Portland is a hip, bustling city that offers something for all tastes: loads of live music in every genre, tax-free shopping, national sports teams, hikes and trails, river activities, museums, bicycling - they even have a vegan strip club (full vegan menu and the dancers and employees don't wear any animal products)! While we did not make it to Casa Diablo we still found ourselves completely entertained just within the downtown area, where we stayed in a corner room on the 8th floor of the elegant Hotel deLuxe.
Instead of renting a car we chose to rely solely on Portland's public transportation and our own two feet. We grabbed a train from the airport that was direct and delivered us a block from our hotel - it couldn't have been easier and we saved about $40 a day in parking fees. At times a car would have been nice because we could have explored more of Portland, and also because walking for miles with a human inside of me got a little tiring sometimes, but I still don't regret not having the car. We used Uber or Lyft whenever I felt too exhausted to walk or wait for the bus or train. But mostly we walked, which afforded us the ability to get to know the city a little more intimately by seeing the little nuances that make a place unique, which would be missed zipping by on wheels.
It was walking around that led us to the Portland staple bookstore, Powell's, where we spent about an hour meandering through the four floors. On the fourth floor we discovered a small, well-secured room of rare books. We were given badges which allowed us to go inside and meander some more. Walking back to our hotel from Powell's we happened upon a narrow cafe attached to the corner of a hotel, shaped like a blunted arrow's edge - the Ringlers Annex. Curiosity got the best of us so we walked inside and and down a flight of stairs to a wide open basement cellar with a full bar, lots of seating, and live music. Then we hung out for awhile - Chris enjoyed a couple of beers and I slowly sipped on a tiny glass of wine while listening to soothing acoustic renditions of Bad Religion songs.
After breakfast one morning we took an Uber up to the Portland Japanese Garden. It was a lovely way to continue our day and immerse ourselves in the plethora of beautiful outdoor activities that nature-loving Portland has to offer. We left feeling tranquil and peaceful (which I believe is the point of a Japanese Garden) and the desire to recreate our own zen garden at home. But with Baby almost here, not to mention the California drought, our dreams of having a lush, harmonious garden will have to wait.
The following morning, after being smitten with the Japanese Garden, we decided to check out the Lan Su Chinese Garden in the urban Chinatown neighborhood in downtown Portland. The garden was designed with the collaboration of Portland's sister city Suzhou, China, so it is architecturally and culturally representative of Chinese ideals. This garden was also very beautiful and tranquil but, it being situated in the middle of a busy area, there were a couple of school groups and many more visitors than at the Japanese Garden. We made the best of it, though,and escaped the field-trips by having tea and dumplings at the tea house on the property.
I really enjoyed Portland. If it weren't cloudy and gray so often, and maybe if my family was near the area, I could really see us living there. It's diverse, liberal, green, artsy, and funky. Also, it's vegan heaven. So, actually, maybe one day we will end up there...
Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful week and remember - despite all the sadness and fury elicited from the Orlando Nightclub shooting - these words from Lin Manuel Miranda , "Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside". May this be our mantra until it becomes part of who we are.