Well, it sure has been awhile since I last updated the ol’ blog eh? Sorry about that – life has been busy lately. What with work, prepping for internship (which, by the way, is less than a month away), throwing out my back, and celebrating another birthday, it has left me with little time in front of the computer screen. Not to mention I spent some time taking a little road trip to Portland, Oregon as well. I thought it would be fun to do a little recap of the highlights from the trip for you 🙂
Did you know Portland is America’s Bicycle Capital? I didn’t.
Portland is a great destination if you only have a few days to spend on vacation – the drive is about 6 hours (maybe longer depending on how often you stop for stretching breaks) from Vancouver, so if you get up early, you’ll have half the day to spend exploring the city. We only had 4 days for our trip, and although there were definitely more things we would have liked to explore, it was still long enough to get a good feel for the city and feel like we had gotten away from daily life.
We stayed just across the Willamette River outside of downtown, but luckily Portland has free rapid transit within the downtown/convention centre core that we took full advantage of to go out and explore. Good on ya Portland for making it easy for us tourists to get around!
The weather was great – sunny every day – although I could have done without the humidity. Silly me thought it would be similar to Vancouver, what with being on the west coast and all, but I guess they are far enough south that the temperatures are a bit higher. I think I might like to go back either in the spring or the fall, so that the temperature agrees with my body better.
I loved the vibe in the city. Very “west coast” and similar to parts of Vancouver. Lots of great unique shops and restaurants – I don’t think I saw any chain fast food places in the downtown core (or maybe I wasn’t looking very hard). Very walkable, lots of green spaces, lots to explore. Oh, and wifi everywhere! We could even get wifi in some of the parks in downtown – again, a plus for the traveller from Canada who doesn’t want to pay hundreds of $$ in roaming charges!
So what did we do while we were there? Well, we had to hit up the world famous Powell’s Books. How can you go wrong with a bookstore that is a full city block, and 3 stories tall? Much time was spent browsing the isle, and selecting our purchases.
A Pacific Northwest cookbook, a science geek book about the history of the periodic table, a ridiculous card game, and a robot tea infuser(!)
Portland is also famous for their food cart scene. Thank you to Eat St. for giving me plenty of carts to search out.
Unfortunately, we only had time to actually dine at a few.
On our first full day there, we had lunch at one of the major food cart pods downtown. So many options – it was hard to choose. I decided to try out a cuisine we don’t see much of in Vancouver, and went with the Cuban cart.
I went with the Cuban sandwich and tostones (memories of Ecuador right there). The sandwich was great, but a bit saltier than I wanted, especially on such a hot day.
The next day saw us combine breakfast and lunch into one meal at a food cart we had seen on tv and put on our must try list – Big Ass Sandwiches.
No redeeming health qualities here – this is ridiculously huge portioned street food. Big Ass Sandwiches makes various sandwiches which they then stuff with fries. Which, when you think about it, makes a lot of sense when it comes to portable street food. By combining the sandwich and side into one monstrosity you have something you can eat in one hand while going about your business.
I don’t know that you can get a true appreciation for the size of that bad boy. But it was full of turkey, onions, mushrooms, cheese sauce, and fries. Not something generally on my list of daily eats, but a good idea considering our next stop for the afternoon was the Oregon Brewer’s Festival. An afternoon of beer tasting definitely warrants a substantial, carb filled meal.
The festival was held in a park along the waterfront, and happens the last weekend in July every year. This year was the 25th anniversary, and even though it was my first time going, I must say, it sure seemed like a great party! I am no beer drinker, that’s for sure. but I was willing to give the beers a fair shot. I figured with over 80 brews available for tasting, there had to at least be a few I could enjoy.
Beer swilling fun!
I have determined I don’t like hoppy beer. Fruit beers are generally better for me. I think my favourite was a chocolate raspberry porter I had in the Buzz tent (which I think featured experimental beers from a few breweries).
Speaking of beer – did you know Portland is also known for their vast array of microbreweries? We checked out three different brew pubs for dinner each night we were there – Bridgeport Brewery, Rogue Ales, and Deschutes Brewery.
And yes, I even ordered a tasting flight at Rogue. What can I say, I was feeling adventuresome. I balanced it out by buying a bottle of their Pink Gin to take home with me (which, was delicious!)
The food was great at each of the brewpubs, but the best meal (and most Portland one, I think) was at Bridgeport. I ordered the vegan bowl (at a brew pub!) which consisted of quinoa, black beans, sweet potato, kale, edamame, avocado, with a spicy cashew sauce. You know you are in a west coast hippy city when you can order amazing vegan fare in a brew pub.
Of course, no trip to Portland would be complete without a stop (or 2, or 3) at Voodoo Doughnuts.
We waited in the very hot sun up against the painted sparkly gold building (not a good combination) for a good 20 – 30 min to get in and make our selections.
I don’t mind waiting in line, but it would have helped if they had a menu posted outside so that once we finally made it in and up to the counter, we would have an idea of what we wanted to order. This would definitely speed up the whole donut procurement process. No matter. Soon enough, we had sweet delicious donut goodness in our very warm hands.
My travelling companion’s selection was the Old Dirty Bastard – a yeast donut topped with icing, crumbled oreo, and peanut butter.
I felt it necessary to start out with the classic voodoo doll donut – basically a long john with arms, stabbed in the heart with a pretzel, and filled with raspberry jam. Yum!
Not gonna lie – these were good donuts. Good enough we went back the next night to get a half dozen to bring back to Vancouver with us.
One of them may have been the maple bacon. Salty sweet amazingness.
There was also this feature donut – a psychedelic creation filled with lemon. Also great.
As you can see, you sure can pack a lot of fun, food, and beer into 2 1/2 days! A great getaway for sure. Portland – I approve!