“I can see you living in Portland, Joy,” a friend of mine said the other day.
Well, so can I, and perhaps that’s what got me to revisit Portland in such a short time since the marathon. I needed to investigate further. Explore my desire to possibly move there. After a brief stop at Seattle, I took a train down to Portland. It rained the entire weekend that I was there, but I didn’t mind it one bit. Portland was beautiful with glorious autumn leaves every corner I turned.
Last couple times that I was there, I hung out mostly in downtown and Pearl District. Because the downtown and surrounding districts such as Pearl are so close in distance, in my mind all of them are “downtown.” Even then, it feels much smaller and fabulously more walkable than that of Los Angeles. Portland as a city is metropolitan in every way but with a lot less of the craziness and grittiness of New York or Los Angeles, with Pearl District being rather sterile for a city neighborhood.
While I was running the marathon, something about the area at about mile 11 and 12 stood out. Overall vibe was different. There were more people out on the sidewalks who came out to cheer for the runners. The buildings and shops were artsy, original and charming. It almost felt like Silver Lake of L.A. or Haight/Ashbury of San Francisco. Now that I think about it, it was this neighborhood that made me go back – Northwest District, as I found out later. In fact, it encompasses Pearl too, but the freeway that divides Northwest District in half, somehow makes it feel like Pearl is not really a part of it.
When you look at the map of Portland on Google maps, it boggles the mind to see this huge green area northwest of downtown. A 5,100–acre city-park that is a real woodland with numerous trails and brooks, and abundant wild life lurking about, appropriately named Forest Park. I hadn’t planned for a hike, so I looked very unprepared when I started walking up the wet Lower Macleay trail in my worn-out Converses. Let me point out that the entrance to the Lower Macleay trail is literally a 10 minute walk from Northwest District, which is still considered downtown area. I don’t think I know of any other city where you can access a dense forest on foot right from the edge of its bustling downtown. Do you?
Look at the board on the right. Only in Portland, they serve microbrew at a coffee shop. Hey, a brew’s a brew, and they make them good here.
The best burger that I had this year – Little Big Burger. Try and find a way to get their catsup and fry sauce shipped to you. You will not regret it.
Andina Restaurant. A smart young bartender who concocts amazing cocktails and mans the entire two-floor restaurant’s drink orders was a sight to behold. Go girl! I’ve had better octopus, but Peruvian tapas was definitely different from tapas that I was used to.
I didn’t come back with a definite answer or plans to move. However, I feel recharged, ready to tackle the busy holiday season that my shop is about to be bombarded with. Being in a cold, wet environment and seeing the splendors of autumn colors were so good for my soul. It was a proof to me that there are four seasons to a year, even though right now in Los Angeles, the temperature has already reached 90º. It is November, right? And we are in the northern hemisphere?