Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Portland 2013, Part 1

Warm hello from the ever-raining Pacific North West! Or "rain coast" as it is known from here to Portland!

Matthew and I are relaxing after a very long weekend in Portland, Oregon.

The back-story: In March, I discovered that my favourite band, Hanson, would be touring the region. I made extravagant plans for us (Matthew, me) to roadtrip to Portland, see the show, then back to Seattle, see that show, then back to Vancouver, for the last show.

Then I got a job, failed to finish my degree, and had a wild summer of tourism in Vancouver, and totally neglected to book anything.

...Then, after I booked the Portland leg of the journey, I discovered that the Portland Hanson gig was sold out. [Cue quiet devastated whimpers from my desk during my lunch break.] Bloody hipsters. [Nearly no other show on the continent is sold out. Only Portland and their hometown, probably.] Anyway, we didn't want to long-weekend in Seattle, because we've done that twice already. And it is shortly to be Matthew and my 7-year anniversary. So we decided to nix the Portland-Seattle gigs* and just do Portland proper, with Pinot Noir, vintage shopping, Powell's Books, indie coffee, and rain, oh, the rain.


Obligatory Peace Arch shot
We had intended to get on the road at the crack of dawn Saturday, but in fact it was late enough that the border line-up was an hour long. Feeling miffed, we cranked the classic rock station and tried to consider that border waits are a quintessential cultural experience of North American roadtrips.

 The weather was typhoonesque. There were long hours of driving when we couldn't see two metres in front of us, let alone the gorgeous autumn-coloured forest landscape.

We rolled into Portland just before 5pm on Saturday, staying in the South end of downtown (very businessy). [Our hotel was generally comfy, but on Sunday night there was a fire alarm at 2:30am and we all had to go down the fire escape and stand outside in the cold for half an hour. No actual fire, though, thank goodness.] We headed out for a coffee and a 'splore, and Matthew picked up some amazing bargains at the department stores!!

Doing his best Bruce Springsteen. Sadly, did not purchase.
On Saturday evening we dressed up an went out (in the typhoon) for a good old-fashioned Fancy Dinner at a restaurant called Veritable Quandry. We were seated in garden room nook, and ate local fish and drank local wine. Most civilised. After dinner, it miraculously stopped raining for long enough for us to walk back to the hotel.


Because Matthew and I are latterly styling ourselves as grab-life-by-the-horns folk (and because we crawled into a luxurious king-sized bed at 10pm on a Saturday, yeah, real party animals), we set an alarm for 8am Sunday, and hit the town early.

Even though it was pouring rain, we walked (huddled romantically under one inadequate umbrella) from our hotel to the Pearl District to rustle up some breakfast at Zeus cafe.

Pensive with Latte. This was Matthew's default look for most of our vacation,truth.

So. Happy. to be eating a fresh bagel. You know how hard those things are to find?!
We then got lost in Powell's Books for about ($100) an hour. Sections we 'splored:
1. Cards
2. Magazines
3. General fiction
4. Sale fiction
5. Oregon and local literature
6. Art technique and theory
7. Military history

Oh, Powell's.
 Then,on the recommendation of a hip young colleague of mine, we discovered Buffalo Exchange. Omg Hold. Me. Back. I came out of there with one dress, a merino sweater and a cashmere cardigan. Matthew came out of there with the most amazingly bright green-and-gold sneakers. He promptly found a trash can [as they say in America] and ditched the shoes he was wearing. That's how much these green-'n-gold things caught his fancy!

Confession: we didn't have immediate luck with the vintage shopping on Saturday. Our map was a bit undetailed, and it was soaking wet, and we passed one which was closed. We started to lose the faith a bit, but then Voodoo Donuts hove into sight...

Even in the pouring rain, people [like us] still line up out the door for these bad boys.

Hit tip: make this picture bigger on your screen, and read the sick donut flavours.

...Merchandise your visit with some Voodoo Donuts undies.

Rotating display case
 Because there is nowhere to sit at the donut shop, and because it was, have I mentioned?, pouring rain, we hustled it to Stumptown Coffee Roasters one block South.

The barista was mansplaining critical theory to his friend while making our coffees. A customer wheeled his thousand-dollar European steel-framed bicycle inside. R-Kelly was playing a bit too loudly on vinyl. It was everything you've heard about Portland and more.

We then continued with the trudging in the rain thing. Our umbrella was really inadequate. My socks were wet and our paper shopping bags were disintegrating in the wet. [In Portland, there's a by-law which forbids plastic bags from being given in stores.]

Non sequiter, but just had to include this rad neon sign.
When we had almost lost hope, we found Magpie's vintage. This was the best vintage shop we found all weekend (we also went to Ray's Ragtime and a pretty upscale Goodwill). There was a shop dog with a lion-shave. And Matthew acquired some natty blue houndstooth trousers. 

We headed home past this adorable theatre: 

... and actually abandoned our dinner plans because it was so bloody cold and wet. Instead, we scraped down to the hotel restaurant and continued with the pinot-noir-a-thon.

Okay, this will have to TBC, because my poor eyeballs are falling out, and we both have an extra long day ahead of us tomorrow...

Stay tuned for Part 2: Portland East side and West side!

*We still have tickets for Hanson in Vancouver tomorrow night, so all is not lost.

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