Last weekend was incredible! I won a ticket to the blog/creative conference The Hello Sessions, so my friend Brittany and I headed to Portland, Oregon for a long weekend. Here are a few things I fell in love with, in no particular order:
1. The creative community. Portland is a haven for creatives, but they don’t just keep it to themselves. I felt an incredible sense of community during The Hello Sessions conference on Friday, but also throughout the city. People were very friendly, and businesses seemed to be very collaborative. For example, Salt & Straw’s ice creams are handmade with candies, chocolates, and other ingredients made by other Portland businesses. You can buy bags of Stumptown Coffee practically everywhere (even in our hotel).
2. The roses. Thursday evening brought unseasonably beautiful weather to Portland, so Brittany and I took advantage of it by visiting the International Rose Test Garden. It felt like walking into Alice in Wonderland, sans the murderous Queen of Hearts. The garden is home to about 600 unique rose varieties in over 8,000 plants, and is the reason Portland is nicknamed the City of Roses.
3. The food. We had some incredible food in Portland, so if you’re a foodie, definitely add this destination to your bucket list. We had delicious baguette sandwiches at Addy’s Sandwich Bar and sampled savory charcuterie and cheese at Olympia Provisions (formerly Olympic Provisions), which I also brought home for Stan.
4. The ice cream. Salt & Straw = best ice cream ever. Really. They’ve been voted among the best ice cream places in the US several times over. They’ve got all kinds of crazy flavors that you’d never think would be good (like Arbequina Olive Oil, made with local olive oil) but are. Enthralled with their Halloween flavors, I had a combo of A Potion of Malicious Delight (Pop Rocks + some kind of fruity jam + all kinds of other amazing weird ingredients) and Chocolate Gooey Brownie (made with Portland’s own Holy Kakow Chocolates). Brittany went for a scoop of Arbequina Olive Oil combined with Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper (yes, that’s all one flavor).
6. China. Visiting Lan Su Chinese Garden felt like visiting the Chinese countryside (or what I imagine it would be like). It’s a soothing atmosphere that takes up a full city block (40,000 square feet) in Chinatown, and makes you forget you’re actually in Portland. Brittany and I toured the garden, dined on delicious Chinese appetizers, and partook in a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. Of course I brought home some tea!
7. The books. I used to work for Borders (and I’m a total bookworm), so bookstores hold a special place in my heart. Naturally, I fell in love with Powell’s City of Books, and Brittany and I wandered amongst the stacks for a good hour or so. I left with J.K. Rowling’s Very Good Lives, her 2008 Harvard commencement address.
8. The cupcakes. I make it a point to try cupcakes everywhere I travel. Happily, we stumbled upon the aptly-named Saint Cupcake (the cupcakes are heavenly) during our Saturday city walk. I had a mini Red Velvet, a mini Salty Captain (chocolate cake with caramel buttercream, a drizzle of caramel sauce, and sprinkling of sea salt), and a full-sized Confetti (vanilla cake topped by vanilla frosting, both mixed with edible confetti). They were all incredible, but the Salty Captain was my favorite.
9. The Saturday (and Sunday) Market. The Portland Saturday Market runs Saturdays and Sundays March through December, and has over 250 local vendors. We found a lot of great souvenirs here!
10. No sales tax! Brittany and I kept forgetting there’s no sales tax in Oregon, and whenever we remembered, we were so giddy! No more odd dollar amounts or pennies to deal with. It was pretty great.
After seeing the shopping bags I was lugging around with me, one of the employees at Saint Cupcake remarked on how we’ve hit all the great Portland spots! The only thing we didn’t cross off our list was eating at Pok Pok because the line was over TWO HOURS long. Crazy. But, Brittany discovered there’s one in New York, so we’ll just have to try it a little closer to home.
Where have your travels taken you lately? Where are you itching to go next? I’m headed to New Orleans this weekend!