08 August 2013

west coast postcard no. 5, portlandia

Chris and I arrived at the final stop of our West coast tour on a Wednesday evening. We were thrilled to finally see a familiar place, to have someone with suggestions of where to go and where to eat so we could stop doing so much travel research, and to have a place to do laundry. And! We were so excited to spend time with our favorite doctor and hang out in the best city. Al had just moved into a new neighborhood and new apartment a week before we got there, so it was extra awesome of him to host us. And we arrived having just driven a full day after going running, without showering. So, we were kind of gross house guests. We dropped down our bags, opened a few local Oregon beers and devoured a block of cheese while recounting our California travels.

The next morning we returned our wonderful little Prius to the rental car place and then bumbled around Portland while Alex was at work, marveling at how incredible the city is. I was worried that I painted an overly-beautiful picture of the city for Chris and that it would disappoint once we got there. Of course, it did no such thing. The lively streets, the epic food carts, all of the pedestrians and cyclists, microbreweries and giant bookstores (with all of the FSC Book Club picks on display)... it all lives up to its reputation. Obviously, I ordered another Whole Bowl and even that was as good as I remembered. I spent a good deal of time (and a fair amount of money) in the Athleta store and then we hopped the streetcar back to the NW neighborhood to meet Al.

That neighborhood is golden. It's honestly one of the nicest, most accessible, comfortable neighborhoods I've ever visited. There's a bustling main corridor, but it's not just filled with bars and pubs, it has fantastic restaurants and charming shops and schools and libraries and gardens. Although speaking of pubs, Alex lives above a brewery. Above a brewery. So naturally we stopped down there for a beer before heading to dinner a few blocks away at 23 Hoyt, where "New York chic meets Northwest cool." Perfect, no? The food was outstanding. Up there you see some fancy drinks, roasted asparagus with a fried egg plus a divine salad, a burger and some risotto. Outdoor seating for us to watch the passersby.

On Friday morning, Chris and I took a 6.5 mile run through Portland, crossing two bridges and running along the Willamette most of the way. It was another run for the books. Because Portland does this to me, I bought another running skirt with the hope that I'd actually have the guts to wear it in public. Yes, the only other running skirt I've ever purchased was also in Porland. That one is a little too floofy for my taste though, and this one from Athleta seemed more reasonable. I wore it on this run and it was awesome. Ya know what? I'm actually going to write a separate post on the running skirt. Weird topic, but necessary.

Given my recent flower "thing", I convinced Chris to take me to the International Rose Garden. It was a longer walk to get there than I expected, but the roses were insane. Everywhere! Thousands! Ah! We wandered around, but in no time I was sweaty and hungry so we made the walk back for an at-home happy hour with baguette, cheese and Alexander Valley wine. It wasn't until writing that sentence that I realized how hip it was for us to bring Alex wine from Alexander Valley Winery. Brilliant.

For dinner, Al brought us and a few of his friends to an out-of-control delicious vegan restaurant on the East side. And he's not vegan, or even vegetarian! I cannott overstate how wonderful the food was at Blossoming Lotus. We ordered a round of drinks and an appetizer to share- fried artichokes with aioli, I think- and had a total blast hearing about life as a doc in Portland and telling them about our trip. It's awesome meeting friends of good friends, because you just know you will love them. For dinner, I ordered the BBQ bowl, which came with soy curls and red onions tossed in a whiskey ginger bbq sauce, mac and cheese, steamed kale, and spicy cornbread with dijon garlic butter. All vegan, all delicious. Chris ordered the seared seitan steak with roasted potatoes, sautéed mushrooms in a red wine reduction sauce, cherry tomatoes, and market veggies. Al ordered a raw veggie lasagna and I think there was a raw green curry dish on the table too. Portland restaurants know what's up.

There's never enough time in Portland, especially with Alex in Portland. That town is just amazing. One night we were in the living room and looked out across the street at the local running store. (I know. Right across the street.) There was a lot of commotion and heaps of runners gathering. Upon investigation we discovered that there was a monthly "urban adventure run"! Peeps just run around Portland, looking for clues and then they can win prizes and drink a beer together afterwards. And it was just one of a gazillion awesome things going on that night, I'm sure of it. There's also something called a BrewCycle that we saw rolling around often, making stops at the brewery downstairs from Al. Basically, it's a 15-passenger bike that you can reserve for pub crawls. The laughter coming from it each time it passed was absolutely contagious. It's on my to-do list for the next time we visit.

And that was the trip! Alex drove us to the airport on a Saturday morning and we were home in New York late that night. With a trip like this, there are so many pieces that could go wrong. It's not a very optimistic view, but it's true. It's riskier than spending a week at a resort- which I would still be into, thank you very much- but we packaged so much into the time we had and made the most of our time away, without nary a glitch. It was epic, no doubt, and a perfect adventure for our first summer as married folk.

In case you missed it:
postcard no. 1, san francisco
postcard no. 2, big sur
postcard no. 3, our yurt
postcard, on. 4, the redwoods


  1. as always, i love reading about your adventures. your posts have made me want to check out portland for myself :) someday...

  2. Susan's suggestion that you consider a career as a travel write is definitely a good one. I toughly enjoyed this series of post cards.
    You two are living the life!

  3. What a great last leg of your trip! It really has been fun reading each installment. Wow...


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