Sunday, 26 June 2011

Pacific North West Trip June 2011: Portland Day 1

So I dropped the high fiber diet on Friday for the sake of my colleagues, but risked a high fiber Gnu bar this weekend as recommended by Melissa and thankfully those don't seem to have the same troublesome side effects and I've already noticed a distinct flattening of the tummy. Yay!!! Happy happy happy. If things carry on in this way then in 4 weeks I may well squeeze into that bikini after all on my LA/Vegas trip. I've also noticed a definite improvement in my skin from all the fruit and veggies no doubt, so definitely worth persevering with the healthy habits. I'm actually pondering taking a few surfing lessons when I am in LA. Megan took lessons when she went to a yoga retreat in Costa Rica and absolutely loved it and she thinks it will be right up my street. I must admit I like the idea of it, although I am leery of committing to lessons alone - I know, I'm a total coward, but I would feel less self conscious about it if I had a buddy taking lessons too, but hopefully I will summon up the courage to give it a whirl. No guts no glory right??

The trip - dim and distant though it is - was great anyway. Melissa and I flew into Portland, arriving late to
our hotel on Friday 3rd June night and spent a couple of full days there before taking the train up to Seattle on the Monday morning. We were fortunate enough to have unbelievably beautiful weather, which was apparently atypical for Portland, mid-80s with low humidity and clear blue skies and surprisingly good hair days which I was not expecting given the soggy reputation of the Pacific North West. New York on the other hand was experiencing a heat wave and was unbearably close to 100F!! Ugh!! I was so so so happy not to be there.

We woke up fairly early on Saturday morning - still being on east coast time - although we bumped into a good number of hotel guests returning from their morning runs. No such exertions for us and instead we took a leisurly walk along the riverside to the Saturday Market and stopped at Bijou Café for breakfast where I had the most delicious meal of scrambled tofu with olive oil, garlic and parsley and the best home fries I have ever tasted.

We walked off some of our hearty breakfast by heading up to the Pearl District, a former warehouse district which is now home to boutiques, fancypants apartment buildings and restaurants galore. On the way we stopped for a browse in the fabulous Powell’s Books where I couldn't resist making a stationery purchase - I'm a stationery fiend, it's my drug of choice - and also a bathroom stop. I also couldn’t resist popping into Anthropologie as we passed by - a store I am obsessed with, although I swear to you that I hadn't looked up the location prior to my arrival and happened upon the store purely by coincidence. People who work with me will not believe that for a second, but it is true – and was thrilled to find a silk camisole top that I'd had my eye on for months on sale in my size, reduced from $78 to $39. Yay!!

Afterwards we sauntered around the Pearl District, taking a photo of the doors to the office of advertising agency Wieden & Kennedy for Kanayo who is obsessed with the idea of working there even though she has never so much as set foot in Oregon.

The Pearl District often feels very similar to TriBeCa in Manhattan

Tanner Springs Park, designed by German firm Atelier Dreiseitl and Portland's Greenworks P.C., with participation from local residents through a series of community workshops. The 'wall' you can see in the photo below is made from railway tracks set on end.

After exploring we decided to head back downtown towards our hotel for a break via Pioneer Square

Although we didn't break for long before the clock struck beer o'clock and we headed out to taste the offerings of the Full Sail Microbrewery whose tasting room is located inside McCormick and Schmick's at riverplace marina, passing the Ira Keller fountain - designed by Angela Danadjieva apparently inspired by the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, east of Portland - along the way, which was teeming with kids playing in the water despite the 'caution...this fountain is not meant for wading' signs dotted about the place.

We had plans to meet Melissa's friend Julie for dinner at Park Kitchen in North Park area near the Pearl District so after sampling the Full Sail beers we headed back to the Pearl District to sample the beers at the Bridgeport Brew Pub along with some pretzels to line our stomachs. On the walk over we noticed many many folding chairs lined up for a front row seat to that evening's rose parade.

The restaurant was amazing, I am still craving their chick pea fries, salt cod fritters and chocolate tart. Afterwards we headed over to the Teardrop Lounge for cocktails, which was recommended by a BBC article on the best US cocktail bars and then Melissa and I toddled back to our hotel through the remnants of the parade for a final drink at the hotel bar fire pits. Obviously it was a boozy kind of kick off to our Pacific North West adventure.

Check me with my artsy photography ;-)


Russann said...

Long time lurker of your blog. Started reading when my daughter was at NYU, to get a daily feel for the city. She graduated two years ago, but I still really enjoy your take on work, life and travel. I am a Portlandiar, and you could not have written a nicer advertisement for the city. Looks like you did the town right. Hope you got to go to VooDoo donuts though. That would really have smashed the healthy eating, but oh so good. Glad you picked the right weather time, as I am sitting at work with a space heater today.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Russann, thanks for reading, I'm really flattered that you enjoy my blog. I loved Portland a lot, however unfortunately the VooDoo donuts in the city center was being renovated, so we did not make it as I believe the other location is further out of town. Sorry to hear it is cold there, it is v humid in New York.


Amel said...

Sounds like FUNNNNN!!! :-D YAAAYYY for finding clothes on a bargain! :-D

LOVE the pics, too! :-D 37'C in NY? OUCH OUCH OUCH...that's WAY too hot for me!

Ruth said...

Hey Girl, question for you: I'm gearing up for a trip to Peru in February of 2012 - what should I take with me? I will be on a boat in the Amazon, not trekking up Machu Pichu like you did, but still would like your opinions on the country and its people.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Ruth,

I loved Peru and the people, it was an amazing trip and I'd go back in a second. I've never been to the Amazon, but if you are going to be permanently on the boat then I imagine you don't have to be as concerned about bathroom facilities as we were. It wasn't pretty and a headlamp would have come in very useful as camp lighting is usually non-existent, however the one issue with those is that the light attracts bugs which is less of an issue on the trail, but probably would be more of a cause for concern in the jungle so that's something to be aware of. If they recommend you having a flashlight I'd also recommend one that will also stand up in case you need to use it to see when getting dressed if they have you up and about when it's still dark and there is no lighting available. Otherwise I am not sure you will need anything special. I bought lightweight SPF50 hiking pants from REI that were great - their own brand - and layered tanks and sweat tops as the temperature was very variable. I also bought a 3 season sleeping bag and a self inflating mattress pad, which were worthwhile investments, but it doesn't sound as if those items will be necessary for you. Oh and lastly, good walking shoes - my personal favourites are Gortex lined Salomon sneakers which have seen me through many a trip.

Give me a shout if you have any more questions.