Location: Portland, Oregon
Length of Trip: Five days (April 2014)
Purpose of Trip: A bit of work, a bit of play
Method of Transportation: Airplane
Food: Although Portland has a lot of great food, we didn’t really do a good job of finding excellent places to eat. The only note-worthy place we went to was Hungry Tiger, a bar/restaurant that had great vegan/vegetarian food… but also serves meat. Perfect for me and my non-vegetarian partner. The place is a bit dingy in a quirky kind of way, but don’t be turned off – the food is really good! I’d also suggest checking out some food carts. I’d recommend the El Pilon food cart if you’re looking for Colombian-style arepas and empanadas (which of course I was).
We also made our way to the famous Voodoo Doughnuts. It’s open 24/7 and there is a line-up 24/7. I’m only slightly exaggerating about the line-up. Go on a weekday for a shorter wait.
Accommodations: We stayed at the Embassy Suites the first half of the trip, and then switched to the Crowne Plaza for the last two nights. The Embassy Suites was in the main ‘downtown’ area of Portland and was the location of the conference I was attending. You could walk to lots of great restaurants (and food carts), stores, and the waterfront park. If you can get this hotel for a reasonable rate (it was $149 a night with the special conference rate), I’d recommend it. The Crowne Plaza we stayed at was in the North-East section of the city. There wasn’t much to see or do around the hotel and any decent restaurants were a long walk away, but it was less expensive and a quick walk to get to public transportation. Overall I’d recommend staying in the downtown, but if you can find a significantly cheaper hotel that’s near public transportation, do it. A day pass for public transportation (MAX rail, bus, or streetcar) is only $5.
Powell’s City of Books: An independent bookstore that fills a whole city block. Fun store and I love that they interfile their new and used books.
Bicycles: We rented bikes from Cycle Portland and biked a loop around the Willamette River. Beautiful ride, but not as straightforward as you might think. We ended up on the road a few times when we couldn’t find the bike path.
Washington Park: A nice park not far from downtown – we took the MAX rail and it was easy to get to. We also checked out the Japanese Gardens while we were there, but with a $9.50 admission, I’d say it’s not really worth it.
Aerial Tram: A great way to get a nice view of the entire city and it’s only $4 round trip. It’s not really meant to be a ‘ride’ (it’s actually transportation for people to get up and down the hill), but if you’re from out of town it’s a simple and inexpensive thing to do. And you can get to it from a streetcar, which only costs $1. For $5, it’s a pretty great way to see some of the city.