28.08.2013 - 31.08.2013 28 °C
We were staying in a hostel here, the HI, spread over a few typical Portland-esque properties in NW which is a really nice area. Mainly because all air bnbs were out of our price range! We had a private room and it was pretty good.
Portland has an insane amount of microbreweries, such a huge pub culture (nowhere else in America says 'pub'), as well as a massive arts and music scene... we were bound to love it. The weather was glorious for our time here, often too hot to keep walking... So, a little refresher was necessary along the way.
On our first day we only managed to gorge on lunchtime sushi, wander across an outdoor live music show on Main St and then fell asleep for hours, catching up from bus drama. Later that night we took a trip to a few local breweries, finishing at the Blue Moon on 23rd in the NW district. Other areas on our agenda were Burnside, Alberta, Mississippi, Pearl and Hawthorne. Portland is our secret highlight, we've both never been, so allowed 4 days here, and are dying to see what the fuss is about.
Our second day happened to fall on the last Thursday of the month... So as per London's First Thursday gallery openings, Portland puts on their version - Last Thursday. (They also have a First Thursday and a First Friday - London take note!) A really good, free, weekly local paper called The Mercury listed all the cultural and trendy goings on, and it puts London to shame... There's SO much happening and it's half the size of our capital!
Last Thursday Portland turned out to be nothing like the ducking in and out of East London's galleries; instead we discovered 15 blocks of Alberta Street were made a pedestrian, colourful, vibrant street fair of art, food, music and kooky shit. Artists, actors, designers, poets, healers, musicians, children, adults filled the street and by 6pm it was HEAVING. In England, something of this effort and community participation would happen once a year perhaps, or on a huge occasion like the jubilee; sorry for the London bashing, but the comparison is startling.
We did our rounds and then obviously set to discover the great breweries, dive and live music bars of the area (of which there are plenty...) and our first encounter with those who definitely deserve the affectionate 'Keep Portland Weird' tag. This topped by a greying eccentric, resembling Iggy Pop; who took his Hawaiian shirt off, put on magnifying glasses and a torch head light, which he switched on for the sole purpose of threading a needle on the bus, in the dark, to repair a button on his Hawaiian shirt. Michael asked for a photo, to which he was baffled, and said he'd prefer not. "People got to repair more things these days". He buttoned his freshly fixed shirt up, and hopped off at his stop.
Safe to say the next morning was a late one, and the day consisted of a trip across the river to Burnside skatepark, all the sight spots, and an amazing, cheap lunch at Little Big Burger which finished us off entirely. Later we tried the tasty food at the street fest Cartopia and discovered the SE & Hawthorne area.
Portland is big on hippies and vegans, so with Michael being vegetarian and myself trying (but often failing) to live a clean living wholesome diet, we set out to discover the best veggie spots in town. We found the best were in the super trendy area on Stark, and the food we had was incredible! Canteen was our favourite. As you can imagine, from there we just had to scope out a few more of the breweries in the area... Portland is crazy on ale. Each brewery or pub offers small samplers for $1 which is a great way of discovering the many, many beers on draught. We tried dark, roasty, chocolatey stouts; golden, hoppy locals; fruity, light pales along the way . Michael chose his beers mostly based on the cool name/logo.
Our last day saw a trip to the most beautiful, sprawling rose gardens, set up on a hill overlooking the city and Chiara literally had to be dragged away. It was enchanting. Portland is nicknamed the City of Roses and after seeing these gardens in person, you can understand. The trees surrounding the park were so tall, and the Japanese gardens so well kept, the whole experience is cool and calming, from the moment you step into the forest and the sun can barely peek through the high pines.
We could have stayed a while longer, the Portlandia lifestyle suited us very nicely.