Sail Away, Sail Away, Sail Away
New Bedford Massachusetts is a city full of artists, and also home to America’s #1 fishing fleet. While many other cities along the coasts have seen their waterfronts gentrified and condo-ized, in this old city, scores of workers still go down to the sea and there are working fishing vessels parked next to ferries and an old schooner.
My boyfriend and I had the chance to visit New Bedford for the weekend in July 2014. As soon as we arrived, I was reminded of Salem, MA. The small brick alleys, quaint local shops, museums and the nearby ocean are probably what’s causing the memories for me. The atmosphere is relaxed and the city smells like fresh fish and salty ocean air.
Our first stop was the New Bedford Whaling Museum. We had quite a colorful tour guide, Larry and boy did we learn a lot from him! He was very personable and seemed to know just about everything there is to know about New Bedford’s history. READ MORE ABOUT THE WHALING MUSEUM
Our next stop was a café literally right behind the museum. It was lunchtime at Tia Maria’s featuring Portuguese dishes. The first thing I noticed once we were seated was a small “living room” in the back of the restaurant.
I spoke with the owner, Jessica, about that and she explained when she took over the café, she wanted to maintain some of the atmosphere the loyal customers were used to (like a Wi-Fi coffee house/lounge) and the Portuguese traditionally have two living rooms. One is only used for special occasions to show off when having company over.
As for the food, Cliff ordered Mozambique Chicken which was quite delicious! When conversing with Jessica, she told us some of the ingredients for the sauce were beer, garlic, parsley and a variety of other things. I ordered the Portuguese burger which came with cheese and a special sauce made of ketchup and onions (my favorite!).
Harbor Tour with Whaling City Expeditions
I’d never seen so many boats in my life. Many of them were large, traditional-looking ships that were privately owned. A good handful of these boats are owned by a 70-something resident and local legend named Carlos Raphael. He migrated to New Bedford from the Azores in 1968 and owns over 30 fishing vessels and employs some 300 people. He loves to fish.
Despite not being a whaling town anymore (considering commercial whaling is now banned) New Bedford makes about $100 million in fishing alone. There are 350 fishing boats in the harbor.
Steve told us about the nearby Acushnet River that was originally the name of a Native American, Chief Acushnet. However the name of the River is second hand and actually was named after a whaling ship that happened to have an occupant by the name of Herman Melville (wink, wink.)
The harbor is about a 55-minute boat ride from Martha’s Vineyard and has a few small islands within it. Palmer Island is home to one of the oldest lighthouses that is still active.
Just a hop away is Fort Taber that was built just before the Civil War. I was able to see cannons left over on the top of the hill. We also got to see some large brick buildings that formerly housed the textile mills.
The second part of the tour took us to the harbor of Fairhaven. We learned that Henry Huttleston Rogers was responsible for building some schools, a Unitarian church and a library for the town. He was quite a generous man that got mad rich off the oil business and decided to give back to his community.
Later that evening we had dinner hosted by Spicy Lime. What this snug restaurant lacks in décor it makes up for in delicious Thai food! I was surprised at how low their prices are. I almost feel they are undercharging for what they serve. The neighborhood isn’t impressive but the food and hospitality more than makes up for it.
I met the owner, Lita, who is from Thailand. She said some of the more popular items are her curry meals and the fried chicken. She sent over some complimentary lettuce chicken lettuce wraps with crushed peanuts and peanut sauce.
We split an appetizer of Crab Rangoon and some Fried Rice appetizer that consisted of chicken, pineapple, raisins, carrots, cashews, peas and maybe a few other vegetables. The food from start to finish was fantastic! I can’t express enough how good the service is and how delicious Spicy Lime’s cuisine is!
Reaching New Heights
Shortly after breakfast the next day we headed to Carabiner’s Climbing and Fitness Center for our first ever indoor rock climbing session. Our instructor was a 20 yr old student named Britt who was very patient with both of us (even after my boyfriend decided to be extra ballsy and climb the more difficult wall and as a result sustained a minor injury and I was irrationally petrified of flying off the wall, over the balcony and staircase to land on the bottom floor).
I’m terrified of heights but it got easier and much less nerve racking the more times I did it. I even made it to t