I have to start this blog post with a story… In 1986, I signed up for a pen pal through a Disney pen pal exchange. I was matched with a second-grader name Emily. Emily lived in Portland, Oregon, loved her second-grade teacher, and loved spending time with her brother and sister. Emily had the coolest splatter-paint stationery I had ever seen, and being a year older than me, she was really all I admired in 1980s girls. We kept up with actual sticker and puffy paint bedecked pen and paper letters well into high school. Post-high school, email, Friendster, MySpace, and eventually Facebook replaced most of those letters. Fast forward to 2012… I met Emily for the first time in Pennsylvania. We were instant friends, and in some ways I feel like we’ve grown up together. We shared best friend fights, first crushes, first dances, changing schools, going off to college, you name it, through letters. We even shared heart surgery stories. After those first two meetups, Emily moved back to Portland. She got engaged last year and planned a wedding reception in Portland. I had never been to the Pacific Northwest, so I thought I was due for a trip.
Portland is my husband’s favorite city in the US. He had been there a few times on climbing and backpacking trips and had been hoping to bring me out that way for a long time. Within a few minutes of flying in, I just fell in love with the city and the area. The downtown area is just covered in trees, the people are friendly, the food is delicious, the shopping is one of a kind, and it didn’t take me long to feel at home. Here’s a little photo tour of our trip! Portland is definitely on our list of place to visit again.
Haystack Rock, Astoria
Haystack Rock in Astoria, Oregon is in the middle of a beautiful beach. The weather was perfect and everyone at the beach seemed to be having as much fun as we were! Haystack Rock is also the setting of the 1980s classic “The Goonies.”
Fort George Brewery, Astoria
Astoria has a lot of cute stores, restaurants, and a really fantastic brewery. I tried the Working Girl Porter, a coffee porter, at Fort George Brewery. I really love coffee stouts. I also got to enjoy clam chowder and home-smoked salmon dip.
We spent the morning before the wedding reception visiting Multnomah Falls after a delightful brunch with the bride/penpal and her husband. Multnomah Falls is two waterfalls, one is a 500ft drop and the other is about 70ft. It kind of reminds me of the Lord of the Rings. We had so much fun hiking and taking pictures.
This is the bride, Emily, and I taking goofy pictures at the reception. I scored this J.Crew dress on clearance. Between the clearance price, an additional 40% off, and my teacher’s discount, I only spent $21 on it! Emily had such cute little props for the pic and her smile is just adorable. The food was delicious, and we ended up staying out with the wedding party and guests until 2am. I feel like I made so many new friends!
Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument
We spent an entire day on a little road trip to Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument in Washington. That little day trip alone brought my total of US states I’ve visited to 42! Don’t I look excited about it in my pic? Mt St Helens is one of the most amazing and beautiful places I’ve ever visited. Our rental car didn’t do justice to the windy mountain roads, but we did get to roll down the windows and enjoy the grey, fall-like weather.
Before we drove up to the volcano (I can’t believe I’m writing that! How cool!), we stopped by a little roadside stand selling cherries. These light cherries were very tart and delicious. I bet they would have made an amazing cherry pie, but we couldn’t wait to eat them. We also bought some darker, sweeter cherries. The tart ones were my favorite though!
Cafe Broder – Chai tea with cardamom milk
For brunch, we stopped by Cafe Broder in Portland. This place might have one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had. The cardamom milk above came with an oatmeal dish, but I thought it would be delicious in my chai tea. The food at Cafe Broder is all Scandinavian-inspired. My husband enjoyed some ebelskiver pancakes, and I had the amazing plate below.
Cafe Broder – brunch smorgasbord
This picture can’t even capture how amazing this brunch plate was. I swapped out the ham with smoked fish and then couldn’t stop eating the soft boiled egg, fitness bread, Finnish crackers, farmer’s cheese, cucumber salad, granola with honey, and mild Scandinavian cheese slices. I love eating this way – lots of little dishes. I also really enjoy salads with breakfast and brunch. I am definitely a savory breakfast kind of person and loved breakfasts I’ve had in Japan and Poland for this reason. I’m inspired to add cucumber salad to my morning yogurt and walnuts at home…
Dammann Freres tea
This is the only picture I took of a shopping trip we took in Portland. I loved all the little unique shops and souvenirs I bought. Dammann Freres tea is from a French tea company, and I found it at a pop up coffee supply place. We spent nearly thirty minutes talking coffee and tea and coffee machines with the staff. We also made it to my VERY FAVORITE STORE in America: Pharmaca . Pharmaca is an integrative pharmacy based out of Colorado. They have stores out west, and I was so glad we made it to the Portland store. Pharmaca is known for natural beauty products, little eco-friendly gifts, and an amazing selection of essential oils. You can order their essential oils online, and I am so impressed the quality and price of their oils. We also made stops at a Lululemon pop up, Patagonia, Prana, and Paper Source. I could shop in Portland all day!
We found so much good food in Portland! There is an amazing restaurant review and foodie website called Eater. Every year they update their “Heat Map” of cities all over the country. They haven’t let us down yet and we always consult this site whenever we travel. They recommended both Cafe Broder and this restaurant called Boxer Ramen . Boxer Ramen has a delicious okonomiyaki tater tot appetizer. I love okonomiyaki. It’s like a Japanese pizza/omelette. Boxer Ramen really faithfully imitated that okonomiyaki flavor I love. Boxer Ramen’s menu selection seemed great for those who eat pork. There was only one curry ramen dish for vegetarians, so we decided to just pop in for the appetizers. This restaurant is so cute and I’m glad we stopped by.
Boxer Ramen – okonomiyaki tater tots
There you have it! I had a great time in Portland and it’s been especially fun sharing it with all of you!
What’s your favorite US city? What is your favorite store? Have you ever felt at home in a place you’ve never been before?
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