It was my birthday last Friday. Usually, David and I contrive to be overseas during our birthdays, which coincide with some beautiful travel times (mine in fall, his in spring, in April) and are also just far enough apart that we can manage to maintain our finances enough to splurge on two big trips a year. This year, though, school got in the way. I haven’t been in school in over seven years, so this was a bit of a stressful change. Thus we moved up our trip to the end of September so I could go into the fall term without worrying about missed classes or doing school work on my vacation (yech).
However, I still wanted to be somewhere else on my birthday. The perks of being an airline employee are that, pretty much, the world is your oyster. But, terms and conditions apply, and the rest of the traveling public wasn’t being cooperative… and we ended up driving 3 hours south to Portland, Oregon with our friends Jessica and Rich.
You learn a lot about people when you travel with them. Then again, you just learn a lot in general. For instance, I learned that using wine in a drinking game is a supremely bad idea. And that in your late twenties, you don’t necessarily have the alcohol tolerance that you had on the earlier side of the decade. And that it is really astonishing, amazing and wonderful when your romantic partner is also your perfect travel companion, and that if David and I had different travel styles, our relationship would be in danger given how important traveling is for both of us.
We also learned that Portland, Oregon is possibly a foodie’s heaven.
Here’s a short recap of my weekend:
Friday evening: Drive to Portland, dinner at McMenamins Ringlers Pub, chill at the hotel (Park Lane Inn and Suites) and play kings
Saturday: Hangover. Brunch (if you can call it brunch at 2 PM) at Cheryl’s on 12th, book heaven at Powell’s, snack at PINTS, fun times at Ground Kontrol, food truck dinner
Sunday: Brunch (legit this time) at City State Diner, some driving around town, a little tax-free shopping (no sales tax in Oregon woot!), McMenamins Kennedy School, drive home
Notice how our days were mostly food and drinking? Yes, we love food. Yes, we love pubs and taverns and establishments that serve alcohol. And yes, Portland has a LOT of both. Obviously, the city has more to offer than that, notably a variety of gardens and parks that were less than ideal for us to enjoy given the temperamental fall weather of the Pacific Northwest.
McMenamin’s is a brewery that is all over the PNW. Particularly in Portland. Apparently, they buy up a lot of older property and turn them into pubs and restaurants and breweries. We ended up at Ringler’s (which is actually part of a larger place called The Crystal Ballroom, where concerts and such are held) simply because it was 10 PM, not many places were open, and this was about a fifteen minute walk from our hotel. The service was a bit spotty but it was happy hour and the prices were pretty good. My birthday dinner was a $4.50 hot dog, which I quite enjoyed. And a fudge brownie a la mode. Also, I hate beer, so I had a cider, which was tasty. But, they did have an offering on tap that I actually enjoyed: the Black Widow! Good stuff, for a beer.
We would’ve stayed and played pool or something, but we realized something crucial: it was very late, and we had NO alcohol of any sort at our hotel. So, we went on an adventure that I won’t recount here, except to say that we made it to Safeway about 5 minutes before they closed and got ourselves some wine and beer. Then we ended up at our hotel and played kings. It was my idea. I regret it, just a little bit.
For those who have not played kings, here is the wiki. There are many many variations, but the simple point is this: to get you really drunk, while having some fun with a deck of cards and your friends. And, yes, learning a bit about them in the process.
Anyway, the next day after we finally got up and somewhat recovered, we had brunch at Cheryl’s on 12th. Really nice place and they had a nice, casual city vibe to the interior. Service was super attentive but also somehow homey, and they had really great tea. We got biscuits and gravy, croque madame, a fried egg sandwich and the corned beef hash. Everything was pretty good but I wouldn’t recommend that last one. That was just weird, it was actually a hash brown with bits of corned beef, not the usual kind of hash that you’re used to. Servings were pretty significant… sharing might be a good idea if you’re not traveling with Rich or someone with an appetite like he does.
Then we went to one of my favorite places in all the world: Powell’s! This is one of the most amazing bookstores ever, and the largest independent one in the world. It’s actually called Powell’s City of Books, and for good reason… the place covers a whole block. If they put a cot in a corner and occasionally fed me, I could live here. Their staff is knowledgeable and they have a mix of new and used stuff, and even some board games and other little items for the less bibliophiliac. I actually spent only about an hour here and bought five books. That was self-control in action, folks.
We checked out PINTS in Old Town. They have a tap room with several beers that probably rotate here and there. I was feeling normal enough to eat, so I had the chicken tenders off the happy hour menu. They were really good. The boys enjoyed the beer as well. There was no cider or hard alcohol on offer, which saddened Jessica since she doesn’t drink beer either. I was perfectly fine with not seeing alcohol again for a while…
My next post will cover the rest of the weekend and other things I learned, ate and drank in Portland!