We went to Portland last weekend. Why? To play. Why? Because it’s a great city. Why? Because it’s cooler than Seattle.
Whoa! Did I just totally diss our sister to the North? Yes I did. Allow me to explain…
Portland is the city of beards of beers. Which actually makes my fondness rather peculiar as I neither sport a beard (ahem, though this over-40 chin seems to want to think differently at times. What’s up with that?!) nor am I a beer drinker.
It’s also the home of Powell’s Books. Did the sky just grow a little lighter? I think I heard angels singing. That always happens to me when I think about Powell’s. A full city block of wonder. I could live there. Truly. Honestly. Though I do wish people would treat it more like a library than a bar (voices, people! voices!). It is a sacred place.
Where was I? That’s right…I was telling you why Portland is cooler than Seattle. Endearing myself to the local masses. I like how you can very easily walk from unique neighborhood to unique neighborhood in Portland. Within just a few minutes you can drop out of the Alphabet District into the Pearl and from there to Downtown. All of them are filled with some pretty amazing restaurants and bars (Seattle has a fair number, but I really think Portland blows them away, overall, in great food and drink). If you get tired of walking? Hop on the Max or the Streetcar. Seattle? Yeah, I know…you got nothin’ in the downtown corridor. Unless I want to wait for the bus. Or call Uber.
Portland also makes relatively laid-back Seattle feel positively uptight. I don’t know what it is. The beards? The beer? The weed? I mean, Seattle has the weed, too. So, it must be the beards and the beer.
Wait…wait…I have one gripe to lodge about Portland. We go down pretty much annually, in either January or February. And every single year….it rains. I seem to spend my weekends in Portland in a state of perpetual dampness. Because, undeterred by the weather, we slip on our raincoats, put up our hoods and slog around the streets exploring the delights of the city. Until I get too cold. Then we find a warm restaurant or bar.
Now, I understand…this is the great Pacific Northwest. And it rains a lot. Particularly this time of year. But, there are also times when the sun will blaze for a day or two in January or February (for real. I’m not making this up). In fact….today it’s supposed to be 47 and partly sunny here at The Homestead. And….the same in Portland. Well, crap. We should have gone this weekend.
But, last weekend was the long weekend. And this weekend isn’t. We arrived late Saturday morning at our lodging of choice, the Inn at Northrup Station (I did a semi-sorta review last year, with photos. Check that out here). Situated right on the streetcar line in the Alphabet District, this eclectic little boutique hotel is a favorite of ours. Awash with lime green, shocking pink and bright purple, the rooms are large (they include full kitchens) and comfortable, if electrically colored.
We dropped our car and headed up the street to a favorite gastropub for lunch. I’ve never had a soup or hot toddy from The Fireside that I didn’t like. It’s also one of the few places where I prefer to sit at the bar rather than a table. The large, u-shaped wooden bar allows for elbow room and good people watching. I was a little leery of the soup-of-the-day (smoked salmon chowder) as I’m not a fan of salmon, but I am a fan of their soup, so I paired a bowl of it with a toasted cheese sandwich…and a hot toddy comprised of local gin and some sort of local piney liquor. I think. I don’t know. It had a pine branch on the bottle. And the drink was amazing. As was the soup and cheese sandwich.
Satiated, we hopped on the streetcar and headed to Powell’s. You heard that, right? The angels…
I found a few books. Picked up and put down a couple of books on photography that I wanted but wasn’t quite willing to pay the price for. Wandered the aisles. Wandered the floors. Wandered…wandered.
The husband found nothing. Which stresses me out. How can you enter a bookstore the size of a city block and after two hours say, “Meh…I didn’t find anything”???? Obviously, we’re related by marriage and not by blood.
Are you beginning to wonder if I intend to engage in an exhaustive description of our every move? No worries. I am going to occasionally fast forward…like right now.
After Powell’s we headed back to the room, walking most of the way back because…hold on, Seattle-ites, I’m going to diss Portland…there’s a problem with the streetcar system. It runs through each stop about every 15 minutes. Which is fine if your destination is 30 or more minutes away. But, we can walk from Powell’s to the Inn at Northrup Station in about 20 minutes. So, if we get to the streetcar stop just after it’s left and see that another isn’t arriving for 14 minutes…follow my drift? We start walking. If it catches up to us, we hop on. If we don’t…well, we get back to the room sooner. But wetter.
That evening we tried a new restaurant, which I can’t remember the name of. But, it was cool and I had the most amazing cauliflower risotto. Uh-maze-ing. After dinner we wandered around the corner to the Teardrop Lounge, a place I had been wanting to check out for a while now. It was small. And dark. And kind of cool. And dark. And the drinks were expensive and very, very boozy (not necessarily in a good way). And we may be too old for the Teardrop Lounge.
The next day we headed back to Powell’s. As we were checking out the husband heard someone mention that the very next day Powell’s was having their annual Friends & Family sale. 30% off almost everything in the store. WHUH?!!!! I could find no mention of the 2017 sale online, so we had to go investigate.
It was true!!!! Full angelic orchestra! I bought my photography books and some other stuff.
We headed back to the hotel, again walking ahead of the streetcar, with a huge deviation that landed us down along the river. It was one of the few opportunities I had over the weekend to take photos with the DSLR as I chose not to carry it in the rain most of the time we were out. We walked and walked and walked, until a train finally turned us back to our room.
Late in the afternoon we took in a jazz concert, followed by happy hour at a delightful little place called Swine Moonshine and Whiskey Bar. All I have to say about that is…oink.
The walking and cocktail-ing of the last two days finally caught up with us that evening and we, the last of the partiers, were back in the room by 7 watching a movie on HBO (Tarzan…not a bad flick).
Monday was a relatively quiet morning with a big impact. We stopped by Pro Photo Supply and I picked up a new lens (which I am TOTALLY downplaying as I am going to tell you about that in a separate entry). I slogged through the rain to Kitchen Kaboodle, because I love that store and can’t go to Portland without visiting.
On our way out of town we drifted over to the Columbia Outlet store on the other side of the river and picked up some amazing deals on light, wicking clothing for our upcoming trip to Costa Rica. Then we made our way home. To our large orange cat. Who was very happy to see us.
And a good time was had by all.
P.S. The quality of some of these photos sucks. Did a lot with my crappy old iPhone. Sorry about that.
2 thoughts on “To Portland, with love…”
Loved this post, LaNae! I think it rains everywhere in February! My cousin lives in Tigard and took us to Powells a few years ago. We flew for the trip, so not too many books. We also stopped at Voodoo donuts (I made my two last several days, lol). Portland is a wonderful city. We need to visit more often.
Thanks, Terri! It is a great city. I’ve actually not been to Voodoo…unwilling to stand in those lines for a donut. 😉
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