Portland is a damp evergreen paradise. The spot is some kind of urban forest wonderful, where the air is fresh like the rain that constantly kisses the ground and the streets are filled with bikers on their way to a farmer’s market. Yes, I loved Portland almost immediately.
The best trips are not about visiting places, they are about visiting people. I didn’t take a red-eye flight to explore Portland, I took an exhausting red-eye flight to visit one of my dearest friends, Autumn. Autumn is more than a dear friend, she’s truly my soulmate. We met five years ago while studying abroad in Brussels, Belgium and become inseparable after a trip to Cologne, Germany where we placed a lock on the magical Hohenzollern Bridge. Since then, we have laughed and danced our way through six countries and five U.S. cities, with each journey better than the last. This Portland exploration was no different.
We kicked off our reunion with a trip to a local karaoke bar, where the scene was loud, wild and fun. My performance included a Prince “Raspberry Beret” tribute and a fierce rendition of Cher’s “Believe.” The celebration started the Portland experience on the right note!
The most important thing to know about visiting Oregon is there’s no sales tax. Let me repeat that. There is no sales tax. Grab those running shoes and forget about your savings account, because it’s literally time to shop till we drop! Portland has awesome thrift stores where items are actually fantastic and cheap. In New York, a shirt at a thrift store costs $125 and I am like, “Um, why are you called a thrift store?” My favorite spot was Artifact where I purchased the cutest fall jacket and dress. I also really loved Crafty Wonderland for unique souvenirs and pug earrings (yes, you read that right). If you’re a bookworm, head to Powell’s Books, the world’s largest independent bookstore.
If you have access to a car, I highly recommend checking out the Oregon coast. The road trip there from Portland is about an hour and a half, with each mile filled with evergreen trees, mystical fog and soulful skies. On the coast, it is a requirement to see Haystack Rock, you know, where The Goonies ending was filmed. The rocks in the water? There ya go. After you snap some pics with a Goonies quote, head to the cutest beach town ever, Cannon Beach. The stores, restaurants and beach houses are adorable, all along a beautiful backdrop. Be sure to drop by the irresistible Sleepy Monk for a tea and sweet treat.
Speaking of treats, I always enjoy eating my way through every place I visit, and Portland did not disappoint. My soulmate, Autumn, is vegan so I enjoyed the local vegan fare with my local vegan gal. Virtuous Pie, a plant-based pizza and ice cream spot, is great for a Portland pie. I liked the Superfunghi pizza, with lots of mushrooms, herbed potatoes and ricotta cheese. For an amazing salad, head to Harlow, a gluten-free, organic vegetarian restaurant with homey décor. I had the Adobe Salad, with kale, black beans, red cabbage and tempeh, mhm still dreaming about it. For non-vegans, enjoy a unique variety of ice cream at Salt & Straw. The ice cream offerings are super fun and inventive, I indulged with scoops of cinnamon snickerdoodle and sweet potato casserole.
Portland is a gem of the Pacific Northwest, a little oasis where you can always find stunning scenery, a crisp breeze and special soulmates.