Portland is strange. No wonder that one of the most famous images of the city is this one:
But it is a “strange” that everyone flirts, an alternate spot after another.
OK, for starters, I need to share that I have one regret about our going to Portland. Apparently, the city is surrounded by nature and offers a lot of amazing trails options. Just take a peek on TripAdvisor’s list of the best things to do in town (here) to realize that the place is a full plate for nature lovers.
Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate with us and, on the day that separated to the waterfalls of the Columbia River, Saint Peter decided the city needed a bath. Result: we had to spend the day drinking beer and eating dough nuts.
This leads me to two of the best things that we discovered in Portland. Yes, beer and dough nuts. But I’m going to talk about them.
As we were in the city only three days, it’s hard to have to pretend to talk here everything the city has to cool to know. So, I decided to make my top 10. The idea is not that this post is a tourist itinerary in Portland, but it serves to sharpen your curiosity about the city.
- Washignton Park + International Rose Test Garden
The Washington Park is huge, beautiful to live and full of attractions. We had little time and opted to meet the International Rose Test Garden, a garden that serves to test new species of roses. I love roses because they remind me of my grandmother (which grew more fragrant Roses of all in the backyard of your House there in Scotland) and the garden reminded me of her a lot. The place is huge and beautiful, with roses from hundreds of different species, all colors and sizes, each with your scent. Valley walking calmly, feel the sweet smell of the garden and laugh with the names of each species (I swear that looks like the guy who gives name to the species of Roses is the same guy that gives its name to the glaze). Oh! And take a lot of photo!
- Dough Nuts (And Not Only Those Of Voodoo)
Well before thinking about going to Portland I’ve heard this Voodoo Doughnuts. It is through people who had already gone or through listings of what they do (or what not to do in the city), everybody talked about (good or bad) about this place. When in doubt, I decided to go see what was and form an opinion about the place.
It is worth mentioning that the Voodoo Doughnuts has two shops in Portland. The US was first (Yes, we were in two) was Downtown. I had read in a lot of places that it is virtually impossible not to face a line at Voodoo Doughnuts. Therefore, I never cease to amaze me with the dozen or so people who were there waiting to do the same thing as me. However, I must confess: waiting in that line was one of the most unpleasant trip.
As soon as I got in line, a man obviously drugged, approached me asking to use my cell phone. I obviously refused, and he left. More in front, a man more drugged still approached us to say something unintelligible while trying to balance not to fall. To make matters worse, the lady who was behind us in line, found it all very unusual and decided to take a picture of the guy-stoned-almost-falling on the floor. No, aunt. That’s not cool. The drug addict is not a tourist attraction.
That said, we made up for the 15 minutes it took to get to the beginning of the line and enter the store. OK, inside the place is pretty cool, especially for not being anything that is expected of a donut shop (I imagine a cute bakery). But the coolest are the unusual flavors. The most famous is the Maple Bacon Bar with caramel topping and slices of bacon on top. The dough is very good, soft and pretty hot and, oddly enough, the bacon helps a lot to break the caramel candy.
But the flavor that I recommend is the Old Dirty Bastard, with chocolate icing, Oreos and peanut butter. Serious. Sensational.
I know we enjoyed this thing eating doughnuts that I googled the best doughnut places in Portland. And I ran into this link here. And off we went to eat more.
As it was Sunday (and we’ve already eaten too), we ended up just going on Blue Star Doughnuts. The cool thing is that they have a store in Hawthorne, a super nice neighborhood to walk. We proved their version of the Maple Bacon Donut and I can talk to? Worth every calorie.
Jeez, I wrote too much. Next item.
- Kennedy School
The Mcmenamins is perhaps the most traditional brewery in Portland, but it’s been a while since they are much more than that. These guys are experts at finding old properties (often neglected) and turn them into bars, hotels, restaurants and even theaters full of personality.
But wrong who thinks they lay everything down and build everything new. On the contrary. The idea of the company is to preserve the history of each place places. The Kennedy School is a fine example.
A school in the Decade of 20 turned into hotel (restaurant, brewery, several bars, heated swimming pool, area for events and a film). But the coolest of all that is in there and figure out how the original space was tapped. The box office of the film, for example, is in an old classroom and drawings in chalk on the Blackboard in lieu of the paper posters of movies.
- Bagdad Theater
One of the coolest things and unusual of Portland are the cinemas. Portland has a lot of cinemas where you can sit back in a comfortable armchair (or even a couch) and a beer and pizza while you watch your movie.
We went on one of those “movie brew pubs” as they are called, theBagdad Theater, which is located in Hawthorne (that neighborhood I mentioned up there). The Baghdad is another gem of the Mcmenamins group and, even if you are not hungry (or seat) cinema is so beautiful that it’s worth a visit anyway.
- The Many Food Carts
Street food is a phenomenon of Portland. The three days we spent in Portland, 80% of our meals came out directly from food carts scattered all over town. Besides being options well cheaper than eating in a restaurant, the food that these mini trucks serve is absolutely wonderful.
Here’s the list of what we tasted and loved:
Bing Mi: Downtown and serves only one thing, a sort of crepe stuffed with vegetables and many spices. We asked to include sausage and was sensational.
Juniper: vegan, gluten free and full of flavor. We ordered the Samosa Bowl (the tomato chutney is great!).
Grilled Cheese Grill: the place itself is pretty cool. You place the order on the food cart and will eat right there on the side, a bus converted into a diner. If that wasn’t enough, the Cheesus was one of the best sandwiches I ever ate in my life. Just a burger in the middle of two cheeses. Don’t have what to say, just feel.
Carte Blanche: SENSATIONAL food. Serious. I never imagined that a food so good could come out of a cart. Eat the Crispy Rice Salad and the Mc & Cheese. Oh! And the dishes are huge, so you can share a good.
As I mentioned up there, Portland is famous for its many breweries.So much so that one of the nicknames of the city is Beer City. We made a point to go in some. Outside the Mcmenamins, who already spoke up there, I loved it especially the Rogue (which even has partnered with the Voodoo Doughnuts and developed a maple bacon vodka) and the 10 Barrel Brewing. One is right in front of the other, so you can start the night at first and finish on Monday.
- The POWELL’s BOOKS
The Powell’s is probably the biggest book store I’ve ever been in my life. A giant place, with rooms and more rooms of books to suit all tastes. You can spend hours and hours there, literally. They sell new and used books and has several bookshelves with books of the moment of their favorite store employees.
- Alberta District
A mega bairrinho charming. On the main street (the Alberta St) a lot of shops right maneirinhas, some coladinhas with the other. Thrift stores coexist with new designers, food carts with restaurants. Everything from the flip side of the other.
On the streets of inside, the houses give residential ares of inner city pro neighborhood. This time of year so the street is beautiful with the leaves falling and houses decorated for Halloween.
Valley enjoy the ride around the neighborhood to get ice cream in Salt & Straw. Another place with a line at the door, but it’s worth it. The flavors are so unusual as wonderful. If someone told me that one day I was going to get ice cream with PEAR gorgonzola I wouldn’t believe it. But I took and I thought great. If you don’t have taste buds so adventurous, need not worry. It also has traditional tastes equally delicious.
- Taylor Railworks
We’re in an economy mad, trying to spend as little as possible on the road to be able to make more trips. So we ate in a restaurant really nice during the three days we spent in Portland.
We found the Taylor Railworks by chance. In fact, we were on our way to another restaurant, but it was full and we were very hungry. Solution: Yelp to see what was around. And there was Taylor.
The restaurant is super charming. As far as modern, not too big nor too small. We arrive and ask exactly what the folks at Yelp had indicated: the best Octopus I’ve ever had in my life. Of truth.
- Vista House
The Vista House a little out of Portland (half an hour), but the place is absolutely beautiful. We went on Sunday and it was raining a lot. The wind was so strong it was shaking the car. But just googled the place to see how amazing it is. Entered on the list because it gave a lot of desire to get back on a beautiful day of sunshine.