We touched down in Portland after 12 hours of flying and an 8 hour layover due to flight delays. We had been in Korea, Canada & America; Seoul, Vancouver & Portland all within the same calendar day. Still, when we got to our hotel we had full intentions to go out & explore the city. We were going to take in a show, have some drinks & celebrate. Ermmm….that didn’t happen. Not at all. We arrived on a Monday night at 9 p.m. Everything was closed. Not only that, but we were fully exhausted. We showered, ordered a pizza & called it a night. Night one back in America = Domino’s delivery & Maury Povich.
The next day, we were determined to beat jet lag & fast. We stayed out & about & pumped full of coffee all day long. We only had one day to take in Portland so we hit the ground running. Here is how we spent 24 hours Portland:
1. Stumptown Coffee Roasters – For us, coffee is crucial. Especially considering these circumstances: sleepy, jet lagged & still acclimating to our surroundings. Yes, acclimating to our surroundings. Those first few hours of being surrounded by English were weird. We were more than a little awkward. People were so friendly. They would speak to us & offer us customer service, all in a language that we could understand. We were embarrassingly clumsy at dealing with this. Coffee helped. Stumptown is famous for their hip coffee shops & 5 locations in Portland alone. We were impressed enough with the quality & price of the coffee, as well as the awesome customer service, that we visited their other shop in Old Town later that day.
2. Food Pods at 10th & Alder – This is a must do when visiting Portland. The city is famous for their food pods full of creative fusion dishes. There was so much to choose from & unfortunately we just weren’t hungry enough at this point to explore as much as we would have liked. We did grab some awesome grilled cheese sandwiches from The Grilled Cheese Grill. More about that in my next post.
3. Powell’s Books – This is a chain of book stores claiming to be the largest independent new & used bookstore in the world. Visit the flagship store between 10th & 11th Ave. that has over 1 million books. To make a Singapore reference, it’s the Mustafa’s of bookstores. Once inside, you’ll see rows & rows of bookshelves wrapping around each corner that go on & on. Each time you turn a corner there is a new nook of shelves or stairs leading to more & more books. I could picture Belle from “Beauty & the Beast” swinging on ladders inside & singing something Disney-esque about how much she likes the smell of books. This bookstore is definitely worth a walk through.
4. Pearl District – We walked through the Pearl District on our way to the Waterfront. This area houses Powell’s books & Deschutes Brewery (next on the list). This is a swanky, urban chic neighborhood with high rise condos surrounded by restored buildings & squeaky clean sidewalks. If you are seeking a man in a handlebar mustache dressed like it’s 1932 selling artisanal handcrafted aromatic bitters, this is where you’ll find it.
5. Waterfront Park – Following the Pearl District we wandered to the Waterfront Park. Here you can find of trains crossing bridges, locals going for an afternoon jog, cyclists riding along the waterfront path & rows upon rows of cherry blossom trees. The trees were not in bloom for our visit of course, since we were at the tail end of winter. But even bare they were beautiful to see. We took a walk through the park until we reached Old Town.
6. Old Town – This neighborhood is slightly grungy. And I do mean slightly. Keep in mind, Portland was squeaky clean. But in Old Town, we saw some cool wall murals, more bars than we had seen elsewhere & just overall, a more artistic looking scene. There were cool donut shops, specifically Voodoo Donuts, bars with picnic tables & globe lights outside & most importantly, more coffee shops. We hung out at the Stumptown on this side of town for a while & people watched. Had we more time, this is an area we would catch some night life in.
7. Deschutes Brewery – Portland cannot & must not be done without visiting a local brewery. Even for me, & I’m not much of a drinker, especially when it comes to beer. Still, I knew we had to stop by for a Happy Hour drink & Mr. FGK loves a good beer. So we went to Deschutes where Mr. FGK got the flight & I had a cider. Here is where the jet lag kicked in. At one point Mr. FGK left to go to the bathroom. While he was gone I apparently fell asleep, head first into the table, drool and all. The server came over to check on me. Still too awkward to effectively communicate with other English speakers, I sort of smiled & fell back asleep. We were losing steam & alcohol isn’t known for keeping people awake. We had our beers & pressed on.
9. Hawthorne District – We capped off the day by exploring the Hawthorne District. This was definitely our favorite area of the city & also the point in the day when we had become exhausted, cold & beat with walking around. It’s unfortunate since we both would have liked to have done & seen more in this area. We did spend a good 2 hours eating & walking around. We probably spent an hour of that time jaw dropping at American grocery stores. The amount of selection, price variation & quality of merchandise were something we had not seen in years. And mind you, Korea ain’t shabby, but still ‘murica’s got a lot. The Hawthorne area was full of thrift stores, boutiques, record stores & cool looking restaurants. We ate at El Cubo De Cuba. This was especially nice since our meals were full of flavors we hadn’t experienced in a while.
The next day, we rented a car & headed off to see more of the West Coast…