Final evening… And goodnight.

Things Portland seems to do a lot of: vegan food, pet grooming, vintage, coffee, yoga, ice cream, third eye/crystal stuff, tattoos, cannabis (legal here), bowls, donuts, things made from wood … and lots of combinations of the above – would not be surprised to see a vegan yoga cannabis session for deco dogs (but there would probably be a queue).

Dinner at a food court on SE Clinton. Lots of these scattered all over the city and the quality is really high. For less than £8 you can have an enormous bowlful of the cuisine of virtually any nationality, or have it packaged in hand-held formats such as waffles, pizza, wraps etc. Then sit in the communal table area and people watch. Because each cart specialises very specifically, and are in competition with each other, all are excellent at what they do. I settled for a Garden Monsters salad. Good to get there early, as very popular (& as previously mentioned, Portlanders do not mind queuing for something they really like).

Division Wines: the bartender remembered what I drank last time. So stopped in for my last glass of local wine. Playing The Pixies. Nuff said.

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Portobello, furniture, neighbourhood

One advantage of solo travel, you can usually get a seat at the bar at popular restaurants. Jumped the queue at Portobello last night for a fantastic all vegan modern Italian meal. Sat next to a vegan realtor called Alan, visiting with his wife from California. Excellent bar tending and service. Mushroom ravioli was perfect.

Hawthorne Vintage has the most amazing selection of mid century modern furniture and homewares. Just as well I can’t transport any of it home – Blank Rabbit has picked out his bar stool.

Last morning spent wandering the neighbourhood, picking out potential hutches to put the furniture in.

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Pip’s + urban exploring

Started the day meeting Briar Levit – local graphic designer and professor. Thanks to her, I have also met (& fallen in love with) Pip’s Original mini Donuts and chai. People queue for these (they also queue for good ice cream), but I must admit that they are worth waiting for, luckily we got there early enough and the wait was not too long. Nice to have a proper conversation too.

A wander around a few vintage shops at E Burnside near the river, then walked over the bridge to Downtown. Dropped in on the Cascade AIDS Project – a nice bunch of people, as you would expect. Next a walk to the north west of the city, which is a bit more like Clapham. Starting to tire a little of shops selling cute forest-themed little notepads, coasters, bags, jewellery, knicks knacks… Although I have taken advantage by starting some early Xmas shopping, but only when the goods are well-crafted, locally made or unique.

When did succulents become a ‘thing’? I started growing them in my window boxes a few years ago now, just because nothing else seemed to survive the combination of winter and summer weather exposure. But now they are everywhere – on trendy restaurant tables and for sale in a variety of artisan ceramic receptacles…. Anyway, nice to have the time to think such idle thoughts in a bar on NW 23rd Avenue, the kind of place where the windows disappear in summer to open the space onto the street and the inside becomes outside, but not the hot dirty outside. It’s Happy Hour, so trying my best to comply.

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A Cooler Day…

Bus Downtown and out again to Mississippi Avenue. Reclamation stores, independent publishers, bookshops, vintage, outdoor supplies, fair trade etc. Caught another film matinee, this time at the Downtown Living Room Theater. Documentary ‘Tickled’ – so much more interesting that it might sound. A NZ reporter gets involved in a slightly sinister world of tickling fetish websites and a trail that leads back to one source… recommended!

Then enjoyed late afternoon sunshine in the Lan Su Chinese Garden. Only a block square in the heart of the city, but beautifully designed vistas and quiet spaces. Now been to Chinese/Japanese gardens in Vancouver, Sydney, Seattle etc Strange that there is not a sizeable one in London? (Holland and Regents Parks have small Japanese ones).  Think I would get membership if there was as they are such a good places to de-stress and recalibrate.

Quick (& cheap) bowl supper at Yumm Cafe. It was. Then back to Division Wines in the evening (just love the vibe here) to have a glass at the bar.

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Division & E Burnside

A leisurely Sunday morning stroll along Division. Neighbourhood bike day meant that a lot of smaller roads were blocked off to cars and there was a good atmosphere with stewards guiding traffic and whole throngs of cyclists out in force, family groups, fancy dress, yard sales etc.

Then up to E Burnside for late brunch at City State Diner: first eggs in Portland – scrambled with caramelised onions and hash brown style potatoes. A number of old and independent cinemas/theatres in various neighbourhoods here in Portland. Saw ‘Swiss Army Man’ at the Laurelhurst, A lovely old deco space serving pizza and a variety of brews, shelves conveniently running along the back of the rows of seats to put glasses etc on. Only $3 for a matinee – bargain! Film was interesting – too many false endings, but a provocative premise and strong acting from Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano (who I have liked in everything I’ve ever seen him in?)

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Nature Day

Even hotter, so sought out shade and breeze at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. Another quiet spot overlooking lakes (on the other side of which is a golf course). A few birds I couldn’t identify, but many varieties of ducks, plus hummingbirds, squirrels, dragonflies. But most unexpectedly, I spent an hour on my own watching an adult and junior coypu, feeding and grooming, in and out of the lake. Junior even got quite close (see edge of foot in photo).

Recklessly decided to seek out more nature by moving on to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. Misjudged scale again and ended up on a much longer walk than I was planning on for such a hot day. The woodland part was fine, but in order to exit their seemed to be only one trail that was edged by a freeway and cement works on one side, river on the other. No going back! Glad I did have sun cream and water bottle, but felt like a bit of an endurance test. So happy to finally reach roads where I could work out where I was and catch a bus.

Once back at the Evermore and showered, I felt I had earned a drink! Tried local wine tasting bar, Division Wines, which was lovely and just what I needed. Friendly but laid back staff and locals, great local wines: Rose: Cameron, Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Oregan 2014. J Christopher Sauvignon Blanc Williamette Valley Oregon 2014 (will probably never see these anywhere else ever again!). Also small tasty plates; caprese salad, olives, bread etc. Perfect.


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Vintage Browsing

Lots of vintage shops to choose from, but variable quality: some that look as if a house clearance skip has been emptied out onto the floor, others where more curation has taken place. But fun browsing… A day of urban flâneurism, taking in Hawthorne and Powell’s Books (biggest bookshop. Ever.

Hot again, so a good excuse to end the trip back at Fifty Licks ice cream shop. So many tempting flavours, but behind a group of bears in the queue, which may have swayed my choice to Caramalised Honey, which was amazing.

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Tender Loving Empire

This shop is soooo Portland (put a bird on it!); cute things made out of wood, or felt or leather etc. Honey bees and bears. Prints, t-shirts, crafted souvenirs. And it’s a record shop, and label, with listening post iPad and turntable. Lots of wood. A nice place to while away some time.

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Art and about

Portland key words: bridges, vegan, roses, gluten-free, trees, truffle fries, Tibet, cider, tattoos, rice bowls, multi-coloured hair, brew.

A day spent in the air conditioned calm of Portland Art Museum. Native American contemporary fashion exhibition, Sister Corita Kent screen prints, North Western contemporary art, William Wegman photography and more…

Followed by lovely ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’ cocktail and vegan bowl, listening to Iggy Pop at Dots cafe.


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Portland counterpoint

After first full day in Portland, I cannot imagine a bigger contrast to central Chicago. Staying in a cute neighbourhood a short bus ride from downtown. Loaded a 7 day transport pass onto my phone with ease and spoilt for choice for recycled furniture, proper coffee and independent shops and bars. Hove folks will be pleased to know that people here also thank their bus drivers on disembarking. Downtown is not that pretty architecturally, but small and navigable. Weather is getting even hotter, so headed to Washington Park for shade. Did not realise from the map that a) it’s on an enormous hill and b) it’s huge (chatting to a park employee at the bus stop, found out that it continues into real forest for miles in the west). After a bit of aimless wandering amidst the beautiful pine trees, I got the shuttle bus which tours the whole site, and very glad I did so. Walking to the Japanese Garden would not have been an option without walking boots, supplies and stamina! But still would have been worth it. A gorgeous tranquil spot. Beautiful varieties of trees and gently trickling streams. BR practised his mindfulness techniques… Then tram/bus back for a well earned drink on our little porch in the late evening sun.

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