Friday, April 4, 2014

What to do in Portland, OR

In lieu of Friday Favorites, I bring you my new favorite city!

Every year my workplace gives me one free train ticket to go somewhere between Eugene, OR, and Vancouver, BC, because I take the bus to work all the time or something. I don't ask a lot of questions about the free train ticket because I LOVE TRAINS. Last year, Tyler and I went to Vancouver. This year, we elected to visit Portland.

Portland is weird and I'm totally okay with that. In fact, I love it.
We stayed in the Burnside/Buckman area, in an apartment we had all to ourselves because AirBnB is great like that. The first thing we noticed about Portland is that all the streets, at least everywhere we wandered, were nice and flat - perfect for walking or biking. And also, it was sunny and warm and smelled like California, on a weekend when Seattle was being pelted with cold, juicy rain.

There were signs everywhere extolling the virtues of play. I am so down with that.

The first thing we did once we were settled in was walk to EastBurn, a cute bar with outdoor seating. The indoor seating was swings, and we really wanted to sit on them, but they were all reserved. I sat in one for just a moment because I couldn't help myself.

We look a little ragged in these pictures, but to be fair, we'd just been on a train for five hours.

The food and drinks were marvelous and so inexpensive that I couldn't quite believe it. You're telling me nice cocktails exist for UNDER $9 outside of Seattle? It was like we were in Iowa, except much better.

That thing in the upper right corner would be FRIED BRIE.

After snacks we just wandered around the neighborhood, enjoying how very Portland it all was. We saw a lot of chickens.

Later that night, I told Tyler I wanted to go to a - gasp! - strip club. We chose Hawthorne Strip because it was within walking distance and it sounded like it was just basically your classic neighborhood dive bar, with the addition of naked people.

This was taken on our last day in town because I wanted a picture while it was light out. I looked much nicer the night we actually went inside.

The naked people were excellent dancers and most of them had really good taste in music. I went a little overboard on the coke & bourbon and befriended a nice regular named Tim who was about our age, and he took us to his favorite sandwich shop, Devil's Dill. I don't remember much of that business. I sort of remember walking home, doing my usual woe-is-me drunken sobbing bit (to Tyler's delight, I'm sure!), waking up in the middle of the night and declaring that I would eat the sandwich we'd bought in bed, taking one bite and deciding that it was too messy and putting it back in the fridge. And I definitely remember the epic, evil hangover I had the next day. (Some might say it served me right, going to a strip club. I might disagree with those people, but that's a post for another day, and really something better addressed by Tits & Sass.)

Quick disclaimer: I'm not actually drinking, drunk, or hungover all the time! I actually drink way, way less than most 25-year-olds I know - hell, less than most 19- or 49-year-olds I know, even. As I explained to my mother the other day, it's like shark attacks. They don't actually happen that often but when they do happen, people tend to talk about them A LOT and they're so over-hyped that we end up thinking that sharks are always going out and getting wasted biting people. I learned in an undergraduate psychology class that that's called a "fear heuristic." Anyway. Back to Portland.

On Saturday, Tyler took me to the part of Hawthorne that's all cool shops, and I could just barely muster up enough enthusiasm and energy to poke around inside one or two. He even voluntarily entered a vintage store for me and tried to interest me in some stuff there, but I told him I had to leave because I didn't want to throw up on their nice things.

Yep, that's Tyler holding a very classy wooden penis/bottle opener. I barely even cared.

I started to perk up when we went to the Mississippi neighborhood once I entered, of all things, a plant store!

I have the blackest of black thumbs, but I had it in my head that I needed an air plant terrarium.

You pick an air plant and a container, then you choose moss and rocks and sand from these drawers.

Putting one together distracted me beautifully from my pain and suffering. (Sadly, my terrarium broke later, on the train probably. I'm not ashamed to say that I cried when I realized it was broken.) I emerged triumphantly from the store to reunite with Tyler at Stormbreaker, a bar with an outdoor patio full of adorable dogs.

And then Tyler got stuck in a tire-swing.

But he looked good doing it.

I laughed the rest of my hangover away and we celebrated with nachos (in retrospect, not the best choice for someone with recent tummy distress) at the Oregon Public House, a pub where you can choose to which charity you'll donate a portion of your bill. Pretty cool concept!

The next day, we decided to wander around downtown. We found this store and, having watched "Portlandia," I had to pose under the sign, cheesy as it seemed.

Cacao to cacao.
Maybe I made the appropriate tithe to the Portland gods or something, because soon after that we discovered Carrie and Fred at Powell's!

Even more adorable in person!
The rest of the day was spent meandering, checking out a few more places (like Prasad, Food Fight - your friendly neighborhood vegan grocer - Bailey's Taproom, and Cartopia - a veritable food cart utopia), then hopping back on the train.

I fell deep, deeply in love with Portland that weekend and I'm still dreaming of it! It feels like sacrilege to say this when Seattle is such a wonderful city.. but I might consider a move in the not too distant future.


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