an authentic Maine Lobster bake.  I’ll take lots of pictures and post about it tomorrow evening from our hotel.

-gw-

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