Walking down streets lined with books and seeing titles like Streets of Hope, sparked a gleeful skip into my step. Never having been to Portland, Oregon before, it was already beginning to exceed my expectations. In February, we visited for an all-girls trip, to commemorate my sister-in-law’s engagement.
After settling into our comfy B&B, we feasted on steaming Thai food from Portland’s countless outdoor food carts, explored the downtown area, then admired the city skyline from Portland City Grille.
After dinner, we gathered at Maurice, a local bakery, where herbs strung from the ceiling like flowers. We reunited over delicious bites of cheesecake and sips of warm coffee and rooibus tea. One of my dear childhood friends, Monica, moved to Portland last year, and it was so nourishing to reconnect with her and hear about her transition from bustling NYC to hipster Portland, like how she bikes everywhere, hikes to nearby waterfalls, and plays bass in a band. She has always been, and still is, the cool one.
On Friday, we explored all the city had to offer: playing silly games at local toy stores, perused nearby shops, snacked on spam musubi from the diverse food carts, and savored Blue Star donuts (Their donuts are handmade with love from brioche dough. *drool* If you visit, try the passion fruit cocoa nib, it’s indescribable.)
We got lost in the “litmosphere” at Powell’s, a bookstore so huge you’d need to recover on a bench from walking down mazes of books. As day turned to dusk, we gazed at the river and its bridges, sheltered from rain at Stumptown Coffee, devoured VooDoo donuts, braved the bus at night, and slurped warm ramen noodles and sake in the presence of great friends.
Retreating back to the house, we washed our faces then dawned Korean sheet masks, aspiring for beautiful dewy skin. We played board games and laughed until our bellies ached, deep into the night.
On Saturday morning, it was more than drizzling, but that didn’t stop us! We strapped on our rain boots, umbrellas, and raincoats and embraced the city. We sampled robust flavors at a farmers market, like piping hot tamales and freshly poured French crepes. Musicians played their hearts out, and little kids danced in their rain coats.
My favorite part about the farmers market was the disposal area. Each food vendor had separate bins for compost, plastic, and trash. I love how eco-friendly the city is, how Portland recycles and cares about the earth, and ultimately, its people.
We rode local public transportation, where I met the friendliest folks. A young family on the train described how initially they were reluctant to move from San Francisco to Portland, but they loved how Portland was just a hop and skip away from waterfalls and parks, and Portlanders kind and helpful.
In the afternoon we strolled and browsed the boutiques on the quaint street of Nob Hill, lined with Victorian homes. While my sister searched for the perfect hat, I drooled over ice cream at Salt & Straw, slurping up a massive ice cream cone of Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper. We relaxed at a local brewery and later, a cozy winery.
Prior to dinner, we rode Uber to return to our B&B. Even our Uber drivers were cool! In the car, our driver played classical music. I asked him who his favorite composer and was pleasantly surprised when he answered, “Claude Debussey.” I immediately suspected he was a musician. Indeed, he was a piano teacher and composer, writing film scores by day, and driving for Uber in the evening.
To top off an eventful day exploring, the girls primped and pampered, donning gorgeous dresses for a night on the town. At the hip and swanky SauceBox, we enjoyed noodles, sushi, and other pan-Asian dishes, celebrating friendships and the start of new chapters of our lives.
Thanks Portland, for your hospitality and intrigue… I will have to visit again soon in the future! And an even bigger thanks to Jody and her ASR sisters… for the weekend where I was privileged to experience the bond of sisterhood. =)