Portland, March 2015

I swear I’ve already written at least part of this post at some previous time, but it seems like WordPress has recently gone through some updates, and my draft has disappeared into the nether! I’m a bit upset, but I suppose I can’t be toooo much so, since that’s probably what I get for taking so long to get this post out >_>

Anyways. As of today, this post is officially over one year overdue. I know, I suck at being consistent at things. Hopefully I still remember what we actually did (although the names of some of the places we went to are long gone by now) so I can give a decent account of what we did on our Portland trip!

Note: Watching Portlandia to prepare for a Portland trip is arguably not a great idea. We were very confused (even knowing that the show’s nature is somewhat satirical..)

Day 1

Okay, technically this wasn’t day 1. On the official day 1, we flew into Portland (after our flight got delayed by several hours and we called the rental car office in PDX to make sure they weren’t going to close for the day before we were able to get our car) checked into our Airbnb, and spent the rest of the night playing pinball at Apex Bar.

The next morning, we got up bright and early to stand in a 1.5 hour line for Screen Door, one of the most highly rated brunch places in Portland. Brian and I aren’t really standing in line people, so this decision is a bit surprising in hindsight. Did I think it was worth it? At the time, according to the caption on the Instagram pic I posted, apparently so. Now, maybe I might have enjoyed my extra 1.5 hours walking around Portland more. Who knows! I can attest, however, that the food tasted as good as it looks 😉

screen door.JPG

After brunch, we trekked out to the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. Portland apparently has quite a few aviation museums, so I’m not sure how we stumbled upon this particular one, but oh MAN it was so cool! Brian loves geeking out about old cars, and I’m just an equal opportunity geek when it comes to relics, so we had an amazing time wandering around the (rather extensive) collection of vehicles and parts, and learning about the history of aircraft engine design and cross-country motorcycle racing. the WAAAM is about a 1.5 hour drive east of Portland, but it’s so worth it – a) the museum is fascinating, and b) the entire drive is along the Columbia River, so it’s suuuuper scenic. If we had more time, I think it would have been fun to stop at Cascade Locks or some of the waterfalls along the way ( we sufficed by pointing at them from the car ).

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Mount Hood! 

The last pic in the gallery below is a map the museum had of where all its visitors originated from! Apparently people in the middle of America either don’t travel much, or don’t care about this type of thing.

On our way back from WAAAM, we stopped at The Observatory for a happy hour dinner. Coming from San Francisco, Portland is already super cheap as it is, so hitting up a happy hour just makes the deal sweeter! Needless to say, we ordered way more food than was necessary, but everything was pretty yummy.

Our last planned stop on Day 1 was Powell’s City of Books. I love bookstores, and could easily have spent the entirety of our 3 day trip at Powell’s, lost among its shelves. But we were on a mission: since we had forgotten we were going to Portland until literally the week before, all of the brewery tours were either fully booked or out of our price range! So we decided to ghetto-rig our own by buying a book about beer, and reading it at a brewery. Close enough, right?

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Books about beer

We may have gone to Ground Kontrol after this; I can’t really remember. All I do remember is that we pretty much spent every night at either Ground Kontrol or Apex, playing pinball. I was a girl obsessed. At 25 cents a game and with cheap beer flowing loose, how could I not??

Since we had dinner so early, Brian was of course starving by the time we wrapped up at the arcade, which afforded us the awesome opportunity to discover a local sandwich shop: Devil’s Dill Sandwiches. Not only was the food very very good, one of its walls was covered in sharpie drawings from its patrons!

Sandwich Shop Wall

Day 2

Thank the sweet baby Jesus for whomever recommended we go to Blue Star Donuts. Neither Brian nor I particularly like donuts, and even we were in heaven. If you’re planning on being a tourist in Portland, I implore you, skip Voodoo, and come here instead. We went to Voodoo Doughnut later in our trip, for science, and it was so underwhelming! I don’t understand at all why anyone would tell you to go there – it’s just a typical mediocre coffee shop doughnut, albeit some with cereal on top (and wtf, who wants that anyways).

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Donuts for breakfast were definitely not enough, so we decided to check out Portland’s famed food truck lots. I had heard so many great things about Nong’s Khao Man Gai that I was determined to hunt it down.

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look at that succulent chicken!

I was definitely not disappointed. I’m not usually a chicken and rice kinda gal, but I still daydream about that dish from time to time. Brian got a platter of mediterranean food, and he was definitely jealous 😉

With our bellies full, we made our way to Pittock Mansion.

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The mansion I believe is set up in a preserved state of what it looked like when it was inhabited, which is super interesting because who knew you could have inter-house intercoms in the 1910s??

Also, what is that creepy serial-killer shower?? It was supposed to be a super advanced shower that washes you on all sides, but I swear the rust stains looked like dried blood.

The other great thing about Pittock Mansion is that it boasts an incredible view over the city from its backyard, and we were lucky enough to have gone on a clear day!

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In every town we visit, I feel like Brian and I always go on a hunt for boba. Portland was not an exception, and in our hunt, we stumbled on an entire neighborhood that looked like bizarro San Francisco! I was so tripped out – the street looked just like Hayes Valley or Valencia, and if you turned off into the suburbs, you were greeted by rows upon rows of colorful Victorians. There was even a street named Kearn(e)y nearby.

Clutching our bobas, we wandered though all the cute little shops and gawked at the ridiculous crowd inside Salt & Straw ( we didn’t go in, since we’d already been to the one in LA ).

Finally, it was time for our self-made beer tour. I don’t remember exactly where we started (some place downtown that had a happy hour, and was close-ish to an indoor mall), but I do know we ended up at Deschutes!

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We got their beer flight, and discovered that, not only do I actually enjoy porters, but there is actually an IPA I can tolerate as well!

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Deschutes porter in the middle. So delicious!

If I’m not mistaken, after this we might actually have gone back to Powell’s books. I guess as spontaneous as Brian and I try to be, we really still are creatures of habit!

Day 3

Our original plan to start off Day 3 was to hit up 8:30am brunch at Tasty n Sons. After the ridiculous wait at Screen Door though, we ended up deciding to skip another potentially hour-long wait. I have heard so many amazing things about Tasty n Sons after the fact that I thoroughly regret this decision, and in retrospect, since it was a Tuesday, there probably would have been no wait. 😦 oh well! So we started off our day with the submarine tour at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry instead.

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IT WAS SO COOL! Again, Brian and I spent the entire time being huge geeks and examining all of the equipment. The tour guide (pictured above) was great about explaining what everything was for, and what living life on a sub such as this one would have been like.

On our way back into Downtown Portland, Brian and I chanced upon an interesting looking store called Guardian Games. We HAD to stop, and HOLY SHIT we were in nerd heaven! The walls were stacked with more tabletop games than we could imagine, with one side dedicated to board games and the other to miniatures. There was also a back area where we were told, regular events and competitions were held, and where anyone could bring their game to play if an event wasn’t ongoing. It was so hard not to buy everything we touched!

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While we were there, it just so happened that a group of guys were starting up a game of Star Wars Miniatures, and being the huge Star Wars fans that we are, we had to watch. The guys were so nice, and ended up lending us some of their miniatures and teaching us how to play! Brian whooped me, and to date, it’s been the only tabletop game he’s ever beaten me at 😦

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Day 3 was supposed to be our walking tour of Portland, but we found out last minute that the tour we had planned to check out was canceled. So of course, we did our own, by walking around Downtown and googling the various buildings. We ended up deciding to walk to Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and since we were already there at that point, we said ‘why the heck not’, and walked all the way around the river.

Each of the bridges were adorned with a sign that described the history of the bridge and its construction, so the walk was not only gorgeous, but also educational! We ended the tour with a late lunch at Veritable Quandary, where I cried with happiness at the delectability of every dish.

There’s a couple hours missing in here where I don’t quite remember what we did. To take a wild stab in the dark, I think we walked through Pearl District, and made the Voodoo stop that I mentioned earlier? I have pictures of the Lan Su Chinese Garden on my phone (taken creepily through the window, since we didn’t have time to actually go in), and distinctly remember at some point, a hobo accosting us and demanding to have a doughnut. We then stopped in at a random bar in Pearl District, and had a pre-dinner drink that was neither disappointing nor particularly memorable. And then we went to Uptown Billards Club!

Unfortunately I don’t have any great pictures of our meal, since my mirrorless camera’s battery had died by this point, and in my infinite wisdom I neglected to pack the charger 😦 But believe me when I say that it was an incredible meal. I honestly wasn’t expecting much when we made the reservation, since the dinner price for the pri-fixe menu was only $36, and typically you get what you pay for.. but man was I wrong. I guess in San Francisco you can’t get a good tasting menu without paying at least double that price, but in Portland you absolutely can!

I’ll just list some of the dishes, and you can use the best of your imagination. Carrot, Leek and Foie Gras Terrine. Soy-Marinated Seared Skate floating in a cloud of carrot-coconut foam. Rainbow Carrot-braised Rabbit with crispy polenta and white cheddar. Carrot Cake Beignets with coconut frosting drizzle and carrot and lime sorbet. ( The theme was carrot, in case it’s not obvious ) Now take whatever you imagined, and make it about 3 times better. Yup.

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For a spontaneously planned trip that started out as “Hey, Virgin America is having a sale, and tickets to Portland are dirt cheap, lets just go!” we had way better of a time than I could ever have imagined. I fell in love with Portland ( an affair which carries on to this day ) and we could definitely imagine ourselves settling down there someday. I actually got the chance to go back there for work just earlier this week (which is partially why I finally worked up the motivation to write this post) and I can definitely say – even though it was storming the entire time I was there this week, my love for Portland has not degraded a bit. It’s a fantastically charming city, and I cannot wait for our next trip there.

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