So this post will be a brief recap on what I nommed and what I saw in Portland, but please give me a moment to tell you about my dear friend Javan, as I don't think Portland would have been the same without him.
We'd only met once in person before this trip, back in 2009, but have been friends for longer than that and is someone I hold quite dearly in my heart. Honestly, if I had not been on the trip with him, Brad probably would have skipped Portland completely and maybe taken the time to visit Canada instead. But because I was there, I knew I had to make a social stop in Portland to hang out with this crazy kid.
He was a great guide, providing us history, cultural references, naming every single Portland beer (just about), giving plenty of squeezy bear hugs (just to me, maybe not for Brad), making me show him the hauls of goodies I bought from Buffalo Exchange and participating in fairly intellectual conversation with Brad (walking in on them doing this, warmed my heart much more than I could have ever expected).
Also did I mention he's had training to be a masseur too? Best shoulder rubs I've had in ages.
We got into Portland after a ridiculously early start, since our flight was at about 9am from San Francisco. But this meant we got in just around lunchtime and so pretty much had the full day to explore.
Although, I kind of didn't want to leave the house we were staying in through AirBnB. It was beautiful.
But we did eventually get out, and I enjoyed the leafy suburbs, the timber homes (that kind of made me feel like I should be in a forest somewhere), and the surprisingly immense number of churches everywhere that Javan kept pointing out to us (for a mostly atheist population it seems kind of surprising).
I loved the little shops that would just sort of pop out of nowhere, and the totally random ones Javan would point out (like a custom lightbulb store...as you do).
Truffles fries and baby sized cheeseburgers from Little Big Burger, were a delicious and not too heavy lunch (and only around $14 for Brad and I).
Here is a pole with tiny bikes chained to it.
I also ate quite a lot of sweets, which often required lines.
A Voodoo Doughnut, surprisingly didn't kill me, although I probably couldn't do two. This was the Old Dirty Bastard with oreos, chocolate frosting and peanut butter. Swoon.
Sea salt and caramel ribbon ice-cream was worth waiting for at 9:45pm.
This is apparently actually designated 'park' area. Righto.
I wanted to live in Powell's. It is called 'The City of Books' for a reason.
I also went crazy in the two Buffalo Exchange stores in Portland. Second hand clothing, but so much better than anywhere in Australia. $25 Jil Sander dress, $17 cashmere jumper, $26 Miss Sixty trench coat. Surely this is heaven?
As I pillaged through Buffalo Exchange, the boys would drink, pay shuffleboard and talk in many different bars, which I would join them at later.
At Tugboat we played Jenga (and I had a very nice apple cider)
We drank at Backstage Bar, an old converted theatre.
And in the boiler room of an old high school. The whole of McMenamins Kennedy School is worth visiting just to see what they've done to the place. Plus, don't you want to say you drank at school?
They had their own gin called 'The Professor' which was dee-licious with a capital Dee.
I couldn't get over how cheap and how good beer in Portland was. This whole tasting tray cost around $10, with most not being more than $4 for a full glass.
Beer food was consumed.
And we naturally visited a taco truck. Because $1.50 tacos make me so happy.
We also had the best breakfast we've had in America so far (there Javan, have said it on the blog now), at Tasty n Sons, although we did have to wait an hour to sit, in which time I rattled off to Brad and Javan all the things the cafe could be doing a little bit better to get more people seated quickly.
But y'know, that's okay, because there was bottomless tea and coffee.
And pork belly with fried eggs for $9.
And a fluffy, cocoa-y, chocolate potato doughnut.
By the time our two nights in Portland were up, I was a little sad to leave. There was such an easy going air to the place, and although it wouldn't have been the same without Javan, to effortless lead us from one drinking hole to the next, navigate the bus system without a hitch and just generally be a great conversation buddy, I still think I would have quite liked Portland.
Also, Portlandia now makes so much more sense.