Portlandia: Part I

On Our Way

We started this month with a long weekend to the Northwest in Portland, Oregon. It seems everyone’s first question was, “What’s in Portland?” or if we had someone to visit there. Maybe we are still expected to rush to Florida or Cancun at the first sign of spring. Really, we wanted to go somewhere neither of us had ever been, and we heard great things about PDX as a beautiful, clean, foodie town!

I couldn’t have asked for better weather. 60F and sunny most of the weekend was very unusual for the rainy city. It was so nice to see green grass for the first time in months! We rented a studio apartment via Airbnb from a well-traveled, amazing host family. They swept us up from the airport, gave us suggestions on where to visit, and treated us to homemade crepes and cappuccinos in the morning! I would highly recommend Airbnb to friends looking for an inexpensive, authentic travel experience here or abroad. We opted for staying in an entire apartment near downtown for only $65 a night. I love that people all over the world open up their neat digs to eager travelers.

Of course, consuming as much food as possible was on my list. I think Neil had in mind to drink all the black coffee and sample as many local IPAs as possible during our stay. (A barista’s face when he insisted on a 20oz black coffee with 3 espresso shots was fantastic).

Stumptown Coffee
Nuvrei Cafe
(above): Stumptown after VooDoo Doughnuts, and Nuvrei Cafe…the cafe so nice, we went there twice. Their croissants and macarons were just right!

On our first night, we wandered around the Mississippi District at our host Dino’s suggestion. I oohed and ahhed at everything in Paxton Gate, a store full of “treasures and oddities inspired by the garden and the natural sciences.” From pinned butterflies, lantern flies, to zebra busts and agates, there was no shortage of sights to take in. I fell in love with jewelry by a local artist, who cast silver from organic things like stingray skin, anaconda vertebrae, and octopus tentacles.

My ring is a jersey agate, set in a silver band cast from stingray skin. Love!

The Magic is in the Hole
VooDoo Doughnut
Our trip to PDX would be incomplete without waiting in an absurdly long line for Voodoo Doughnut. Our mistake was heading here after our indulgent brunch at Mother’s Bistro. (The salmon hash was seriously amazing. I’ve already found the recipe!) The oreo chocolate peanut butter doughnut was as big as my head! Neil inhaled his peach fritter, and I was sure the afternoon would end in a sugar coma.

Doughnuts in tow, we found a Saturday market to walk off our meals and shrugged off our sweaters (it was unseasonably hot!)

See more photos from the sunny Chinese gardens after the cut!

Lan Su Chinese Gardens

Perhaps one of my favorite pieces of our trip was our sunny Saturday afternoon at this garden – a serene, beautiful place in the middle of the city. Everything was in bloom, the courtyards were a stunning inspiration for our backyard, and I was on to my 4th cup of tea in the traditional tea house.
Zig Zag
The view from the teahouse: I loved these zig zag bridges across the pond, said to help one shrug off spirits who can only walk a straight path. I had to smile at this sweet couple enjoying the gardens, until they started playing excessive tonsil hockey in front of children and passersby.

Lan Su Sunshine
Yes, we took the tour!

The beauty in these details!

Sunlight and blooms, everywhere we turned.

Plum Trees

These Daphne flowers were among the best I’ve ever smelled. The gardens were so fragrant!

We tried to hide from the sun in the teahouse. I think this is one of the only pictures I have of Neil from our trip where we weren’t eating food.

I just wanted to take them all home!

Other amazing things: Dinner at Blue Hour. Unisex bathrooms, everywhere! Tacos at Por Que No. The chicken adobo and squid tacos were my favorite. The market near our apartment. Perfect for picking up healthy snacks. Complimentary sweets at closing when we visited Nuvrei. Powell’s Books…Portland’s “Strand” book store… we could get lost here all day!

In Life, Travel
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