my first trip to portland

Portland is cultured, quirky, overcast, green, calming, colorful, and simply beautiful. I got to explore this city during fall (my favorite season), which was the best choice ever. The leaves were incredibly vibrant in ombre shades of red and gold. Not to mention, there is an abundance of lush, tall trees and shrubs throughout the entire landscape. This was my first time visiting Portland, and this trip definitely surpassed my expectations in ways I couldn’t imagine. I met up with my dear friend, Hyunah, and we set out to see and do as much as possible with 72 hours in Portlandia.

First off, Portland is weird.

Beginning with my Frontier flight from Denver to Portland, I already experienced having a pink parrot on board. This pink parrot was not only perched on the shoulder of pony-tail man inside the plane, but this pink parrot also laughed like a human. Pony-tail man also had on flight a clear cage with five baby birds in it. Also, filling up your own gas tank is illegal; it must be filled up for you by a gas attendant. Gas stations openly sell a variety of 6.9%, local craft brewery beers – not your grocery store 3% beer like you’d expect. Starbucks also sells craft beers in the evening. No sales tax. Food trucks aren’t just a small thing downtown. They are spread throughout town and have most cuisines you could think of. Even the ice cream flavors offered at the famous Salt and Straw are weird: Pear and Blue Cheese, Blood Sausage, and Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper? Well, weird is good. It’s actually a compliment.

Hyunah and I stayed at an Airbnb in the residential area of Happy Valley in Salem, Oregon. We booked a shared room with a private bathroom in a large, suburban house. The house was only a short 25-30 minute drive to downtown Portland, 40 minute drive to the famous waterfalls and gorges, and a 2 hour drive to Cannon Beach. It was perfect for our weekend stay and was a great, affordable option for us!

We started Saturday morning with a Southern brunch at Screen Door. While there were many people, the wait actually went by quite quickly. Hyunah ordered jumbo shrimp cheese grits with biscuits and eggs, while I ordered a sausage over-easy egg biscuit sandwich with a side of cheese grits. The service was excellent, and it was absolutely delicious.

After brunch, we drove to the Colombia River Gorge to see the Multnomah Falls, Horsetail Falls, and Oneonta Gorge. All of these sights are close to one another. They were some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. Especially during autumn.

Later in the evening, we explored downtown by foot and made a stop at the world’s largest independent used and new bookstore, Powell’s Books. The bookstore is huge (68,000 sq. feet) and seems to sell almost every book you could think of. It was fun getting lost in rows and rows of floor to ceiling shelves.

Alas, it is time to tell my story of how I ran into Fred Armisen from Portlandia in Portland! I truly believe this moment was meant to happen. What are the odds that I would cross paths with him in a split minute!?

So, Hyunah and I were walking back to our car downtown, getting ready to drive to Salt and Straw for ice cream. We were parked outside a grocery store called World Foods. As I was walking towards the car, I looked inside the glass windows of World Foods and saw a man paying for his groceries and thought, huh, he looks an awful lot like Fred from Portlandia. Must be his doppelgänger or something. There’s no way. I only saw him from the side and did not see his face clearly. I got in the car, and my mind already moved on. I see a man walk in front of the car and see his face, and IT WAS FRED. I lost it and was rambling to Hyunah in shock. I asked her if I should run, and she just told me to run. Fred had already walked to the street curb and was going to cross the street. It was my last chance. I got out of the car and ran towards him. Apparently, Hyunah says he greeted us with a ‘bonjour’. I asked if he was Fred from Portlandia, and he said ‘yes’. In that brief moment, I told him his show was awesome and asked for a picture. He was kind, low-key, and quiet. I still can’t believe I met Fred, while in Portland. What a trip.

We ended the day with some homemade ice cream and waffle cones from Salt & Straw. Even at 9:00-10:00pm, there was such a long line. I ended up getting a scoop of Pear and Blue Cheese and Cookies and Cream with Raspberry Swirl. Hyunah got the Pear and Blue Cheese and Freckled Woodblock Chocolate.

Sunday morning we set out for the coast! The scenic drive to Cannon Beach was stunning. Endless forests of tall pine trees and golden shrubbery. Luckily the rainstorm that was supposed to happen this weekend did not pick up. There was just light to normal rainfall, which simply added another depth to the leaves and trees.

What is a stop at the coast without fresh seafood! We stopped by Ecola Restaurant and Market for homemade clam chowder, fish n’ chips, and fresh crab. It was perfect for warming up from the cold winds.

Once we arrived back in downtown Portland, we decided it was only fitting to have some hot tea at the Boulangerie Cafe on such a gray, rainy, and cold day.

Our last day in Portland.

We first got some gourmet donuts from Blue Star. We decided not to visit Voodoo Donuts since we have one back home in Denver. I got the Buttermilk Lemon Poppyseed cake donut, which was delicious (but also quite rich), and Hyunah got the Valrhona Chocolate Crunch (which she says was too sweet).

Our visit to the International Rose Test Garden was an absolute dream. The flowers, trees, shrubs, and leaves, are absolutely gorgeous. There was something so romantic and magical about walking through a lush garden. The garden is also free to the public, which was a definite plus.

For our last meal, we had ramen at Boxcar Ramen downtown. A great choice for warm broth and noodles on a rainy day. The ramen was authentic and very delicious.

With two hours to spare before having to head to the airport, we decided to make one last stop at Crown Point for a scenic outlook of the Hood River. It was so worth visiting with the time we had left! Stunning views.

Hyunah and I had talked about visiting Portland for almost a year – I’m so glad we finally made it happen! Portland is such a unique and beautiful city with a lot to see and do. Overall, a fun weekend with lovely company, great views, and tasty food. I will definitely be visiting again when I can, and I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t been! Who knows, you might also run into Fred.

– Angela


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