December 30, 2018
Let’s get weird!
Justin and I, plus one of my best college friends, visited Portland in September. But I have not been great this year at keeping up to date with my posts, so you’ll have to bear with me as I attempt to recall what we did during our trip. The impetus for the trip was to see friends, relax, and enjoy the weekend, so we didn’t have much of an agenda. The reason we chose Portland was because, in the words of Zoolander, it’s so hot right now; it has a reputation as one of the hippest cities in the West, and we needed to see if this reputation was deserved. We spent the weekend on high alert for signs of hipsters, artisanal everything, and plaid, and we were not disappointed.
We kicked things off right by communing sole-fully with the famous PDX carpet:
If you aren’t familiar with the glorious history of the PDX airport carpet, be sure to check it out on Wikipedia. Yes, that’s right: this carpet has its own Wikipedia page.
Our next stop, after admiring that PDX has its own miniature movie theater inside the terminal showing short films about Portland, was dinner at Bollywood Theater (an extremely hip restaurant), which was followed by ice cream at Salt & Straw. We thought at that point we might die from the sheer amount of Portland we witnessed just that evening. But we survived and carried on.
Friday, our first full day, we followed a walking path of my own designing through downtown. We visited, in no particular order: Blue Star Donuts - pretty good but not life changing; the Lan Su Chinese Garden - delightful and refreshing; Powell’s City of Books - overwhelming, in a good way; the Portland Building by Michael Graves - under renovation, sadly; the outside of the Portland Museum of Art; and Mill Ends Park - tiny but exquisite. Mill Ends was by far the best tiny park I have ever visited. We also rode the MAX light rail, because, well, that’s just the sort of thing we do for fun. Public transit = priorities.
Saturday we met up with additional friends and visited the Sabin HydroPark, then checked out the International Rose Test Garden, which includes all the roses. All of them. We set ourselves a scavenger hunt to find random roses within the garden, including “Sriracha” and others of equally ridiculous names, but our enjoyment was cut a bit short by rain. In the evening we had dessert at the Rimsky-Korsakoffee House, which was purely delightful. I enjoyed the online description of the place as “casually threatening,” and the dark, red interiors lived up to the name. The live classical piano music was fun, and the bathroom is a must-see. The desserts were also excellent! We shared a chocolate mousse, a ginger cake, a raspberry fool, and one other thing I can’t remember, and everything was good.
Sunday we visited the Portland Saturday Market (despite the name) and Cacao, a hip chocolate place. The hot chocolate we tried - in three flavors - was good, but I still stand by Dandelion in SF as the best hot chocolate I’ve had.
Other memorable restaurants included Tasty & Sons, which was tasty but maybe not worth an hour-long wait; PokPokNOI, which was adventurous even for us, and both good and very spicy; and Random Order Pie Bar, a pie place that was, alas, arbitrary in the quality of its pies. One might say that the pies were desultory, or perhaps aleatoric. But not very good, in any case.
All in all, I enjoyed the trip, and can now attest that Portland is, in fact, very Portland. During the weekend it rained a few times, but not enough to dampen our spirits much or prevent us from continuing on our adventures. I did miss out on getting to visit Forest Park, which looks like the filming location for the TV show “Grimm,” a show that I much enjoyed; on getting to ride the tram; and on seeing the Weather Machine at Pioneer Courthouse Square work its magic. There was an event in the square which prevented us from seeing much of it, and besides, we didn’t arrive in time that day to witness the machine at work. But that simply means we will have to come back another time.
Thanks, Portland. It’s been weird.