An Attempt To Explain The Weirdness Of Portland

Portland, Oregon. I was recommended to go here by my good friend Kim. It’s weird she said, so you’re bound to love it, plus there’s a giant book store! Sold I thought and found myself on a bus to investigate!

From Seattle Portland is around a 3-4 hour drive and pretty cheap on the Boltbus if you don’t have a car. It is certainly a unique city, that cherishes it’s quirky edges and colourful buildings.

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The first thing I gathered when I arrived (actually even before I arrived because I spoke to some people on the bus) was that Portlanders are lovely.

From the polite girl who apologised a million times when she bumped into me in the bookstore, to the hostel owner who gave me a free padlock when we had to break into mine (don’t ask), to the chatty old man who told me stories about growing up in the city and thanked me for talking to him at breakfast. Sometimes a bit odd or eccentrically dressed, they seemed a welcoming and friendly bunch that gives Portland it’s spirit.

The second thing I gathered was that this is a hippy city, not hip or hipster but very much hippy:

Hostels have yoga mats, herbal teas and no shoes rules.

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Yoga studios sit next to marijuana shops (which by the way is legal in Oregon and no Mum I didn’t go in ๐Ÿ˜˜)

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In fact these ‘Green Houses’ are EVERYWHERE and I’m pretty sure 80% of the population is stoned, which might explain the chilled vibe of everyone ๐Ÿ˜‚

There are also loads of vintage shops and thrift stores which are pretty neat.

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Mississipi Street in the North East of Portland was great for these and the prices didn’t seem too bad either ๐Ÿ˜†

Oh yeh and everyone rides around on bikes!

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Or in groovy old cars and trucks!

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Nature is worshipped and the city seems very connected with the surrounding landscape.

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Outdoor pursuits are popular, there are parks and trees throughout the streets and recycling is promoted.

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The cherry blossoms were out on my visit and they were delightful.

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Art is another element that can be found anywhere and everywhere

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Leaning more towards the hipster category, Portland has an array of interesting, quirky attractions. Number one on the list being Powell’s Bookstore:

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This is not just any bookstore, this a Portland bookstore and it is a city. Pick a topic, any topic andย  I promise you there will be a book on it, there is just everything!

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I mean just look at this Tolkien collection!!!!

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(FYI there were about 4 more shelves full this was just a fraction of it)

In each section they also had items on sale that had some sort of significance to that genre. For example in the travel section they had travel pillows and maps and things and in the fantasy they had Harry Potter scarves, you can get so much more than just books here!

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Just to point out what I was saying earlier… they also sold yoga mats and the wellbeing genre section was EPIC. Worth noting is that the store does also have a nice cafรจ where you can sit and read any of the books, there are power outlets as well, so quite a handy place for a stop during the day ๐Ÿ˜Š

The next attractions I wanted to mention were the cinemas. There are a fair few around ranging from modern Cineplex’s to old fashioned styled theatres. I went to one called The Living Room where you could order a full on dinner and alcoholic drinks whilst watching your chosen film in comfort!

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Then of course I can’t forget to mention the food trucks!! These bad boys are scattered throughout the city in all shapes and sizes. They vary greatly with what they have to offer, from burgers, to cheese toasties, to vegan wraps and couscous, it doesn’t really matter what one you choose, it’s a Portland tradition you can’t pass up!

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The rest of the food scene is also amazing. Vegan, gluten-free, whole foods, organic and all that jazz is very popular, which means there’s a great variety of fresh and unique recipes being tried out. Brunch is also a big thing in Portland so I had to try a few out, starting at a place called Tin Shed.

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Special of The Day – Scrambled eggs, asparagus, bacon, tomatoe, cheese grits, a potatoe cake and what they call a Buttermilk Biscuit that’s kind of like a savoury scone type thing but not… just try it! It was delicious ๐Ÿ˜

Next up was pancakes at a very hipster resteraunt called Gravy:

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Anyone looking for a new pancake recipe try this: blueberries, pecans and maple syrup. Genius.

Funny/notsofunny story about these pancakes. Shortly after taking this photo I jumped on a bus with my leftovers, picked up the bag of pancakes when I got off… but left my backpack on it. Result – vanishing of said bag, along with money, a new book, my phone charger and a cool Powell’s waterbottle that were inside it… but hey I still had the pancakes at least!! ๐Ÿ˜†

All in all Portland is certainly a unique place to visit, expect rain, smiles, good food and colourful memories. Just don’t leave your bag on the bus! ๐Ÿ™„

J x

24 Hours In Seattle

On my most recent trip to Vancouver in Canada I got slightly distracted and found myself in the United States! I’ve never actually been to America and at a mere 3 hour drive from Van, Seattle just seemed way too tantalisingly close to resist!

So armed with my electronic visa (ESTA) I jumped in the car with some friends and we headed off to Seattle for the weekend!

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Leaving early(ish) Saturday we managed to get through the border and be in the centre of Seattle by midday. Needing to leave at midday on the Sunday this gave us a grand total of 24 hours to cram in as much of Seattle as possible!!

Here’s how we did it…

Step 1. Check into the hostel

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We stayed at a place called The Green Tortoise on Pike Street, directly opposite the famous Pike Street Market. This was the view from the front window of the hostel:

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I mean you don’t get much closer than that! I’m sure if you opened the window you could catch the distinct wiff of fresh fish… but I didn’t.

Step 2. Go to Pike Street Market

Being this close it made sense to check out what all the fuss is about. The lively, bustling market has been running for decades and supplies a heady combination of handmade crafts, fresh food, long established eateries and vibrant stalls of flowers.

Directly opposite the market you can also find the first ever Starbucks! This is somewhat of a tourist hotspot and if you want to be one of those to say “I’ve had a coffee at the first ever Starbucks!!” then be prepared to que. When there’s another dozen Starbucks right round the corner and it’s chucking it down with rain we figured this wasn’t a way to spend our precious time, but be my guest, others do it!

Step 3. Have lunch with Tom Hanks

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We stumbled across this place in the market to have lunch calledย Athenian. Advertised as one of the best places to eat fresh fish and with views over the water, we slipped right in got comfortable at the bar.

Surprising to us suddenly a few tourists kept appearing next to us to take photos of this stool (one that I nearly sat on), so here’s us wondering what on earth is so amazing about a stool?? Well it turned out this wasn’t just any stool, it was the same stool that Tom Hanks sat in and the same restaurant where a scene from Sleepless in Seattle was filmed, how about that!

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Just an hour or two into our Seattle adventure and we were already stumbling across its most iconic spots! The salmon was also outstanding ๐Ÿ˜

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Step 4. Put some gum on the Gum Wall

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The wall can be found down Post Alley just left of the market, which also has some pretty cool graffiti and posters down it.

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When you Google the gum wall it does say that it is permanently closed, but when we checked it out it was definitely very much alive and kicking!

As the name suggests it indeed a wall and it has gum on it. Why you may ask is this a major city attraction? I mean it is ALOT of gum….

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You certainly wouldn’t want to lean on it!! There’s probably some famous gum on the wall too but more importantly our gum is now proudly on it. Major Seattle ritual complete!๐Ÿ‘

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Step 5. Go to the EMP Museum

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The EMP Museum is the Experience Music Project Museum and it is the crรจme de la crรจme of museums. I’ve been to my fair share of museums and I’m putting it out there… it may the best I’ve ever been to.

There’s just a crazy amount of unbelievably cool stuff!! Don’t let the music bit in the name fool you, oh no, there’s that and more!

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From the second you pass the lobby and start entering the galleries there’s this giant guitar pillar thingy greeting your way (a quick Google search has kindly informed me that it consists of over 500 instruments, how about that!)

There are three main floors in the museum and numerous interactive, amazingly designed galleries to investigate. They range from video games and sci-fi films, to hello kitty and sound rooms, every section offers something different and exciting.

We started off in the sci-fi section which had some pretty awesome props from films such as Star Wars, Alien and Terminator.

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Then we headed into the horror gallery and spent a good while in there. As a former English and Film student I found this stuff soooooo interesting! There were props from films such as Hostel, Shaun of the Dead and The Blair Witch Project.

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Then there were original manuscripts from Horror kings such as Bram Stoker, as well as screens playing commentaries from famous horror directors talking about their movies, inspirations and the horror genre.

The whole time I was thinking ‘dammit this would have been such a good source for an essay at uni!!’ So I hope you Seattle younglings make the most of it! (Yep realise that made me sound about 90, totally cool with it ๐Ÿ˜‚).

Next up was Fantasy, my FAVOURITE genre!!! To get inside this gallery you had to push open this big fairy tale looking door and then the gallery looked like this…

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It was ace! There was a sleeping dragon next to a night, Sirius Black’s robe from Harry Potter, props from Lord of The Rings (best films ever), Narnia and more. There was more commentary, mainly from George R R Martin which was very interesting, as well as an early edition of The Fellowship of The Ring and letter by Tolkien.

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With it being fantasy land there were also tree sculptures that made up the gallery and certain little tunnels you could climb through. These tunnels may have just been for kids, I may or may not have climbed through them, I may or may not have banged my head on the way out of one… yep defiantly for kids.

The central section of the museum was made up of the Jimmy Hendrix, Nirvana, Guitar Gallery,ย  Hello Kitty and Video Game galleries. The collection of historical guitars that the museum has is amazing!

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To learn more about the musical history that surrounds Seattle and still inspires artists today was truly fantastic.

Unfortunately we didn’t have time to check out all of the museum, you could easily spend an entire day, for one we missed the sound room where you can jam with some instruments yourself! But alas time was precious and we had to move on!

TIP: Green Tortoise Hostel do discount tickets to the EMP Museum so it’s justย  $13 a ticket, bargain!

Step 6. Get a photo of The Space Needle

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Some of you might despair that we didn’t bother going up this iconic Seattle attraction, but precious time that we had it just didn’t seem worth the money.

Step 7. Have cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory

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For some reason I was expecting The Cheesecake Factory to be a little bakery… NOPE! It was huge and also served loads of other food, literally the biggest menu I’ve ever seen in my life! I went very American and got some flavoursome Buffalo Wings followed by The Original cheesecake.

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It really was the most creamy, silkiest cheesecake ever ๐Ÿ˜

Step 8. Find a Hidden Bar

Seattle has some fantastic bars. It was hard to choose one to spend the rest of the evening in! I wanted to find some sort of quirky, maybe speakeasy styled one and we opted for an old styled hidden bar called The Upstairs.

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Think bartenders in braces, a big cocktail and whisky list, sofas, low lighting and a bit of City and Colour blaring out the speakers and you’ve got it!

Step 9. Sleep in Seattle

Yep after a few cocktails I think we all slept pretty well!

Step 10. Have a big fat american breakfast

Waking up at the hostel to the sound of the hustle and bustle of the market outside and gentle guitar notes drifting through was a damn good way to wake up. Our final ours were spent on the hunt for the ultimate breakfast, which we found back at Pike Street Market!

Tummy’s full, alas, it was time to head off, but what a mighty good way to spend 24 hours! Seattle you are one groovy place ๐Ÿ‘Š

J x