All Aboard for Portland

To the experienced business traveler, Portland is not a bad place to arrive. The airport is small and easy to navigate; the highways are only somewhat confusing. By far the best way to arrive, in my opinion, is via the Downeaster, Amtrak’s service between Boston and Maine.

Yes, it takes longer than driving between the two cities. Well, at least if you drive the way I do. But for a $48 round-trip ticket, you don’t have to pay for parking, gas, or tolls. Plus you get to relax in comfortable seats with wifi and electrical outlets to help you stay entertained and/or productive on the journey.

The trains offer a handy option for those Mainers who wish to attend Boston sporting events (the final stop is at North Station, which is in the same building as the Celtics and Bruins home games and a short subway ride away from the famed Fenway Park) and perhaps enjoy a beer or four without having to worry about driving back home.

Even better, they allow virtually stress-free travel to Portland for those flying into Boston (you’ll need a cab or subway to get from Logan Airport to North Station) and for Bostonians looking to get out of town for a weekend or more.

Because the Downeaster also stops in Old Orchard Beach (summer only), Saco and Wells, you can also use it for brief day trips away from Portland, no car required.

Each train has bathrooms, a cafe car with a small but adequate selection of breakfast, and friendly, helpful conductors who also offer travel information and advice. On my trip back from Boston today, one of them stopped to let a little girl pose for pictures wearing his conductor’s hat.

Once in Portland, it’s a good idea to have a car waiting for you. The city has a bus system, but it’s pretty limited. You can arrange this with a rental agency, or take a taxi at the station. Parking at the train station lot is a mere $3 a day — a pittance to those used to leaving their vehicles in Boston or New York.

Airport Car Express is one of the best local taxi companies which provides a Lincoln Towncar Limo at a rate comparable to most taxi companies

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