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Keep Portland Weird

Or Alternatively Titled: Keep Jennifer Away

There are those who place Portland on a diamond encrusted pedestal – exalting the city’s glistening downtown and profusion of green space. Others however find Portland’s “Beervana” culture and abundance of strip clubs alarming. Then there are those who just can’t seem to place Portland in any sort of category, and end up leaving with a feeling of indifference, as I did last week.


Following my excursion to the Vancouver Olympics, I briefly stopped back in Seattle for the weekend before jaunting off to Portland for several days with Dan. We both had never explored Portland and were eager to experience the culture of Seattle’s neighbor city just three hours south. Perhaps it was the contrast between the bustle of Vancouver, and to be fair, we had no idea what to expect and our planning was slightly haphazard, but in the end we left Portland feeling slightly amused, but not totally impressed.

We checked into the swanky Hotel Modera, whose small European style rooms were furnished in an artsy, mod fashion. The clientele was clad in business attire, and we couldn’t help feeling as though this luxury boutique hotel was every bit out of our league. But au contraire – I the savvy shopper snagged a fantastic deal by scoping dozens of websites for the lowest rate, which the hotel happily honored. Even better we were centrally located in downtown Portland, which made sightseeing a breeze. Although our room was quite cushy, we wasted no time in depositing our belongings before we were back outside exploring.


As we navigated the city’s intricately laid brick walkways, we immediately noticed a scarcity of livelihood. Although we were smack in the middle of one of the Pacific Northwest’s largest cities, there was a stillness which I have never experienced in a city. The lack of pedestrians, traffic, and general noise was alarming. As day rolled into night, this became even more pronounced as virtually every storefront and restaurant closed shop by dark. Even in Portland’s more lively neighborhoods, you still couldn’t escape the eerie quiet which echoed off the city’s polished streets.


Pioneer Square was about as lively as it got, and even then I realized most of the people hanging around the Square were just waiting for their bus to pick them up. Even the directional sign post seemed to suggest anywhere is better than here.


We almost couldn’t take the perfection of downtown, so rather than walk around the city, we headed further afield. Our first outing was a hike to the Pittock Mansion where a gorgeous view of Mt. Hood looming over the city skyline awaited us. From this vantage point the city below appeared bustling and chaotic. Nothing like the polished streets of downtown we had experienced.


Following our vertical climb to the Pittock Mansion we utilized what little sun was left to drive to Multnomah Falls, the United States second tallest waterfall. Dropping 620 feet, this spectacular water display is just 30 minutes outside of Portland.


Back in Portland we decided to spice things up a bit. We knew there was a funky, eclectic side to Portland, and we were determined to find it. With the help of some locals we discovered the deliciousness of Voodoo Doughnuts. Here we chose between dozens of doughnut varieties which included "Dirty Snowball" a chocolate cake doughnut covered with pink marshmallow glaze and surprise filling and "Dirt" a raised doughnut covered with vanilla glaze and Oreo cookies. Nothing like a sugar rush to get you out of a travel rut.


With a new found energy we ventured to Powell's Books. OK, OK, so I may be the only person on the face of the planet who finds enjoyment when mixing a sugar induced high with scholarly pursuits, but Powell's Books steals the show as far as book stores are concerned. Quite possibly the largest used book store in the world (don't quote me on that), Powell's has an inventory of over 40,000 and purchases 3,000 new books daily. Sprawling, massive, and open until the wee hours of the morning, I suddenly realized where everyone disappears to after dark.


The next morning we woke rejuvenated and refreshed. We stepped outside ready to conquer the world. Except it was raining. Now I'm not one to usually let the rain get me down, but I was already feeling out of sorts about our whole Portland experience. Instead of return to our hotel room to don my pajamas and watch Ellen, we zipped up our rain jackets and let the games begin.


We decided to take a nice stroll along the Willamette River towards the Portland Aerial Tram. While Portland may be known for it's bike culture (it seems everyone pedals to work), many also utilize the tram to get from the waterfront to the Oregon Health and Science University. But then there are people like me who use it to get a glimpse at the pretty city below. Compared to the gondolas of Switzerland, the Portland Tram is a kiddie ride, but I still couldn't help feeling a bit queasy as I looked out the window.


Once our round trip ride was complete we found ourselves at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry where Dan could have easily spent a week building bridges out of Legos and buildings out of Popsicle sticks. As one who visits the Pacific Science Center in Seattle on a weekly basis, I found the exhibits to be yawn inducing. But, I stuck it out for my husband's sake. We both enjoyed competing against one another on an assortment of brain teaser puzzles, and I will have you know this chick creamed the competition.


The day was coming to a close and so we cozied up at a nice little wine bar (while the rest of the city was at Powell's Books). The next morning our adventure would have us leaving Portland as ventured to the Oregon Coast before making our way home. Refelcting on our Portland experienced, we realized what was amiss was not the city itself. We simply weren't funky enough for this clean cut, hipster town.


Posted by Jennylynn 08:51 Archived in USA Tagged foot

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Hello from a fellow TP blogger in the USA! I just stumbled in here by accident, but great entry, I'll have to try to read a few more in future!

by BillLehane

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