Portland, and why it’s soooo nice

Last weekend I flew to Portland to see one of my best friends Madison. She is a Portland native that has recently moved back so I decided that was a great reason to go visit. To give you guys a little backstory, I’ve been to Oregon a couple times but never quite made it to Portland. So, every time I would bring up Seattle and how it’s STILL my favorite city in the US, Maddie would always say, “well, you’ve never been to Portland.” Now I have.

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My friend Jo and I landed there on Thursday evening around 10pm and sadly we were to late to make it to the art show they had going on because I quickly learned that Portland is a very sleepy town. After checking in at the Hotel Monaco, we left in search of food as we were both starving. After going to four different restaurants that all said they were open until midnight but quickly told us they were closed at 11pm, when we got there, I was a little peeved at Portland. We finally ended up eating at Paddy’s which we were told had a full menu but when we got there it was nothing more than bar food. Disappointed, tired and still hungry, we bowed our heads and headed back to our lovely, wallpapered hotel room at The Hotel Monaco. Portland had not made a great first impression but hey, tomorrow was a new day! I went to bed having eaten the peanut M&M’s, the buttery popcorn the lovely staff at the Hotel Monaco had left us as a welcome gift and a bottle of Portland white wine.

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Let me take a moment to describe my accommodations because the hotel throughly impressed me. After looking at several hotels, I decided to try out the Hotel Monaco because Kimpton hotels are always so lovely! The staff was so pleasant and accommodating but what was the most impressive were the little personal touches they had all throughout the room. As soon as I walked in, I noticed they had printed out pictures of my two little cats, Smushball and Penelope and put them up on the full sized mirror so I would not miss them as much. That literally brought the biggest smile to my face! I can’t even tell you. Not to mention they took the time to write a cute little note on the bathroom mirror for me. Having worked in hospitality, I know how important it is to make a lasting impression on your guests and make they feel special and they did just that!

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The rooms in the hotel were wonderfully eclectic as well. My room had this beautiful bird wallpaper on the walls throughout the bedroom and sitting area and the bathroom had a green architectural wallpaper that went perfectly with the white, grey and black accents. The shower was all white tile, except in the center it had a beautifully intricate design of roses. This was probably due to Portland being nicknamed “the city of roses.” To go with the assorted decor, the hotel room also had cute miss-matched bathrobes which I thought was a wonderful touch.  Also, because I booked last minute we got a room with a kind bed and pull-out sofa that was very comfortable. Not to mention that you could close the sliding doors that separated the bedroom from the living room and have two separate sleeping areas, each with their own TVs.

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After our breakfast, we went to explore 23rd street and all the quaint little shops there. That’s where we really got a big dose of friendliness. Everywhere we walked in, people wanted to sit and have a full blow conversation with us which is something I’m not quite used to in Los Angeles. We browsed some truly wacky stores and even found a new brand I like called Wills Leather Goods where I bought a bag made from old leather belts that didn’t sell. What I really love about the brand is that they try and not waste and will make items out of the smallest scraps of leather like a pen cover or a key chain. Once our feet started to hurt we got into our rental car and headed to the Kimpton RiverPlace Hotel to grab some lunch. I was advised to go there by one of my friends in LA and I’m glad I listened to her. The hotel was just as adorable as the Hotel Monaco but with a family-friendly flair. Not to say Hotel Monaco is not great for families but if you are going to Portland with your significant other or family I would probably stay at the Kimpton RiverPlace Hotel. If I was going with friends or alone, I think the Hotel Monaco is located downtown more suited for a social type trip. Regardless they are both great and the Kimpton RiverPlace had an amazing lunch spot called Three Degrees which allowed for patio seating with the most beautiful skyline right before our eyes. Jo and I both being avid foodies, we went a little crazy and ordered quite a few different dishes. I wanted to make sure I had a proper hold on the menu before I reported back to you all. We had:  Deviled Eggs,  Hamachi, Dungeness Crab Toast, Smoked Elk Carpaccio, Chipotle BBQ Shrimp, Charred Octopus,  Local Greens, Steak Frites and the  Beer Pickled Beets, Crispy Shallots, Puffed Rice. Although everything was phenomenal and the chef even made me a special plate of pickled veggies  (which I devoured), my favorite was the Elk Carpaccio!!!! It was unreal! To the point that we were completely stuffed and still managed to not waste a single piece. My compliments to the chef!

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The next morning, Jo and I decided to start fresh by going to breakfast at the Imperial restaurant in downtown Portland. I ordered an omelet, potatoes and coffee as I watched the people outside start their day. One thing I loved about Portland is just how nice the people are there. It really is a big city with small town charm. It made me understand the show Portlandia so much more!

 

After lunch we decided to walk our meal off and bummed around the hotel a bit before going on a small, impromptu hike. We ended up  driving around Forest Park, which is such a little gem in the middle of a city and could help ourselves from pulling over and exploring. Our little walk in the woods was so peaceful, as if we had escaped miles out of the city. I definitely recommend a visit if you want a quick dose of nature near downtown Portland. That night we went to meet friends and stopped by these local hangs: Departure at the Nines Hotel, Mississippi street, Cocina Norte, Bar Bar and the Rambler. If you’re in Portland looking to bar hop, I recommend Mississippi Street because its full of bars and great food. You can spend an entire evening there.

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The next day we went to my favorite breakfast spot in Portland called Besaw’s, a restaurant serving American comfort food that had an hour wait so I knew the place must be amazing. I ordered: two eggs any style  with pecan-smoked brisket and roasted potatoes. The brisket was mouth-watering and I would definitely order it again. After breakfast and a parking ticket, we went to Multnomah Falls and stopped along the way at different view points to take in Oregon’s natural beauty before heading to Canon Beach on the coast. Multnomah Falls was so majestic but it was a little disappointing to see just how popular the spot was with tourists. We literally had to wait in line to take photos of the waterfall so that took away from the experience for me. If I was going to go back I would definitely look for hikes that are not so well known and off the beaten path. Unfortunately we only had a couple days to experience Portland. My next time around I would definitely do more nature hikes and explore the woods.

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My favorite part of my trip to Portland, however, was our quick little girl’s trip to Canon Beach. My two friends and I drove there to find the cutest little beach town. The weather was absolutely perfect, no wind, 78 degrees and absolutely breathtaking! The beach had the layer of mist just a couple feet off the ground that made the beach so ominous and unique. I wanted to walk up and down the beach taking in the scene for days. Kids frolicking in the freezing cold water, dogs running on the beach chasing balls, birds circling the haunting rock formations….it was a perfect northwest beach scene straight out the movies. Or that might just be the LA girl in me.

I would love to go back and really explore more of Portland’s nature scene and much more of its beautiful coast.

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