Oregon 2014: The City of Roses – Not a thorn in sight!

As a fair warning, this first entry will NOT be brief, as it is meant to capture not one, but nearly two days of the Oregon Odyssey. I’ve already gotten a scrumptious taste of the city (literally and figuratively, as you’ll see below), and I feel my first 24 hours in Stumptown is definitely worth sharing for your reference.

After an unbelievably smooth travel experience from my PHX gate to the door of my sweet new whip for the week (a Nissan Altima with a black LEATHER interior), I hit the road and high-tailed it to food, in this case found at Andina restaurant in the Pearl district. Now, this place had me at the hostess saying that she’d seat me somewhere special because I “seemed like an awesome person” (I love you), but I was in for even more of a treat than I expected.

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I mean, that chocolate thing came outta nowhere.

With wooden pillars, splashes of spicy Incan reds and oranges, and a big, open square that channels a classic Spanish tapas bar, Andina was a truly great throwback to the amazing times I spent in Peru with my family back in 2010. The place was poppin’ and the servers were like old friends who kept stopping by just to say hi. I solicited advice from one of my servers, Heather, who recommended to me the yyuca rellena (“Peruvian comfort food”) and ceviche. The plates, as suggested by my earlier reference, are small-plate, tapas style and are best made for sharing and tasting. While I’d like to say that I got pretty cozy with the older couple sitting next to me, I was riding solo, which meant these plates were all mine. Both of these dishes were fantastic, with the yuca being my ultimate favorite. But come on, it’s not even fair – it’s made with cheese, and cheese will conquer all.

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You know it’s good if I had to take a bite before taking a picture.

I ended the dining experience by asking my other server, Raul, what he recommended as a dessert item. I ended up going with the chocolate-cake-that-probably-has-a-cool-name-but-I-forgot-because-I’m-silly-and-didn’t-write-it-down. And my, was that that delicious! If you love chocolate, love dark chocolate, and love chocolate in moist cake form, I’d say you’re set for life. Washed down with a toasty cup of Stumptown Coffee, my second love, I’d say the meal ended on a perfect mocha note.

After leaving my Peruvian paradise, I took to the streets to explore a bit before landing at the house I’ll be staying at for the next couple of days. While I didn’t get much time in “the Pearl”, I did hit one scenic spot, Tanner Springs Park.

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Meant to simulate the wetlands that existed in Oregon in the days of old, this little gem delivered way more than I expected when I first entered “parks in Pearl district” on my Apple maps app. You can see the cool, industrial walkway that traverses the marsh, but regrettably I did not capture the rusted, metallic “reeds” on the side. Those were sweet! The best part, though, was perhaps the visual of Fremont Bridge in the background. Overall, it was a pretty stunning cityscape – so much, that you can probably see the embraced couple at the end there if you look closely enough. D’awwww.

I made it around 8:30 to the house I am staying at in the Sellwood-Moreland district. Sellwood’s personality as a cozy, idyllic, and slightly old-fashioned little section makes it an absolutely perfect place to stay. 99% of the houses are beautiful and were probably built in the late 19th- to early 20th centuries. Trees line every road. You’re one scenic bike ride away from either downtown or the east side, which I’ve yet to explore. Better yet, the people I’m staying with are off the charts amazing. As it type away in my comfy room, I feel like I’m undoubtedly in the company of long-time family friends. Did I mention that the first thing I see when I walk out of my room is a series of four Miyazaki film posters?!?? Needless to say, I knew immediately that I hit the jackpot. I ended the evening with a trip (by myself, mind you) to the Oak’s Bottom Public House. Even coming here, it was like saying hi to people I knew. I think this is just how it is here.

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I’ll be brief about today’s downtown excursion, since I’ve failed to be so about everything else. I saddled up in my bike and took the Springwater Corridor to downtown. While I intended to hit downtown for no more than an hour-and-a-half or so, I ended up being there from around 11:00 until 3:30. Most of my time was spent walking around the Saturday Market (that extends through Sunday…why can’t they just call it the “Satunday” market or something, dude?!?) and purchasing things for my friends. I made it a point to at least SEE Voodoo Donuts and Powell’s Books, though I bought nothing from either. The line at Voodoo’s was out of freaking control and I decided that 600+ calories worth of offset to the exercise I’ve achieved today was not worth it. Dang, did they look delish though. Photos were not taken of these, unfortunately, as me getting too close would have caused me to forcibly steal from people’s boxes/hands.

Two words: Eff. That.
Two words: Eff. That.
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New friends from the Corridor!
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Hawthorne Bridge: The Gate to My Destiny

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The coolest things about today thus far were threefold, the first being the lunch I had:

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In ancient times, grease on a napkin signified higher-ranking food choices.

What’s that, you ask? Why, it’s a french toast sandwich from the Brunch Box, which is most likely THE best food concept of our generation! Indeed, anyone who’s a fan of breakfast, quick bites, and a little bit of grease will fall head over heels as I did. They also serve award-winning burgers and you have the option to customize anything you order. Pair any of their selections with their amazing coffee and you’re set!

The second rad thing about today was the happenstance adventure I experienced at the Multnomah County Library. The library itself is a must-see, and I just like books, so when I walked in, my intention was literally to do that: see books. What awaited me was unexpectedly awesome, though, as I happened upon a live opera show on the top floor! Singers from the Portland Opera displayed their skills with emotion and passion and captured the mind of everyone in the place. It was truly spectacular to see, and it inspired me to want to actually go to a show in the near future.

My last stop before heading back was Floating World Comics on Couch Street (LOL, great street name). Walking in here immediately made me even more happy than I was before, as a wall of Adventure Time comics was one of the first things I noticed about the place. I ended up branching out and getting a few random things. While I normally read manga, I wanted to invest in some American literature to get me started. I think I made out nicely!:

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Alas, I made it back home simply to recharge a bit and FINALLY finish this entry.

That being said, tonight will bring plenty more, friends. The evening is extremely young; there is food to eat, people to meet, and things to see. On tonight’s agenda is an electronic music showing at Lightbar, hopefully joined by my gracious hosts! And I promise, I will write about it tonight, and I will take plenty of pictures. Until then, mes amis!

By the way, I’d like to ask my readership if there is anything in particular you would like me to see or document. I’ve gotten a good bit of offline feedback, so hopefully my recounts thus far have not disappointed. Tomorrow will bring a great deal more “outdoor”-type things, but the urban vibes are not to be overlooked. Thanks for reading!

– H

(Note: I apologize for the lack of pictures in here. I am working on a photostream that I can attach so that you guys can get the full sense of what I’m seeing whilst here. For now, I hope you enjoy the few that I did put up!)

Thought of the Day: Don’t be afraid to do stuff alone. It’s like, really, really fun. 

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