I haven't visited Portland since I was a kid, so pretty much my entire perception of it and its inhabitants is based off the odd-ball TV show with the eponymous title and the hipster stereotypes that are perpetuated online. I couldn't have been more wrong. Well, mostly wrong. They really do love their brunches.
Another thing I got wrong about the city was thinking that it would be a carbon copy of San Francisco. With the cost of living in the Bay going through the roof, I had heard of a great migration of the youth to Portland, the new Oregon Trail (this time with less death by dysentery). And with this frame of mind, I assumed that parking in Portland would be the same arduous task that it is in the Bay. When I arrived and had a parking space waiting for me right outside my friends building I didn't even allow for the idea that it was possible. I assumed that it was 30min paid parking zone or not a parking zone at all and my car would swiftly be towed away. I walked up and down the street to try and find the totem pole with the litany of parking instructions like you see in California "No parking from 7am-9pm" "No parking 9pm-7am for street cleaning" "Permit parking only"... but no such sign exsisted. Bewildered, I asked a guy doing construction nearby if it was ok to park there and he looked at me as if I had asked if it was ok to breathe the air outside.
As my friends showed me around the town, the lingering preconceptions in my head melted away like a hot knife of reality through the butter of assumption. The people weren't snobish or showy, they were down to earth and friendly. Similarly, the neighborhoods were clean, but not overly sterilized, retaining some funk, and full of people walking and biking everywhere.
The only thing I can say was of any discomfort during my time there were the lines for food. Portlandians LOVE their food. There's so much to choose from all around and yet the there are inevitably lines at all the hot spots. I got a good laugh by driving past the snaking line for a Voodoo Donut. Really, a 2 hour line... for a donut?! Despite the lines for brunch, lunch, dinner, and a donut that evidently cures cancer, most of the spots were worth the wait. And if you're a beer drinker, Portland gives other micro brewery hotspots like San Diego a run for their money.
A big thanks to my hosts and guides while in the city:
Becca, with the beauty and brains to do whatever you want and the focus to know exactly what you want, you're a force to be reckoned with.
Scott and Addie, can't say I've ever met a more lovely couple. You guys are adorable and I admire the way you've been able to mix in travel and play with your busy professional lives, cheers!