Tuesday, October 4, 2011

portland by train

oh portland. like any budding relationship, you stole my heart in february and kept me wanting more. you played hard to get, since you're just far enough away that it requires a little effort to get to you. you wined and dined me and strung me along with no sales tax and bearded men who make a mean and cheap old fashioned between the happiest hours of 4 and 6pm. you kept things simple with bike lanes and dollar beers. you son of a gun, portland, i think i like you. 

i'm not going to sugarcoat the train experience for you: it leaves at 6:40am and it takes eight hours. as long as you can handle those realities, it's awesome. there's free wifi {which works most of the time, and is strong enough to send e-mails or read blogs & articles}, a café car, sweet people watching and beautiful scenery. i'd definitely take the train again. note: bicycles cost an extra $10 per person. when in rome portland...

i've stayed at the palm springs ace many times, but this was my first stay at their portland hotel. jenn, ashley and i shared a basic triple - the perfect room for travelling with friends. it has three single beds, costs $95/night and, oh yeah, has no bathroom. you have to walk down the hall for that, which is pretty hilarious in the morning on the way to the shower, but they supply sweatshirt robes, which make the trip a little less awkward. i must mention one other thing about the ace {besides the awesome collection of magazines in our room, including one for female drummers & another about alcohol} they have wonderful staff who know where to send you for whatever your heart desires. and they wear suspenders, just in case you were curious about the dress code.

happy hour @ clyde common
clyde common is the bar & restaurant off the lobby of the ace. it's also my favourite happy hour in portland. they have a delicious bourbon drink, friendly bartenders and a daily grilled cheese. i mean... right? we definitely went here twice on this trip. yes we did.

$1 beers @ the hungry tiger, dinner @ screen door, drinks @ central
a lengthy pre-trip debate about the pros & cons of bringing our bikes ended peacefully when we found out the ace rents bikes to hotel guests for free. after happy hour, we rode down to the river, across one of portland's million bridges and up the other side, where we encountered some friendly portlanders who told us about $1 beers down the street. oh portland. there was very little space to lock our bikes because every stitch of fence and post was already occupied with bikes. oh portland. we then rode up a few blocks to screen door, where we had the best fried chicken, mint juleps and fried green tomatoes of my life. we made it back to the ace with only four minutes to spare before the bikes turned into pumpkins, and then, at the suggestion of the front desk staff, wandered down to central, a speak easy-style bar on a roped-off street with picnic tables, strung lights and live music. everybody now: oh portland.

coffee @ ristretto roasters, breakfast @ tasty n sons, happy hour @gruner, shopping @ canoe
everybody and their dog and their blog told us to eat at tasty n sons. and... it was amazing. potatoes bravas, sweet biscuits, bacon-wrapped dates with maple syrup, moroccan chicken hash and goat cheese & beet fritatta - are you dying yet? be sure to peruse the neighbourhood and stop by the cute shops and ristretto roasters for coffee. breakfast was followed by shopping at three of my favourite portland shops: canoe, alder & co and frances may, where we had the loveliest time trying on clothes and shoes and chatting with our new portland friend ashley, the shop assistant. 

a festival in the pearl district with live music and food carts with beer pairings? yes please. a show at portland's best music venue with one of my favourite nashville singer/songwriters? yes please. the milk carton kids were awesome too and you can download their album for free on their website {linked above}.

frolicking in the pearl, putting a bird on it @ clyde common, breakfast @ byways, shopping in the alphabet
we went on walkabout through the pearl and the alphabet district and fell in love with both neighbourhoods. we found a kitschy diner, a vintage shop, an urban outfitters and a trader joe's. we also ended up back at clyde common, which wasn't much of a surprise to anyone.

coffee @ stumptown, dinner @ whiskey soda lounge & pok pok
one of my favourite things about the pacific northwest is the coffee. portland's stumptown is one of my top three favourites, with locations off the ace lobby and downtown. pok pok is basically the hottest restaurant in portland. it began as a food cart and expanded into a thriving restaurant with two offshoot locations - pok pok noi in the alberta neighborhood and whiskey soda lounge down the block from pok pok. upon arrival, we were told there would be a 2-2.5 hour wait. say wha? we walked down the street to whiskey soda lounge to wait, where we drank pok pok som {an amazing fruit & vinegar-based drink} and ate miang kham and pad thai. when we were finally summoned to pok pok, we had their famous chicken wings. Here's my tip: skip pok pok if there's a long wait and just eat at whiskey soda lounge, where they carry many of the same menu items and are much friendlier. And be sure to pop across the street to the super cute d-street food carts.

*many thanks to grace bonney for your portland suggestions!

1 comment:

trip styler said...

have to try tasty and sons. great post. agree: oh portland!