Bath

48HRS – March 2014
Photographs + stories by Maine magazine staff:
Susan Grisanti, Editor-in-Chief

 

Susan Grisanti, Editor-in-Chief

 

Bath is a town rich with artists, music, great food, a strong sense of community and some of the purest and most beautifully maintained nineteenth-century architecture around. Bounded by river and ledge, the walkable downtown—recently named one of “America’s Best Main Streets” by Fodor’s Travel—is dotted with boutiques, galleries, natural markets, sweet shops, bars, and restaurants. Many threads of the area’s fabric tie back to its shipbuilding history, which through Bath Iron Works remains a significant influence on the area today. It seems that wherever I go in Bath, the BIW crane looms over the scene, casting a romantic shadow on the whole experience.

 

Friday

5:45 p.m. @ Inn at Bath

My traveling companion, Paul, and I have “lucked” into one of the most frigid and windy weekends of the year for our trip. Fires are roaring in the inn’s living rooms and fellow vacationers are curled up on couches reading and sipping glasses of wine. Innkeeper Elizabeth Knowlton is a kind and generous host who readily shares her knowledge of the area with us.

6:00 p.m. @ Byrne’s Irish Pub

We meet Elise Johansen, director of Equality Maine, and contributor to Maine mag’s Wedding Issue, for a drink at this welcoming spot that is packed with regulars. She lives in the area and loves Byrne’s vegetarian options. Fried pickles are a special favorite. She picks up two orders to bring home before we part ways.

7:30 p.m. @ Solo Bistro

We feast on butternut squash soup, pan-seared scallops, and hanger steak and frites, and agree that Solo Bistro serves up one of the better meals to be had in the state. The stylish Scandinavian decor and the live jazz of Bill Barnes and Jim Lyden makes the experience all the more enjoyable. We finish our wine while we ponder heading over to see what’s happening at the Chocolate Church Arts Center this evening.

 

Saturday

7:15 a.m. @ Starlight Cafe

An early start allows for breakfast together before Paul heads to the Camden Snow Bowl. Veggie scrambles, home fries, and steaming cups of tea fuel us for the chilly day ahead.

9:00 a.m. @ Water Street Yoga

A fire burning in the woodstove, the sun streaming in through extra-large windows, and teacher Wendy Briggs’s wonderful energy warm the space. I’m relaxed and energized all at once by the practice. As we collect our things at the end of class, I chat with Mary Herman, Maine’s former first lady, about her work with community schools and visits to Washington, D.C. with her husband, Senator Angus King. I am introduced to Jennifer Geiger, who works with Main Street Bath, a historic preservation and revitalization program. Jennifer offers to take me to some special spots around town.

10:15 a.m. @ Artist Studios of Tom Paiement, John Gable, and M. Ekola Gerberick

I get the special treat of seeing each of these artists’ work spaces. Paiement’s work, so graphic and seemingly simple, draws me in close enough to notice that just beneath the surface lurks so much meaning and emotion. Each color is a complicated, multilayered mix. At Gable’s studio we see two impressive and intricate murals in progress: one for a hotel in Florida, another for a Washington, D.C. restaurant. And artist and poet Gerberick captivates us with her artwork and the artistry of her space.

11:30 a.m. @ The Bath Freight Shed Farmer’s Market

Cords of hundreds of round lights strung from the ceiling, wide plank floors, live music playing, and table upon table of farm-fresh produce and gourmet ingredients—it just doesn’t get any more feel-good than this.

12:00 p.m. Cafe Creme

It seems the whole town has gathered here to fight off the chill. Geiger and I nab a table, get hot drinks, and formulate a plan.

12:20 p.m. @ Front Street Co-Op, Bohemian Rose, and Best Thai II

I agree to help Geiger shop for a gift for a teenage relative before we grab a quick and very tasty Thai lunch.

1:30 p.m. @ Water and Front Streets

After I find the perfect gift (a delicate pair of silver anchor earrings at Pamela’s World), I head in the back door of Reny’s where I unearth a great Pendleton wool brimmed hat. I browse through New England Antiques, and Springer’s jewelers. At Ornament Home and Garden I linger over French linens, and at House of Logan I’m drawn to the Kinross cashmere. At Now You’re Cooking, a cookware shop the size of a full city block, I get a lesson and the right tools to keep my knives sharp, and at Markings Gallery the Jones Limited linens, hand-woven in central Maine, are a favorite.

2:30 p.m. @ Centre Street

I visit Centre St. Arts Gallery and the Bath Sweet Shoppe, where I pick up several decadent treats for later. I find a few healthier snacks at the Bath Natural Market.

3:00 p.m. @ Front Street

I wander through Pitter Patter, a fantastic baby shop with the sweetest, softest items, Brick Store Antiques, and Lisa Marie’s Made in Maine, where I go nuts for meticulously crafted Shaker boxes made by Jerry Martin in Greene. I stop into Wags and Whiskers, Island Treasure Toys, and Mariners Compass Quilt and remember the pleasure of shopping in real bricks-and-mortar shops with selections that can be perused in person. Outside I run into my coworker, Peter Heinz, who lives in the area. Thankful to be saved from the frigid walk back to the inn, we take a quick spin through the legendary Halcyon Yarn, a mecca for weavers and knitters, before he drops me back at the inn.

4:00 p.m. @ Thorne Head Preserve

While I was hell-bent on visiting many of the downtown Bath shops, I am thrilled to be reunited with Paul and to take in some of the natural beauty of the area. We pack the snowshoes in the car, and head to the end of High Street at the north end of town. We trek through the woods until we reach the edge of the preserve, a cliff that overlooks Merrymeeting Bay, just before sunset.

7:00 p.m. @ Kennebec Tavern and Marina

After a rest at the inn, we’re hungry. The tavern’s trademark fried parsnips, crab cakes, and frosty beers hit the spot.

8:00 p.m. @ Beale Street Barbeque

We’ve set our cravings on barbeque, and dinner does not disappoint. We feast on perfectly slow-smoked chicken and pulled pork, paired with collard greens, roasted sweet potatoes, and cornbread.

9:15 p.m. @ Front Street Public House

The place is packed with young and old, townies and elegant couples. Singer Lauren Crosby fills the place with her big voice and fantastic showmanship. We stay for hours, enjoying conversations with locals and the warmth of the place.

 

 

Sunday

9:00 a.m. @ Mae’s Cafe and Bakery and Cafe Creme

After a delicious breakfast we grab a bag of Mae’s gluten-free granola for home. And then one final stop at the cafe, for two big cups of tea for the road.

10:15 a.m. @ Morse Mountain, Phippsburg

We have set out on our climb to the top when we run into friends of Paul’s coming down with sleds laden with bags. They’ve been staying at Eyrie, one of five houses available to rent from the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area. They swear us to secrecy about this spot—and I tell them I cannot make any promises! Once we reach the top we’re wowed with spectacular views of Seawall Beach, and Seguin Island.

12:00 p.m. @ Maine Maritime Museum

Before we even enter the place, we learn about Bath’s shipbuilding history from the wonderful woman at the front desk. We chat for some time while she wows us with her knowledge and sincere and contagious excitement for the museum’s mission. Paul and I wander through all of the exhibits, lingering and wondering over historic items that tell us something more than we expect.

 

1:15 p.m. @ The Cabin

We grab slices at this locally revered pizza joint before we hit the road home—our cheeks rosy and windburned and our hearts and heads full of memories of this place.

Share The Inspiration