Travel Diary: Portland - Day 4

January 14, 2016: On my last day in Portland, I wanted to explore the Eastern Promenade Trail where you can view many of the famous bridges that cross the Willamette River into downtown.

The day started off with breakfast at the much hyped Tasty n Sons, where I ordered the Moroccan chicken hash and a "nutritious" chocolate potato doughnut on the side. The Moroccan chicken hash had a nice, complex blend of flavors that warmed the palette with its hint of spice. While I found the doughnut to be nice, it was a little on the dry and crumbly side unfortunately.

Moroccan Chicken Hash at Tasty n Sons.

Chocolate potato doughnut with creme anglaise at Tasty n Sons.

Something that made me chuckle while waiting for the bus.

After breakfast I headed towards the Eastern Promenade Trail. Right away, you’re confronted by the Steel Bridge, opening up for boats passing through and rumbling under the weight of the light rail and cars. The view from the walkway, you can peek through to the Broadway and Fremont bridges. On the other side was a clear view of the Burnside bridge leading to Old Town. Seeing the expanse of the river and downtown was breathtaking (but it also could’ve been the dead of winter air that was taking my breath away!).

Heading further into the trail, there is a dock that you can walk into the river on and get an unobstructed view of the city. There, I found amusing little graffiti anecdotes that make Portland the absurd city that I love.

I ended my walk across the promenade and ended up in the Pearl District area. Needing a pitstop and shelter from the cold I went for a Moroccan latte at Ovation Coffee & Tea, which had a front row view of the Fremont bridge. Later on, I grabbed a vegetarian burrito for dinner at the Laughing Planet Cafe, before heading back to catch my flight to Seattle that night.

Fremont Bridge

My overall view of the first time visiting Portland is that it is one of the friendliest places I have ever been. I feel like their city motto of “Keep Portland Weird” really resonates with its culture in that I never felt judged by the natives, and everyone I encountered was willing to engage in a friendly conversation. It was definitely a great start to my trip across the west coast.

All photos taken by me on my Canon 70D and iPhone 6.

Travel Diary: Portland - Day 3

January 13, 2016: On my 3rd day in Portland, I ventured towards the Nob Hill district after hearing about the eclectic shopping and sights to see.

For breakfast, I stopped in at Vivace and ordered a monstrous (seriously, it was the size of a dinner plate) savory crepe with spring greens, tomato, walnuts, feta, mozzarella, topped off with a creme pesto, while washing it down with a nice, hot mocha. It was a delicious hallelujah moment.

Upon finishing up my breakfast, I went to burn off my instant calorie load by exploring the neighborhood. Serendipity occurred when I randomly decided to turn a corner and stumbled upon a place on my “I like weird things” list to visit, The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium and Museum. It is a store with an assortment of peculiar odds and ends available for purchase with a museum attached. The museum is small but blanketed with all things strange on every corner, that to me was worth the $5 admission. It even has those Instagrammable photo ops where you can be an alien autopsy victim or stand next to their giant Bigfoot.

After my museum visit, I did a little shopping and found the street where Reverend Lovejoy was named after. I found Nob Hill to be quite a charming place to stroll through, with enough variation of vendors to keep just about anyone interested.

The retail therapy left me hankering for a little snack and I discovered the much lauded Salt & Straw shop was nearby. They are known for their unconventional ice cream flavors. I opted for the Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper and Pear with Blue Cheese. Somehow, they manage to get the flavors just right where the crazier concepts aren’t too overpowering and it’s this nice subtle blend of flavors that seem to just work together.

Eventually I headed back into town, but the infamous Portland rain had struck so I took shelter in a nearby mall. Even in a conventional mall, I found shops with interesting products like the coloring book that put the “adult” back into adult coloring book.

I ended the night at Killer Burger - where I got the Jose Mendoza, a 1/3 lb beef patty with bacon, roasted green chilies, jack cheese, house sauce, grilled onion, pickle, and a side of fries. It was the perfect heat up your insides on a chilly, winter night meal cap to an interesting day.

All photos taken by me on my Canon 70D and iPhone 6.

Travel Diary: Portland - Day 2

 January 13, 2016: My second day of the trip started at a place I’d heard many rave reviews about, Mother’s Bistro. I decided to try their special of the day - waffles with peach compote and whipped cream, a side of extra crispy bacon and coffee. While their service was amazing, I think I had hyped the food up too much in my mind and was a little underwhelmed. It was still good, but not outstanding, I’d still go back and try some of the other items though.

After breakfast, I walked my way through downtown - spotting incredible Art Deco buildings (my favorite art movement), little office messages constructed out of post-its, the cold and the creativity was invigorating. I ended up at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, mainly due to my love of vintage signs and typography. After many selfie and angles were taken, I made my way around more of the downtown area, heading towards Chinatown.

The downtown exploration lead to walks through Lownsdale Square, where I was stopped by a Canadian fellow asking if I was a photographer - ended up talking about what we were both doing in Portland and why (see how solo travel sparks many delightful, unexpected encounters). Following the chit chat I furthered my way towards Chinatown, my journey slowing every few seconds as I was bedazzled by the charming historic buildings and street art murals everywhere I turned.

I finally made it to Old Town Chinatown, I love to check out the different Chinatown’s to see what spin that city has put on it (and because it’s probably an impulse in my DNA being half Chinese). Again, the vibrant historic buildings did not disappoint for me, and also once again I was stopped and asked if I was a photographer. They asked where I was from, to which I replied I was visiting from Hawaii, and then got a remark I haven’t heard in a long time, (especially after they hear I’m from Hawaii) was that “I spoke good English”. They were nice, but I had a nice little chuckle to myself afterwards, and was a reminder that some people still think we wear grass skirts and live in tree houses in Hawaii (not kidding, actual questions that have been asked before).

My love for vintage lead me towards the iconic “White Stag” sign, where I took in the views of both sides of the river up on the bridge. The famous Voodoo Doughnuts was nearby, so it wasn’t a really difficult choice to stop in. Their doughnut names were hilarious, especially when you have to say what you want to the cashier, including some *ahem* phallic themed ones. I just got an oreo topped doughnut along with their classic voodoo doll one. Verdict: I think go to visit just to see it but the doughnuts were like regular doughnuts to me, just with interesting and amusing themes. While it was still a little early for dinner, I stopped off at a Stumptown Coffee nearby because when in Rome (or Portland for that matter). It definitely lived up to the hype and was the perfect little jolt I needed.

Finally it was dinner time and I decided to try Grassa, because they make their own pasta for a reasonable price, and I if I had to choose one meal for the rest of my life it would probably be a type of pasta. I decided to go with their truffle parmesan fettucine, and let’s just say this is me every time I think of it. Nothing short of divine! Following dinner, I decided to burn off some carbs with a little retail exercise (a.k.a. shopping) around town. The glow of the neon signs and leftover Christmas decorations was a magical ending to the night.

All photographs taken by my with a Canon 70D and iPhone 6.

Travel Diary: Portland - Day 1

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January 12, 2016: The first leg of my west coast trip started in Portland, Oregon. I had a short stopover in Salt Lake City, Utah at around 5.30am, which gave me nothing short of a glorious sunrise over the snowcapped mountains and rainbow tinted sky. My photos could not do justice to what I saw outside the airport windows.

Landing into a rain filled Portland, I made my way down to the TriMet ticket machine in the airport to purchase a day pass for all public transport systems. Don’t make the mistake I did and think that buying a 5 day pass meant that you could buy it for consecutive days - I had bought 5 passes for the same day. In the words of Homer Simpson, “doh!”. So my first half hour was trying to find other patrons to take my other tickets. What I do recommend is downloading the app on your phone where you can directly purchase an all day pass to all public transport systems for only $5.00 for unlimited rides! Meaning, you don’t have to find a ticket machine or carry around the pass with you.

I had some time to kill before my AirBnb was ready for the day, so I thought I’d explore a little of Portland. I didn’t really get too many great shots since that day was pouring winter rain, plus I was dragging around my roller carry on and backpack on top of that. A little tip, the Greyhound bus station has lockers for rent if you’re ever in a similar situation. Once my baggage was stored, I made my way around town - spotting awesome art, interesting solar panel sculptures, the Pendleton store, Flanders St (Portland has many streets that Simpson’s characters were named after), etc.

I eventually stopped off at the famous Powell’s Books for a little shelter and to grab a coffee and snack from their cafe. Oh man - was I in heaven! Coming from Hawaii, who are only starting on their coffee connoisseur quests and growing up in New Zealand where they take their coffee very seriously - I was so pleased to have real coffee again, all the while washing it down with a delectable almond croissant.

After resting up, my AirBnb was ready, a cozy little room in a shared house, in a quiet neighborhood near town. I dropped off my bags and peeled off my rain soaked clothes and got into something a little more snug as I would be mostly walking around in temperatures where it had just snowed a few days earlier. Being used to Hawaii’s heat, where we throw on a thick sweater and extra blanket when it hits 72°F (22°C), feeling the freezing temps through my rubber boots and having my hands literally frozen stiff was definitely an experience.

The neighborhood I was staying in had a huge murder of crows surrounding it, (I love that term, and since Hawaii nor New Zealand has crows I’m going to exploit it every chance I get) - I kept joking in my head as they were circling and cawing that they were ready to pick at my frozen carcass any time now while walking around. Those pictures of the crows that appear to be in black and white were not altered into grayscale at all and a perfect visual depiction of how chilly and chilling it was at the time.

I made my way back into town for dinner to try the much lauded Tasty n Alder, boy did it not disappoint! I had the grilled rosemary chicken with I believe a sweet potato and leek puree. I even ordered a grown up drink to go with it, a Moscow mule (I rarely imbibe as I am a grandma trapped in a young person’s body). I’m still kicking myself because I completely forgot to get their famous chocolate potato doughnut, which is the main reason I went! Next time, Portland, next time.

All in all, I had a great introduction to Portland and all the great things I had heard were very real. Tomorrow, Day 2 of Portland explorations!

All photos taken by me on my iPhone 6.