I like long road trips in theory, in a feel-the-wind-in-my-hair kind of way that I got out of bad country songs, remember-when stories, and Kerouac’s famous novel. In reality, spending a long time on the road (even as a passenger) can be draining. It can be especially draining when you’ve only gotten two hours of sleep because you were at little part-ay the night before and then missed the last bus home. In that case, you just stare at the highway blindly, numbly counting down the minutes until you get to your next destination. But anyway, I digress.
It’s summer and it’s time to pack a few bags and get out of town if even for a little bit. This time, we stopped in Portland while passing through on our way to other cool places, so we didn’t have as much time there as I would have liked. As such, my visit to this city has been a bit of a whirlwind of do-this-cool-thing-fast before moving on to the next part of the journey. Still, this wasn’t my first first visit to the city so I knew just where to go to make sure that the time that I did have here was spent well.
First on my list of places to visit was Powell’s City of Books, the bookstore that is about five floors of awesome. To give you a bit of an idea of just how awesome it is, I’ll just say that they hand out a map to the bookstore. A map to the bookstore so that you do not get lost amid rows and rows of just about any kind of book (and clever literary knickknack!) you can think of. It is the kind of place that will give all you English majors hope that independent bookstores are not on the verge of becoming extinct. Naturally, I felt more than a little overwhelmed and unsure of just where to begin. Check out the rare books or go into literature for some good deals? Buy a cookbook on curries or venture into the surprisingly huge section on pirates, captain’s logs, and sea exploration? That said, I still ended up walking out with the biggest spread of books that I’ve perhaps ever purchased at one time (a book on journalism to help me better understand the nature of what I want to go into, some Faulkner books that I picked up at a good price, a book on women’s fashion throughout the ages, and a book of short stories). Now I just need to find the time to read them all.
Portland is also known to be the unofficial city of food trucks, so I definitely made a point to try try as much of them as I could in a day and a half. In the end, I tried (not all at once, of course) a green curry on rice, an Egyptian gyro, eggplant in spicy sauce, more eggplant and vegetables with labneh (a Mediterranean yogurt dip that tastes almost like cream cheese), these delicious cheesy dumplings, and a massive grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup combo called The Cheesus. Everything that I had ranged from good to blow-your-socks-off-good and they were certainly more affordable than most of the food trucks in Vancouver.
And then I just walked around, snapped photos for the blog, and tried to do my best to soak in the some of the cool atmosphere of the city. While doing precisely that, I saw some people who were doing high-air flips in Pioneer Square. At first I got excited because at first I thought that this was something that you could pay to do (few things make me happier than being able to hang and do flips in the air while attached to a stretchy elastic harness), but was sadly informed that they were actual acrobats practicing routines for an actual acrobat company and my own dream of becoming an aerialist would just have to wait. I was laughed at quite a bit for that one.
So that was it for Portland. As is usually the case with my travels, I never have enough time in any place I visit and always think of things that I would have still liked to do and places I would have still liked to see, if only I had more time. I didn’t get a chance to try out Voodoo Doughnuts (the line was about an hour long each time I passed by!), for example, and I still want to catch a play at the Armory. I will be back again (Fiddler on the Roof is playing in the fall!) and so I’m already looking into my schedule to see when I can next fit in another visit to this city.