I’m walking to the train station and that area has some bus stops, but also seems to be a popular place to hang out, especially if you have no place to be. One man comments on my backpack and says I must have been everywhere, big smile on his face. He shouts something to his mate further on and as I pass him I hear him: “It’s like in a movie man. The light shining on your face. Hair blowing in the wind. It is perfect man.” I can’t help but laugh. Goodbye Portland.
You travel to a city, grab a guidebook, look online for some inspiration. Then you make a list of the sights and start exploring. But what if the things to see are a bookshop, a donut store and a bunch of breweries? Portland is still a bit of a mystery to me. I loved my time here, but íf you ask me what to do, I wouldn’t know what to tell you. To me Portland was all about the people.
It’s the perfect place to explore on a trip with your girlfriends, partner or family. But alone? I was glad the hostel I stayed at organized some nights out, which made it super easy to connect to people. At the ‘kitchen connect’ I wasn’t very lucky. The hostel organized a dinner, but it was mac & cheese. So there I sat sipping my tea in the cheesy smell thinking about what then to eat. It was all a bit awkward and some people were really just there to eat and be gone. After dinner a few of us were hanging around though and decided to check out Kelly’s Olympian, a bar that often also has bands playing. So I could eat, have a drink and see a couple of bands. Not bad.
In my days in Portland I walked and walked around town. I walked along the riverfront to the aerial tram. It is a way for people to get up to the hospital on the hill, but also a good way to get a birds eye view of the city. I was really surprised by how good the view was. I did visit the bookshop Powells, but it was almost too big to just browse. Besides, when you cannot buy anything it’s no fun at all. The same goes for all the cute little boutiques that sell amazing and original gifts and clothing I couldn’t buy. I also stood in line for the famous Voodoo donuts. They’ve got funky flavours like bubble gum or something with peanut butter. There’s even a special Portland donut. On a rainy day there are a few movie theaters to go to and my first day I found myself in the Living room. A movie was only $5, but they weren’t the latest ones.
For some outdoorsy activities you can go to one of the many parks. There is a pretty cool view from the Rose garden, but I really like the forest park. Forest park is more forest than park. It is walking distance from the HI hostel I was staying at and seems to have endless walking trails. For me it was just a morning walk and I walked to this old house, covered in graffiti. It was a bit spooky and random, but really refreshing to be in such a natural place in the middle of a big city. On another day I went to Multnomah falls with some guys from the hostel. It was really by chance, because we just started driving. Somehow we stumbled upon the tallest waterfall in Oregon. We arrived late in the day and had to hurry up the path to the top. When we finally got there it was getting quite dark under the trees and after a few photos we hurried back down.
At night Portland hangs out in one of many breweries and pubs. I explored some on a brewery tour. I played darts in a massive dining hall style brewery, couldn’t figure out which toilet was the ladies in a diner style brewery, and listened to the juke box in another. On my last night in Portland the hostel had organized to go to a Soul Night. I should have known it was only soul music. Only a few people showed up and they were all guys. It was a looong bus ride across the river to get to Goodfoot pub and lounge and the guys played some pool to get the courage to dance. Although that courage might have come from the drinks. When it got a bit busier we entered the dancefloor downstairs. I didn’t know any of the songs! At the end of the night I may have recognised about 10. It was a bit strange to get started, but it turned out to be so much fun! We actually danced until the last song finished.
There is a wall in Portland saying ‘Keep Portland weird’. That pretty much sums it up.