Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The City of Roses

I hadn't been to Oregon since I was maybe in high school, and before than even elementary school, but I don't think I'd ever been to Portland. Despite only having about 48 hours in the city (and even less than that, really), I wanted to squeeze in as much as we could (naturally) duirng our quick weekend getaway! 

On our way! 
Our flight out of Long Beach was Saturday morning and we were in Portland and landed about 12:45 pm. We figured that we'd be on a train around 1:30 to get to our hotel, drop our things off, down to the expo to pick up race day essentials and then be on our way to explore PDX and all it had to offer. (Side note: this Portland Bucket List is awesome and I wish we had had more time to do it all!) The city had other plans -- a light rail train derailed somewhere around the exit we had to get off at to get to the hotel. So on the first train, the conductor suggested getting off at one of the main transit centers and catching a bus into downtown (where the expo was). So we're waiting around for the bus - meanwhile, people see me in my Portland Marathon Ambassador shirt and are asking me where to go! - and then a TriMet guy comes out and says "Hey, there's another train, take that one and by the time you'll get near the derailment, it should be clear!" So duh, we do that. 
Mandatory PDX carpet selfie.
Wrong, wrong and so wrong. We got stopped like three stops later and spent half an hour sitting on that train before we gave up and went to go catch another bus. We befriended an older couple who were at least getting us as best around as they knew how. So we caught that bus, transferred to another one and eventually got to downtown before our hotel. We figured we were that far already that we may as well hit the expo (all our luggage in tow) and then fight our way to the hotel. By the time we got to our hotel, checked in and upstairs, it was nearly 5:30 pm. Shenanigans. 

I had mentioned maybe going to the Portland Timbers game that evening, solely because they have one of the most live and tradition-based soccer teams in the country and even though they weren't playing the Galaxy, it'd totally be worth going to, but again... 4 hours later, that was the last thing I wanted. So we hightailed up to the hotel bar for the last 5 minutes of happy hour and spent well over three hours there watching the night's college football games. No complaints - a great bartender, great view of the city from across the river, and drinks. Color me happy. 

Sunday after the race (recap coming later today!) was pretty much all we had for exploring the city. Post-race we headed straight over to Voodoo Doughnuts because, duh, Portland. The line was only about 20 minutes, so we must have caught the last little wave before people really got going after the race - win! The gloriousness and OMG, the gluttony. We ended up with six: the classic sprinkles + vanilla, plain glazed, Oreo + vanilla, Portland Creme, a maple bacon bar and the signature voodoo doll that has a pretzel stake in his chest and oozes raspberry filling when you tear him apart. So. Good. 

After Voodoo, we headed back to the hotel so I could shower and nap and then got our day going. I really wanted to go check out the International Rose Test Garden up in Washington Park.A nice train and bus ride later (seriously, Portland's lightrail system is awesome), we were at the top of the park. 

An amazing view of downtown... and roses on roses on roses! The garden is home to some 550+ varities of roses, some which don't even have names because again, they're test roses! 4.5 acres of some of the most beautiful roses in colors I didn't even know existed. There are no words, but highly recommend you taking a visit here if you get the chance. The garden is supposedly open April - October and is free! 

Could NOT get enough. 
After the garden, we met up with two of my running club friends and their spouses (we were the kids of the group, for sure) and headed over to Blue Star Donuts who was unfortunately sold out of most everything by the time we got there. I've heard that they're "better" and "more gourmet," whatever that means in donut terms). So then we made our way to Deschutes, which is based in Bend but also has a brewery in downtown Portland, for drinks and some snacks (Doug and I were starving). After a tasting flight there and a citrus beer for me, we walked over to the Portland City Grill. Highly recommended by that couple on the bus, and despite being a little dressed down, we got in anyway.

This place is on the 30th floor of the US Bank building and overlooks the entire downtown area and the Williamette River. There are stunning views on clear days of Mount Hood and it's just breathtaking. We got up just in time for the last of the sunset and then got to see all the lights at night, too. I definitely want to go back here if we get the chance, to enjoy either a) a window table or b) a full meal, but note that it's not super cheap ($30-50 per plate). But oh my, the views make it worth it !

And that was that. Monday morning, we were up before the sun to get on the train (with no issues!) to head up to the airport and back home. Short trip, amazing trip, but it's definitely leaving me wanting more! 

What else is on your Portland to-do list?

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