Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Portland's good life

I'd heard and read enough about Portland for it to be on my radar - the great cafe culture, it's laidback-ness and the music (music friends of mine told me lots of good music has been coming from there recently).  In fact, one of the pluses about moving to Vancouver was the possibility for weekend trips to Portland (in the end of course, I'd done so much travelling around Canada, by the time I was in Vancouver, it had to mostly be about working and saving - and it's still a good 5 hours away!). Anyway, I was looking forward to checking it out.

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I couchsurfed in the Alberta district. I arrived on a beautiful sunshiney day on Alberta Street, met Ted, my host, and went for lunch at La Bonita - he recommended their burritos (seems to me to be lots of amazing Mexican places for food in the US as I keep getting recommendations for them... not that I mind, they're usually right!).  We talked about travel and life in Portland and London. I was only there for a couple of days and Ted and his lovely housemates gave me the best introduction to life in Portland. It has a very similar feel and look to Vancouver - you've got the chilled West Coast vibe and high regard for the great outdoors as well as for a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.  I can totally see why this small city appeals to so many people (I'm sure I read somewhere how Portland was becoming a popular place for people to move to but I can't find it now).  Portland worked out fabulously for them because they could live the life they wanted really easily - finding good local produce for instance (I was especially impressed with their beer selection - who knew Portland had so many great breweries)! Their neighbourhood is beautiful and there's plenty to keep them entertained with some great restaurants, bars, cafes (of course!) and shops.  Lots of neighbourhoods have weekly or monthly street parties which sounded like fun (such a shame I wasn't there for one).  You don't need to stray too far away to be in awe of nature and they had the opportunity and space to pursue things they cared about.  I've always seen myself as a big city girl - I love how busy and full big city life can be. I'm also drawn more to cities that are messier/grimier (in all sorts of ways) but seeing a little of my host's world did make me appreciate how lovely it must be to thoroughly enjoy life when there is no messy.  I wasn't able to catch any live music - tho' Ted and his housemates have an awesome record collection.  However, I can confirm that there are some excellent cafes to sit and while away a few hours in. I also learnt about biodynamic raisins, sauna'd in the backyard and that Portland really is super laidback :o)

Favourite cafe - Townshends Tea House (I'm sure they have amazing tea but I tried and loved their Coconut Mate Latte).  The cafe in Powell's bookshop (which is a must visit for any book lover anyway) is a close second purely because you could browse for books and then bring a few in to the cafe to read in case you might like to buy them.
Favourite stroll - by the river to admire Portland's bridges.
Favourite beer - Rogue's hazelnut brown nectar (and Portland has some great beers)

Bridge and blossom spotting along the river
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America's Bill of Rights
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And back on the train again and for my first overnight on the Amtrak
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