If you don’t know it by now, I am infatuated with NYC. It’s in my blood, I think about the city all the time, and I truly consider it a 2nd home. However, should there ever come a day that a movie is made about my life, I’d want it set in Portland, Oregon even though I have no relation to the city whatsoever.
As I continue to make my way up the West coast, it just keeps getting better and better. Each city I visit, I love even more than the last. Arriving at PDX, I was greeted by a clean airport and a cool, summer air. The navigation from the gate to baggage claim to the MAX line into the city was seamless. The airport has free wifi too which is always a plus.
Taking the light rail to the hostel, I walked past JELD-WEN field, home of the Portland Timbers, and was surrounded by trees. Ironic? Portland is so charming, it’ll have you head over heels in love before you know it. Despite a few unusually aggressive homeless people, I have never felt safer walking around on my own in a U.S. city before.
Even though Portland is considered a major city, it doesn’t feel that way. It seems to be more of a moderately sized community that is easily manageable to get around. You’ll find more local coffee shops around instead of a Starbucks on every corner and more accommodating options for vegans and health nuts.
From what I can tell, it is a city that very much celebrates and supports the arts and the artists. From painting and photography to digital designers of all kinds, it’s here that you’ll find some of the most creative minds. Most days, especially on weekends, it isn’t hard to find a flea market or street fair promoting Portland’s local artists. For this reason alone, perhaps that’s what makes Portland a West coast gem.
Portland is best toured by bike. There are a myriad of parks and checkpoints to stop at along the way to enjoy the scenery, and many of the bike shops run custom tours to various pubs/bars, restaurants, tourist spots, etc. Let it be your introduction to the city with an atmosphere for casual nights out with friends. Walking around, it’s easy to notice the amount of young people who have established themselves in a career and grown out of their heavy drinking college days. Because of that, there is an element of class in Portland that is hard to find in most major American cities.
Portland is known for many things, among them being food trucks, Powell’s Books, and VooDoo Doughnuts. Powell’s is an independent bookstore that takes up an entire city block. It is an introvert’s heaven, and you are 99% guaranteed to find what you came looking for. Next to The Strand in NYC, Powell’s has become my favorite bookstore in the country.
Though their claim to fame is serving Portland’s best doughnuts, I’m here to break it to you that VooDoo is not that special. It’s the novelty of different toppings and doughnut names that draws in a crowd every day and leaves people waiting in line up to 45 minutes. We’re talking oreos, fruit loops, bacon maple, captain crunch, M&Ms, and more. Ignore my advice, and try one anyways. It’s a good excuse to eat a doughnut.
Did you know that Portland is food truck heaven? $5 Thai food? Yes, please. On many corners, and by corners I mean parking lots, up to 20 food trucks are crammed in as people swarm the sidewalks looking for their ideal meal. From Thai and Korean BBQ to bratwurst and grilled cheese, you cannot go wrong. Food trucks are a budget traveler’s best friend because you often get a hefty portion for next to nothing. It nearly puts the chains to shame. Eat local and delicious, go home feeling full and satisfied!
Apparently, I missed the original memo that everyone loves Portland, and now I know why. I’m going to try to go back for World Domination Summit 2013 so I’ll be sure to book more time with this West coast gem.