A city with a sense of community and culture, great architecture and public transit, unique entertainment, encouraging music and art scene, with enough inspiration from the weather, nature, people, and emotion to last a lifetime; what else could you ask for? I decided to take a trip to Portland from Dec. 27th 2005 until New Years Day, and I want to share it with everyone. The best way to describe the city itself is to quote something someone told me while I was up there. “Most big cities, you just go about your business, doing your thing… but in Portland, you’re actually part of the city.” It’s completely true. For the most part, everyone is friendly and inviting even when it’s pouring rain outside. Places like Pizza Schmizza, the Mcmenamin pubs/theaters/venues, Voodoo Doughnuts, Stumptown Coffee, Montage, and Powell’s are examples of things you wouldn’t find anywhere in California… and in EVERY place, someone was interested in sparking a conversation, grabbing a bite to eat, help with directions, or at least exchange a greeting. Even in a place that’s 320 days of solid sunshine like San Diego, that doesn’t happen. Not even close.
Before I took my trip, I dug through hundreds of pages looking for information to find out if Portland was the same place I had in my imagination and nothing said different, so I took the chance to check it out for myself. While I was there, it was sunny for 2 day, overcast for 2, and raining off and on.
DAY ONE: Got off the plane, made my way through PDX, found out I had lost baggage, and headed over to the MAX. Took the 20 minute light rail trip to Pioneer Square, checked in at the Hilton, and made my way to Stumptown Coffee. Grabbed the best latte I’ve ever had, sat down and chatted with these kids about New Years and things to do around town. Made my way to china town to check out shops and such, got a call from the airport saying my suitcase came in, hopped on the MAX, picked up my suitcase, and back to my room for the night.
DAY TWO: Took the trolly (for free I might add) up to Powell’s City of Books, and was totally blown away. I knew it was a city of books, but holy shit… it was 5 floors. All of the art/design books were on the top floor which also had a rare book room that I couldn’t stay out of. I found a fourth edition book on inventions by Ben Franklin that was going for $15k, if I had the cash I would have bought it in a heart beat. Afterwards, I went over to the adidas store to pick up a pair of shoes and to see if it was what Mark made it out to be. It was a nice set up, and Mark was right. I found a sweet pair of kicks and hit it off with one of the floor associates. She and I talked golf, advertising/marketing, and World Cup for a while until we went to lunch. We went over to Henry’s for a drinks and food. She went back to work, I went back to SW Portland. Walked around, drank coffee, bought a coat and scarf, and decided to grab a taxi to the Mission Theater to watch Jarhead for $3 admission, drink some HammerHead ale and some dinner. Decent movie, good food, great beer. Hotel, sleep.
DAY THREE: I went up to the Pearl District for lunch, shopping, and a whole lot of walking around. Had the best lunch at Blue Hour. It’s a deceptive resturant, you look in and the floor manager is walking around in a suit, and everything looks swank. You sit down and look at the completely inexpensive menu with burgers and other lunch items on it. Great drinks, amazing burger, and delicious fries. After lunch, I went over to DWR and browsed the showroom and cataloged everything that I would pick up if I move there, got a sweet loft, and $50k in cash. Headed up to NW portland right when it was getting dark, checked out a bunch of local shops, and watched Jesus is Magic. Had a spicy-beef salad and some beer at Muu-Muu’s (amazing). Grabbed coffee, and took the trolly back to the hotel.
DAY FOUR: Rented a Kia Spectra sport, and took a trip to Astoria. Sidenote, for those of you that don’t know… I’m a huge Goonies fan. I went to Astoria for the sole reason of checking out the Goonies landmarks and grab fish’n'chips at the Ship’s Inn. The ride there was amazing. Driving through the forest when it’s overcast and misty with a little fog was breathtaking, pictures don’t do it justice. About 3/4 of the way there, there was this ‘Elk Viewpoint’ where you could see a stream, mountains/trees, and a herd of elk. It was so majestic and calming. Finally got into town, headed right for the Ship’s Inn for the best fish’n'chips in my entire life. It was right on the bay with nothing obstructing the view of the horizon. A ship would pass by once and a while, but it didn’t matter; I had my fish, my cocoa, and it was perfect. Payed the bill, and drove around different scenes from the Goonies. First the market from the begining of the movie, then Mikey’s house, and his dad’s museum; it made my day. Then I went over to the Maritime Museum for about an hour or so, which was awesome; had a blast there. Decided it was about time to head back to catch the Sleater-Kinney show at the Crystal Ballroom. Got lost in the windy maze back to Portland and it took close to 3 1/2 hours to get back. I drove through a ton of podunk towns that had a ton of character though. Back in Stumptown, headed over to the venue and the show was sold out -_-. So I drank downstairs for a while, walked across the street to some huge independent recordshop, and decided to go down to Montage since I had a car. What a killer place! It’s in this completely industrial/commercial area that’s dark and has nothing but warehouses… but on this one corner, 4-5 blocks deep, there’s lights and people. Great atmosphere, awesome people, etc. Had a blast, headed back, sleep.
DAY FIVE: Woke up, got coffee, and did some more exploring. Found this sweet 80’s arcade called Ground Kontrol that had nothing but pinball and classic arcade games. Spent about 2 hours there just playing GORF, Tron, pinball, Centipede, and… GALAGA. Walked out and right next door there was a shop called Compound something that had nothing but vinyl toys, sneakers , and clothes. It totally rad. Then right next door to that, there was an internet cafe that had a deli, coffee, boardgames, and comfortable furniture. It was getting late and I didn’t grab lunch until 2/3ish. Went back up to the Pearl to check out Pizza Schmizza. This place had amazing pizza, a cooky atmosphere, crazy condiments and drinks selection, and great people/music. This is where I heard the quote about being part of Portland. After stuffing my face, I headed up to NE Portland to the Chinese Garden; which was beautiful and some what inspiring.
Went back to the hotel to take a shower and get ready for New Year’s Eve at Berbati’s Pan where lackthereof, 31knots, and The Helio Sequence were playing. This was the cap to my awesome trip; I had the most fun I’ve ever had on New Years, not to mention it was probably one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. Lackthereof played and started off the night; they’re great live. Half way through their set, I introduced myself to this group of random friends and we drank, talked, and rocked all night. Then 31knots played an incredible set while we drank more. After their set I went over to Voodoo Doughnuts and grabed a glazed satan donut, along with a cap’n crunch donut. The Helio Sequence got on stage and everyone got up to dance, and by this time, I’ve had two beers, three gin/tonics, and two vodka/redbulls so I busted out. I don’t know how many girls I danced with, or if I was even doing anything close to dancing but I was having a blast. Towards the end of their set I had drank 3 more vodka/redbull’s and decided it’s high time to close my tab. It was only $37. I said “UNBELIEVABLE!” and the guy said “What did I overcharge?” So I laughed my drunk laugh, left a $15 tip to even things out (I was drunk, don’t judge me), and went back to cutting up the dance floor. After it was over, I stumbled back to my room at close to 2am with the hope of getting some sleep in before I had to catch a 7:30am flight, -_-.
Wake up still drunk at 6am, stuff everything into any bag I have, stumble to the bus that takes me to the MAX, that takes me to the airport. I get to my plane just as it’s about to board, and back to San Diego we go.