I’m about to embark on a whirlwind business trip to Europe. The trip was on, off, on again, off again, and now it is most definitely happening. I’ve spent the past week frantically scheduling last minute transportation and lodging for the 16 day journey. I leave for NYC Thursday morning.
As much as I love traveling, I also really enjoy where I live… born and raised in the Pacific Northwest of the USA. About a month ago, blogger friend and just plain old friend friend now, Totally Caroline visited me. Portland is a nice smallish city, but I have never really “done” Portland as a tourist. Once, my mother in law visited before our oldest was born, and wanted to see Portland tourist style. So we did a bunch of things with her that I can barely remember at this point as it was 2+ decades ago. Usually friends who visit have either been here before, or are left to their own devices for touristing activities. The exception to this rule is, Multnomah Falls. Mostly we have taken numerous Japanese guests to the falls.
I have seen Multnomah Falls in every possible type of weather and literally hundreds of times, as my father used to live in Hood River, Oregon, about an hour’s drive up the Columbia Gorge from Portland. On his weekends, we would drive back and forth right past Multnomah Falls (which is about 30 miles east of Portland, and visible from the highway). It is a gorgeous sight, total falls’ height 620 feet with the long drop being 542 feet. It’s a magical sight all year round.
Now, TC is a foodie type of girl, not a nature-y type of girl. So, other than our beach house and a bit of the Oregon Coast (because, Goonies), I didn’t plan any nature stops although Portland and the surrounding area are quite gorgeous.
Before her visit, I asked TC numerous times what she wanted to do. She had a couple things on her must do (read must eat) list, but other than that, she wanted me to show her around. Now, at this point, I know how TC travels. I didn’t want to schedule too much because I knew she would have requests once she arrived. Oh, AND she wanted to see Seattle, too! In exactly one week’s time!!! Doable when food and street art are the focus (not, for example, nature hikes, ocean drives, volcanoes, paddle boarding, kayaking, snow skiing, wind surfing, yada yada yada, just a few of the reasons other people come to the Pacific Northwest).
I scheduled us in Portland Saturday and part of Sunday. Then the beach house the rest of Sunday and all day Monday. Tuesday to Thursday were designated Seattle days, then back to Portland Thursday afternoon through Saturday morning. And it all worked out. We ate a lot, we walked a lot, we (well I) talked a lot. Speaking of talking a lot, TC kept her Portland post pretty succinct because that’s how she rolls. Of course y’all know I have no such restraint. So here goes.
After picking up TC at the airport, we started our day by exploring downtown Portland. It was an absolutely beautiful late summer Saturday and we just started walking. The two places on TC’s must see list were Voodoo Donuts (of course, and which she did by herself because, well, it’s the ultimate touristy thing and most locals don’t step foot in said door of teeny tiny mediocre donut shop) and The original Steven Smith Teamaker shop in Northwest Portland.
The tea shop was lovely and they actually have tea flight tastings. On our long walk through the west side of Portland we passed by the downtown Alder Street Food Carts, the largest of Portland’s dozens of food cart pods.
On our walk around downtown we also ran across plenty of street art because Portland is artsy like that.
We eventually made our way over to the east side of Portland, met up with Blue Eyes, and ate lots of Pok Pok‘s Famous Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings. They really are as tasty and addicting as people say. We have been eating them for years.
After Pok Pok, we introduced TC to Salt & Straw, another iconic Portland foodie invention. She fell in love with the honey lavender ice cream.
On that sweet note, we called it a night.
Sunday morning we headed to a cafe I have been wanting to try ever since I saw it on Yotam Ottolenghi’s Instagram page from his visit to Portland earlier this year. Unfortunately the place was closed for the holiday weekend (not to worry, we made it there later in the week). We then headed to another breakfast favorite, but the line was down the block. Honestly as a child, or even 10 years ago for that matter, I don’t remember so many tourists in Portland other than during Portland Rose Festival Season, end of May, beginning of June. Now the season seems to run from March through October, especially when the weather is good. I blame it on the food carts!
I knew eventually we would need to eat at Blue Star Donuts, so we decided to head there. The line was so freakin’ long. Normally I would not stand in such a long line for donuts, but TC is no normal visitor. She’s a donut freak, so we did, stand in that line and we ordered a lot of donuts.
TC doesn’t actually like filled donuts, so I ate the entire Valrhona chocolate donut myself. Whoa, that was filling! I took a couple nibbles of some of the others and once TC had had her fill, we boxed up the rest for later.
After all that sweetness, a brisk walk was mandatory, so we headed uptown to the International Rose Test Garden
Above: web photo of a very tiny portion of the Rose Garden taken early in the morning, before the hordes of visitors arrive on any given seasonal sunny day. They don’t call Portland The City of Roses for nothing.
Above: my photo taken of the Chris Evert Rose, in honor of the U.S. Open being played while TC was in town (of course I taped it!).
When we’d had our fill of the gorgeous roses, we headed back downtown to The Heathman hotel for a Russian Themed afternoon Tea at Headwaters Restaurant. Russian afternoon tea at The Heathman Hotel
The tea was interesting, like nothing I have ever experienced for afternoon tea, and the Khachapouri, Georgian cheese bread with local honey, was especially delicious. I enjoyed the tea, but wasn’t blown away.
I was actually disappointed that the traditional tea room at The Heathman, where I have enjoyed afternoon tea many times including three years ago, has been modernized. It was so beautiful, before.
After tea we headed to our beach house and had a relaxing evening.
The next day we took a drive to one of the filming locations for The Goonies movie.
We also took a walk to Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach. Another filming location from the movie and one of the most iconic sights in Oregon. It’s really interesting to listen to one of the Park Ranger’s talks about sea life on the Oregon Coast and explore the tide pools at low tide.
After all that nature stuff, we needed chocolate so we stopped in to the Cannon Beach Chocolate Cafe and indulged ourselves.
And the day ended like many days at our beach house, with a gorgeous and colorful sunset.
Part 2 tomorrow.