I don’t know if any of you have watched the show, ‘Portlandia’ or have heard anything about Portland but trust me when I say: everything that that show depicts or things you may have read or heard about Portland are absolutely true. It is the most eccentric city I have ever been to. A city where you find art on the walls, local coffee shops on every street, most delectable doughnuts, amazing food (even for a vegetarian), eclectic shops (great for shopping, especially because of no sales tax), bikes everywhere, tent streets, scenic hikes, food trucks at almost every corner and interesting people.
I had been itching to visit Portland ever since I heard Jerry Seinfeld mention on his Netflix show, ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’ that it’s one of his favorite cities in the world to visit. To be honest, I’m not sure why anyone would consider this city their “favorite city” but then again I’m not a comedian in a car getting coffee! The city has its idiosyncrasies, what irked me though was the number of homeless people just about everywhere. I have nothing against the homeless but I don’t particularly like being addressed as a ‘Germanese’ (whatever that means!) by a stoned guy with his pants falling off in the middle of the street.
Aside from the population of transients in Portland, the other peculiar thing I had heard about Portland was that the service in the restaurants/coffee shops/food trucks is quite slow. Our Uber driver mentioned the same- and also added, Portlanders (I think that’s what people from Portland are called?!) like to intentionally find places with long lines so that they can spend time with each other while waiting in line. Fortunately, we didn’t find the wait time to be too excessive, there were couple of coffee places that took a little bit longer than you would expect at a Starbucks but it wasn’t too bad.
One more thing that I noticed was the lack of chain fast food- I don’t think I saw a single McDonald’s or Burger King or KFC, etc. on our three day trip. I did see a few Starbucks but the number of local Coffee houses- Stumptown Coffee, Case Study Coffee, Human Bean, etc. – outnumbered the Starbucks. I love my coffee and I loved every coffee house that I tried. Actually, I loved all the food/coffee places that I tried. They were all one better than the other aaaaaannnnd I had the best ice cream at Salt & Straw– that Almond brittle with salted ganache in house made waffle cone was to die for- for me, it was worth the wait in the long line!
My favorite part about Portland, however, was all the greenery and the proximity to all the beautiful hikes. We went on few great hikes, starting with Forest Park– the ‘park’ is comprised of never ending trails (each with a different level of difficulty and distance) of lush green trees, rivers, ponds, ferns, mosses- all things we rarely get to see in Southern California. The proximity of this park from downtown makes it easily accessible and yet it feels like it’s in its own world. The trails you can access from here expand out to over 60 miles. It is also very close to International Rose Test Garden and the beautiful Japanese Garden. For our next hiking expedition we rented a car and made our way to Multnomah Falls– because of lot of road closures, it took us over an hour to finally get into the area. I’m glad we were determined because the view of the waterfall and the hike was totally worth it. Again, here as well, there were many options for hikes; both in distance and difficulty. On our last day, we made our way to the well known Pittock Mansion that has spectacular views of the city and more trails to hike.
With absolute perfect weather (I think we got lucky!), pet friendly restaurants, our centrally located hotel, Powell bookstore (it literally takes up a whole block), locally grown peonies, just about every great meal I had and every amazing hike I went on- I think by the end of the trip Portland did kinda grow on me 🙂
- Pearl District (Powell’s bookstore, art galleries, the biggest Anthropologie store that I have been to)
- Forest Park- hike to Witch’s castle
- Multnomah Falls
- International Rose Test Garden
- Japanese Garden
- Pittock Mansion
- Tasty N Alder
- Ava Gene’s
- Screen Door (for brunch)
- Pok Pok Thai
- Bollywood Theater (Indian food)
- Lechon (Argentine food)
- Food Trucks on Alder St. (they are pretty much everywhere)
- Blue Star Donuts (I wasn’t too impressed)
- Voodoo Doughnuts (I had one of the most decadent doughnuts I have ever had here-
- Salt & Straw Ice Cream