West Coast Adventures: Part II
Taking the train was a fun alternative to flying, and the trip was only about four hours long. Plus, the views were amazing! I was only able to capture a few iPhone pics here, but you get the idea.
We were anxious to see what Portland and all its weirdness was all about and the Portlanders did not disappoint - our first Uber driver was the perfect Portland-y mix of funny, friendly, and weird. He provided the perfect welcome to the city. We pulled up to our first Airbnb, a charming house in the Alphabet District, and were excited to find that it matched the photos exactly. If you have never traveled using Airbnb, we highly suggest it. We felt comfy & cozy and fit in right with the locals.
We soon found out just how easy it was to get around this small, big city. We were right off of a main road, NW 23rd Ave, where we found a ton of cute shops and yummy restaurants. Within a 20 minute walk, we could be in the heart of downtown or climbing some hills to a serene wooded area. We loved exploring the neighborhood around our Airbnb, but we did have our hearts set on some specific destinations before arriving. Leading up to our honeymoon, we researched some must-see’s and heard from several people where the fun was at in Portland.
Our first stop, McMenamins, was suggested to us by one of our 2016 couples who grew up in Oregon! We ordered a sample tray of their brews and an order of their Truffle Fries, which came with the most delicious dip we have ever had. Our bartender was super nice. He gave us a few more suggestions, some we have heard before and some new. We had planned on hitting up Voodoo Donuts the following morning, but he also convinced us to visit Pope House & M Bar. So we were off.
We absolutely loved the atmosphere in every place we went. Pope House is an old house turned bourbon bar, dimly lit and super chill. We tried a few bourbon drinks including a hot toddy and a brown derby (bourbon, fresh grapefruit and honey). This may very well be where I had my favorite dish of the whole honeymoon. The Pickled Block. I wasn’t sure to expect. I thought maybe a variety of tasty pickles? Well, I wasn’t totally wrong. The block arrived and I was surprised to see a variety of pickled vegetables. I’m talking asparagus, cauliflower, onions, pickles (obviously), radishes and even eggs & sausage! Let me tell you, I have a new obsession with all things pickled. It was delicious! I vow to return to the Pope House and order this appetizer again soon. And I highly suggest you all make your way out West purely for this reason. If not for the Pickled Block, perhaps you would enjoy the bourbon glazed chicken wings that Brooks ordered. Equally delicious. I promise.
Following the suggestions from our McMenamins bartender, we searched for the super secretive M Bar. Described to us as a barista by day, bar by night, lit strictly by candle light, super secretive, local bar. We had to find it. As we walked by the building, it looked closed. We looked closer and realized it was definitely what we were looking for. We walked into this tiny spot and all 7 of the guests turned to look at us. You could tell it was a ‘locals spot’ and it was pretty obvious we weren’t familiar faces. This is not to say that they were rude, or unwelcoming, it was just clear that new people don’t come here often. Despite the stares, we made our way to a seat. It turned out to be oddly romantic. We were the outsiders sitting in the dark listening to the chatter of the other patrons. It was a tasteful evening and a perfect start to exploring Portland. We were ready to call it a night when we passed a Trader Joe’s and decided to get some snacks (I know, more food?...but how could we pass up Trader Joe’s!?).
The next day, we were ready to explore further. As I mentioned before, we had heard about Voodoo Doughnuts being a must-taste spot. We also heard about the long lines that would surely greet us, but donuts are always worth the wait. Plus, we had to see if they compared to the delicious Holey Toledough donuts we had at our wedding! We were surprised by how short the line was and barely had enough time to browse the huge variety of craft donuts. I decided to go with an Oreo topped treat and Brooks chose the Fruit Loops. They were delicious and terribly fattening, but definitely worth it. However, we have to admit, Holey Toledough still ranks #1 on our donut loving hearts.
We had lunch at Rogue Brewery where we sampled some more delicious brews and explored the never-ending shelves of Powell’s Bookstore. This is the largest new and used book store in the world with nine color-coded rooms and 3,500 different sections. WOW.
That afternoon, we took a walk up through Washington Park (working off those donuts) where we found the Oregon Holocaust Memorial. We took a quiet moment to read the quotes and stories engraved on the huge stone panels. The serenity of this place was truly enjoyable knowing that we were only minutes away from the busy streets of Portland. We ended the day with Bamboo Sushi, which was absolutely delicious and reasonably priced. I’m still not sure how or why we ate so much food, but we did. And we lived to tell about it.
Our last full day in Portland, a Saturday, was another day for adventure (and, of course, food). We had breakfast of vanilla lattes and delicious granola at Barista, which is definitely a must-return. For lunch, we had to check out the legendary food cart scene. Because who doesn’t love food trucks? (And yes, there is a whole website dedicated to their food carts!) The options were endless and we had to walk around the block several times before making up our minds! We settled on some Chinese cuisine, then we headed to the famous Portland Saturday Market. We found several tented blocks full of talented artists, crafts and tons of gifts that we would have loved to take home with us (that dang 50 pound limit at the airport is killer). There was so much to see, hear and smell! The Portland Saturday Market is a great way to spend a weekend afternoon (it is open on Sunday, too!).
We spent the rest of the day walking through the city, seeing the sights and almost getting lost. We had lunch at Davis Street Tavern and checked out Ground Kontrol, a barcade, around the corner. More walking and exploring ended with an afternoon nap (give us a break, it’s our honeymoon). We had dinner across the street at Fireside Grill and we relaxed into the evening anticipating the San Francisco adventure that was ahead.
Sunday, we hopped a plane to San Francisco. We have never experienced a city like this one. So much city packed into one area. So many different levels of elevation, we could barely wrap our heads around it. Next time your grandparents say they walked uphill to school both ways, ask them if they grew up in San Fran. Because that’s what I imagine it is like. Keep an eye out for our San Francisco Adventures soon! In the meantime, here is the Pacific Ocean.