We’re 5 days in, and we have 2 more days to explore the West Coast. We can’t hit Seattle in time, but we know Portland will not disappoint. The road north is beautiful on the coast, but we take some roads inwards to explore the mystical forested area in between San Francisco and Portland. The Redwoods are about, and they do not waiver in making you feel absolutely minute.
Take a detour and go to the Muir Woods National Monument, a preserved park area where there are groves and hiking trails that bring you through the majestic Redwoods. The atmosphere is peaceful and there’s no denying the calmness you experience in this beautiful preservation.
We took another detour and went eastwards to Napa Valley, home of some of the best wine in the country. Being the only person above 21, I treated myself to a wine tasting session in Silver Oaks winery, and got a good afternoon buzz. Some of the Vineyards are especially worth visiting because of their novelty, such as this Castle Vineyard here. A lot of these vineyards are owned and patronized by the extremely wealthy so you can imagine the grandiose nature of the area. I also have to admit, I had some of my better wines here, comparable to my time in Paris and Milan.
We still had a long way to go up to Portland, but in order to make the ride interesting, we took a couple more detours. One of my favorites was the Avenue of Giants, a road that is simply flanked on every side with Redwood trees and amazing nature. There’s a river than runs right by the side with an ecological richness to impress. Roadtrips run the risk of being boring easily when on long stretches, but making efforts like these to explore the coast make it worthwhile.
We reached Oregon but before we headed up to Portland, John kindly offered to host us in his house for the night. Coincidentally, his house also had a lake as a backyard, opening up the opportunity for us to play Lonely Island’s ‘I’m on a Boat’ while on Lake Oswego. Being on land for that long in a car made being on a boat such a pleasure, especially since we got to just chill out and enjoy both each other’s company and the serenity of nature.
We had a bunch of decent meals while on the road, but I wouldn’t be a good travel writer if I left out In N Out from the list of eats. In N Out is the West Coast’s defining fast food franchise, with affordable delicious burgers. The Animal Style Fries is the move to make though, where they top their fries with thousand island dressing style Secret Sauce and grilled onions. You can’t go to California state and not have it.
Portland, proudly weird and unique. It’s a pleasure visiting a city so comfortable with itself and refusing to conform to some form of arbitrary standard of what a ‘modern city’ should be. From strip clubs that offer proper dinner meals to hipster subcultures, Portland is going to surprise you around every corner, and I guess in many ways that’s the story of this city.
Just walking around the various districts is one of the first things I’d recommend. Hawthorne neighborhood is one of the more hipster areas, with a bunch of open air food truck parks, and amazing amazing cafes that serve robust freshly made coffee. It reminds me slightly of Kreuzberg in Berlin, but vastly more American and weird in its own way.
Speaking of food trucks, food truck parks are plentiful throughout the city, providing cheap and fun meals at any time. They’re actually really diverse and you see a lot of international cuisine being authentically offered. The lack of Sales Tax in Portland is an amazing boon, that frees up so much money for more spending. I had some of my best meals in Portland from Food Trucks.
Portland boasts a couple of things, but Powell’s Book Store is on the top of that list most times. Portlanders weirdly enough love to read and this vast bookstore that is perpetually packed is a testament to that. There’s such a diversity in this independent book store, and it’s not hard to find people engrossed in a story sitting between aisles.
Another one of its boasts is its natural backyard and parks. We didn’t have the time to go hiking as much as we’d have liked to, but we did visit the Rose Gardens where they make new strains of roses regularly and essentially liven up the city. The park is a good escape from regular city life and there’s almost no trace of the city other than paced views. Food in Portland is diverse and well rated, but you have to try their donuts. any argue against Voodoo Donuts, but the novelty is worth trying. This outlet has many hilarious and deliciously sweet donuts that redefine the donut experience. The line can get long so give yourself an hour to try and enjoy the vast variety they have. Also make sure to box some of them to take back.
Finally, the craft breweries in Portland. Oh, the craft breweries. The flights in most bars are incredible affordable, and the staff across breweries such as Rogue, 10 Barrel Brewing and Deschutes are more than happy to provide information and recommendations for beers. I had a whole range from fruity beers to IPAs in one day, and walked away pleasantly satisfied.
Portland is an adventure. It catches you by surprise ever so often, and offers you a lifestyle unique to the city. I would love to visit it again.
It took me some time to put together this travelogue. I had a great time with some of my best friends, and while tired at the very end, I experienced such a rich rush of adventures that I felt like I was in my normal state of traveling again. The travel bug feeds on itself in that way, every time you travel to satisfy your craving to travel, you give yourself more reason to travel again.
And that’s completely fine.