My wife’s birthday was over the weekend and she decided that she wanted to have an adventure, so, with three other friends, she and I decided to fly up to Portland, Oregon for the weekend and have that adventure. I’ve driven through Portland plenty of times and before this weekend the most amount of time I’d spent in Portland once was trying to find a bathroom on our way up to being nerds in the woods of Washington. We flew back last night and I really enjoyed myself.

Here are some of my thoughts:

The weather in Portland was a balmy three to eight degrees Celsius through our Wednesday to Sunday stay and the cold was a little surprising (hey, I’m from California, what do you expect). Jeans, shirt, gloves, coat, and scarf were the order for the day, sometimes with my hat if I thought it was really bad. The sky went from mostly cloudy to clear to cloudy again while we were in the city although it cleared up on Friday when we went out to Tillamook to get some awesome cheese and ice cream. The one and only time it rained we were safely tucked away having tea.

The hipster subculture is alive and well in Portland to an almost disturbing degree. Most of the twenty-somethings or thirty year-olds I saw were…I’d normally say “rocking” here but if there’s one thing I don’t think hipsters do is rock, anyway, were very enthusiastic in their hipster-ness. One thing I noticed were the number of women I saw with very, very, very obvious tattoos on them; I’m talking full tattoos across their upper chest/collar bones, along their necks and behind their ears. I’m not opposed to ink, I happen to like it quite a lot, but it was just interesting and something very different from where I live in the Bay Area.

The food in Portland was almost universally great. We had breakfast multiple times at The Original Dinerant (not a misspelling that) and I really liked it. Three dinners were at an Italian place Ristorante Roma, a small and quiet restaurant with some really awesome food, Tasty n Alder, a small plates restaurant with an original and changing menu that was fun to order from (we more or less tried a little of everything and it was good enough that I ate and enjoyed brussel sprouts, something that left my wife’s mouth hanging open in shock), and El Gaucho, a very swanky steak house that had amazing service and incredible food. Their sommelier Corey was a really nice guy and took very good care of us.

We took in a few of the sites while we were there. We checked out the Chinese Gardens in Uptown and had tea there (well, to be honest we huddled in the warmth of the tea house and tried a tea flight for two hours before venturing back out into the cold), toured OMSI, visited tunnels that used to be used by people who shanghaied others, visited < Heavenly Chorus> Powell’s Books < /Heavenly Chorus> where I picked up some books and got a little teary (miss you, Kage), and went up to the falls near Multonomah and hiked around.

We also tried doughnuts.

I know people make a big deal about Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland.

Let me just say this about them: whatever. Seriously, whatever. They weren’t that great and I’d be very surprised if they were anything different than our Psycho Doughnuts or any of those other trendy, “look at our doughnuts covered in breakfast cereal, har har, aren’t we creative?” places we have in the Bay Area.

No. If you are a doughnut fan you have to go to Blue Star Doughnuts. Made with good ingredients with some very unique flavor combinations, if Tillamook was the best ice cream I’ve had in recent memory then Blue Star (every last artisanal hipster bit of it) were the best doughnuts I’ve had.

At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed Portland and if you’re looking for a city to go enjoy for a weekend, I’d suggest Portland. Just…don’t drive in the city. The parking can be a nightmare.

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