I didn’t get it. I had no idea how a city so close to Vancouver, BC (and even closer to Vancouver, Wa) could possibly feel so different. But that was before I spent quality time in Portland.
That city feels like another world because it’s all about the made-in-Portland, designed-in-Portland, brewed-in-Portland, recorded-in-Portland.
And, in some cases, the grown-in-Portland.
Have you been lately? If you haven’t, make Portland your next road trip destination (you can thank me later).
When you’re there you’ll want to start with breakfast at the Farmer’s Market. It’s a beautiful thing. Especially when it consists of a sandwich from Bingo Sandwich, cold-brewed coffee from Cafe Velo and freshly picked raspberries from one of the gazillion vendors who offer them. (My jacket, in case it isn’t obvious from the shoulders, is a vintage piece that’s so light, it’s perfect for cool summer mornings.)
Then hit the road on foot and explore. You could walk forever in that city.
And you could get lost in its one-of-a-kind shops like Jackpot Records, Lulu Vintage or Powell’s Books (I’m not exaggerating about getting lost in Powell’s Books, it’s got so many stairwells going so many different directions I felt like I was trapped in an M.C. Escher drawing).
Doddle around the Portland Design Collective, which is half vintage shop, half local design museum, and all beautiful open airy space with friendly, chatty staff.
Then pick up locally made accessories for you and your home at Tender Loving Empire, which is also a record label.
Then hem and haw over which handcrafted piece to add to your collection at the Portland Saturday Market (which, you’ll be happy to know, is open on Sunday too). While you’re there, get all hopped up on sugar and caffeine with a Cloud Cap Coffee Works Mexican mocha, made with homemade vanilla syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, chocolate and whipped cream. (My crochet jacket and suede shorts are also vintage. Actually, so is my bag. Yeesh. I’m so predictable.)
Then spend your evening in the beer garden of a microbrewery (this one is Amnesia Brewing on Mississippi Avenue in North Portland).
And at that point you’ll probably find yourself planning your next trip to the City of Roses. See you next summer, PDX!
P.S. I joined the cult of Portland and then I wrote an article for the Province.
P.P.S. You’ll find a few of my where-to-stay, what-to-eat picks for Portland on Vitamin Daily.