Wednesday, April 2, 2014

First Impressions of Portland

I'll admit it, I'm a huge fan of the show Portlandia. In fact, watching the show while I was in Korea gave me great inspiration to move back to America. My choice to live in Seattle was in part not entirely random, because I knew Portland wasn't too far away. Did I have the Portlandia experience?

Above: "The Benson Bubblers" (Since 1912)

The answer is a definite "yes", and sure I didn't run into quirky oddball people all the time, but it definitely fulfilled the ideals I had in mind about the city. To be honest, I didn't really explore the city as much as I would have wanted, so these are just my first impressions.

It had the feel of Humboldt County, California where I spent my community college days. Yet with a bit more urban feel to it. Humboldt had that hippy-hangout feel to it, where people sort of dressed however and prowled around not really doing much here and there. An "artsy" feel to it, too but with a lot of quirkiness. Portland felt the same way and I counted a lot of dreadlocked people like I saw in Humboldt.

But it also had the feel of Seattle, with the neon signs and old buildings. Yet, Seattle seems to be quickly moving towards tearing down their old buildings and putting up modern ones instead. Where as in Portland I felt like that hasn't happened yet.

We stayed in someone's house using Airbnb, the website that let's you book a room or a place that someone who own's the place has listed. This was my first Airbnb experience and I have to say it was all right. I couldn't figure out the shower operation in the bathroom the first night and there were other quarks that seemed fixing. But sleeping in Portland was incredibly comfortable as the city seems to get really quiet at night. Not sure if I was just there during the "off" season, but if I were to move to Portland I would get a lot of sleep.

Food in Portland has a huge reputation and one of those are the food trucks that dot the streets of the downtown area. All the food trucks / carts reminded me of Seoul, actually. And on our way out we stopped at one of the clustered areas of carts and ate our food under some tin roofing while it poured down rain. It felt very similar to Korea.

Otherwise I was astonished at the prices of meals at restaurants in Portland. My waffle breakfast down below cost just about $10.00, while in Seattle something similar would go for probably 12 to 14 bucks!

But Portland also had a lot of International food to offer, like the following Mediterranean place serving up large peaces of warm pita bread.

Overall, what I saw in Portland enticed me to come back as a vacationer and get the full experience. Supposedly they have awesome roses and a Chinese garden worth checking into. So maybe I'll come back this summer and get the "full" Portland experience.

Also the trip was made extra special by seeing a fellow expat from Korea, International Cat Lady...Jane. It was great to catch up on good times in life and share our experiences of teaching and trying to make it in America.

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