Beginner’s Guide to Portland, OR

Beginner’s Guide to Portland, OR

After Austin, I figured that I had to go to the other U.S. city that had the motto of, “Keep _______ weird,” so I went up to Portland, OR with one of my best friends Before deciding to go to Portland, I had never really considered visiting the Pacific Northwest, and I really don’t know how or why I ignored this part of the country, but once I went to Portland, I instantly fell in love with it.

When I went to Portland for the first time in July 2016, I was still recovering from my stress fracture, so I wasn’t very mobile. Despite this setback, Portland is an easy city to get around without having to do too much walking. There is a train system, Lyft and Uber are there, and there are trolleys that can take you around different tourist areas within the city. We stayed at an Airbnb in Historic Kenton Area and it was a nice part of town. It was close to a MAX train stop and there was a little area that had a few shops and restaurants.

Day #1

To start off our first full day in Portland, we went to Cup and Saucer for breakfast and I got French Toast- it was perfection. My favorite way to start off the day is with a delicious breakfast that usually consists of comfort food, and French toast is that for me.

Once we finished, we took the train to Downtown Portland, and headed over to the meeting spot for the Pink Trolley. This trolley takes you all around the city and to a lot of the main tourist attractions, and it was an affordable way to see a lot of different parts of the city without walking. The two stops that we spent the most time in were the Rose Garden and the Arboretum. Both areas are beautiful and I loved being outdoors and just being able to explore a little- not being able to walk for three months really makes you appreciate the outdoors.

Once we finished with the trolley tour, we headed over to the Pearl District and went to Powell’s bookstore- this was heaven for me. I LOVEEE books, and I just loved being in a bookstore that was so historic and has such a variety of books in it.

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After a long day of exploring, we headed over to The Hairy Lobster for dinner. We started off with beers because you have to try local beers when traveling and the Parker House Rolls with lavender whipped honey butter. For dinner, I got the caramelized lamb served over potatoes and sweet potato mash, and it was delicious. However, for the price, I was a bit surprised at how small my meal was, but it was okay because we were heading over to Salt and Straw for dessert.

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We all know that I have an obsession with Salt and Straw in LA, so it’s no surprise that I had to go to one of the original locations in Portland. When we arrived at Salt and Straw the line wasn’t horrible- at least in comparison to the location I go to in LA, so we decided to wait. As we got closer and closer to the door, I got more and more excited. The décor in the shop was very different from LA, so I really enjoyed that. Since I knew that Portland has some different flavors than LA, I knew I had to try at least one of the local flavors. I got the Stumptown and Burnside Bourbon and Cinnamon Snickerdoodle in a waffle cone- this was a splurge because I usually just get a cup!

Day #2

The next day for breakfast we wanted to try a local donut place, but since I had already been to Voodo Donuts we decided to go to Blue Star.  We got four donuts including: real maple bacon, The O.G., chocolate almond ganache, and a blueberry bourbon basil. All the donuts were DELICIOUS! I LOVED the donuts! I think it was the fact that they weren’t greasy and the flavors were unique that helped a lot. To go with the donuts, I got a carton of Stumptown coffee with milk – best breakfast combination ever!

After breakfast, we walked over to a cute Saturday market near the water. There were a lot of unique and eclectic sellers, which made it easier to find some cool gifts for people! We spent a few hours meandering around the market and then decided it was time for lunch.

We went to Deschutes Brewery for lunch, and I really enjoyed it. My friend and I split a sampler of the different Deschutes, and I really enjoyed most of the different beers. To eat I got the chicken wings, and I thought that they were perfect. It was definitely more of a unique type of chicken wings, but I enjoyed them.

After lunch, we were signed up for a brewcycle tour of Portland. The tour we picked was the Old Town tour and we went to PINTs Brewing, Old Town Brewing, and Fat Head’s Brewing. I thought it was fun way to see the city and we got to explore different parts that we hadn’t visited thus far. I really enjoyed trying new beers and touring the city, so I highly recommend this as a way to explore any city!

After the tour we headed to dinner, and we decided on sushi! We went to a sushi restaurant in the Pearl District right near The Hairy Lobster called Yama Sushi and Sake Bar. I ordered the love joy roll and my friend got a cucumber roll and the sunrise roll. We both thought the food was really good and there wasn’t a super long line for anything which is always a perk. Once we finished dinner we went back to the Airbnb, so we could both pack up because we were leaving the next day.

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Day #3

For my final meal in Portland, the next day, I went back to Cup and Saucer and I got a chai latte and a quiche. Everything was delicious and I need to go back sometime!

 

I loved Portland so much, that I ended up coming back a few months later! That blog post will be up soon 🙂

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Beginner’s Guide to Austin, TX and Oklahoma City, OK

Beginner’s Guide to Austin, TX and Oklahoma City, OK

When I started looking at all of the places I have left to travel to I realized that I haven’t been to the Southern States, and I decided to ease myself into venturing to this new area of the country by visiting one of my best friends in Oklahoma City (OKC). I had already been to OKC before, but that was two years ago, and a lot can change in two years. We figured out that neither of us had been to Austin, TX (ATX), so we decided that I would fly to OKC and then we would road trip down to ATX. I’ve always liked road trips, and then it allows you to hang out with a friend and see new parts of the country.

Day 1
When we first arrived in Austin, we checked into our Airbnb- I think that Airbnb’s are a great way to see a city and interact with local residents. After we settled in we headed over to Uchi, for a delicious sushi dinner. We started off the meal with drinks and for our main course we decided to get the signature tasting option- it is five courses which is a good amount split between two people. This allowed us to try a lot of different things. To start off we tried was the Hirame Usuzukuri, which is flounder with candied quinoa, and olive oil. The second course was the Machi Cure, which is smoked yellowtail, yucca crisp, marcona almond, and Asian pear. For the next course, we had the Maguro & Goat Cheese, which is one of the most unique sushi dishes that I have ever had. Then we had the Hamachi Nabe, which is yellowtail, koshihikari rice, soy broth, and an egg yolk. To conclude our dining experience, we had the Walu Walu which is oak-grilled escolar, yuzupon, candied citrus, and myoga. The food was delicious, well prepared, and truly unique. I think that Uchi has some of the best sushi I have ever had, and the unique dishes makes it worth the price.

After dinner, we went back to our Airbnb to relax and plan for the next day.

Day 2
To start off the day we had a relaxing morning and a quick breakfast and then headed downtown to the Austin Visitors Center. We walked around the center and got to learn more about the city, and then we boarded a bus for the Austin in 90 minutes tour. Some things that you see on the guided bus tour are the 360 Scenic Overlook, Graffiti Park at Castle Hills, Bullock Texas State History Museum, and UT- Austin.

Later on, in the day we had an early dinner and did a Bat Cruise. Fun Fact: The Congress Avenue Bridge is home to the largest urban bat colony in the world. During the Bat cruise you get to experience all of the bats leaving the bridge to go find dinner as the sun sets. It is possibly one of the coolest thing you’ll experience in Austin and I would never have guessed that so many bats could fit under the bridge!

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After the cruise we headed to the “Dirty Sixth” or 6th street to go listen to some live music and enjoy a drink. Eventually we wanted a snack so we decided to head to Voodoo Doughnut Austin, and I got a Maple Bacon donut. It was tasty, and I was excited to try Voodoo because it is originally from Portland, OR and I was going there in a few weeks, so it was like a mini preview of Portland.

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Day 3
After our long day 2, we decided to sleep in a little and then grab breakfast at Whole Foods. Now I know that sounds funny, but considering that Whole Foods was founded in Austin and the original location has a lot of eateries, so we figured it was a good way to see the store and grab breakfast. I went to Taco Alley and got a breakfast burrito and it was divine.

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The next activity for the day was to go on the Deep Eddy Distillery tour. We got the tickets that have the shuttle to and from, so we avoided drinking and driving. The ticket is $25, and it included the round-trip shuttle ride, the tour, a cocktail and 20% off all merchandise. I really enjoyed learning about how they make their vodka and eating and drinking after the tour. They have some food trucks there, so you can get snacks while drinking and I obviously had to get BBQ. It is definitely a fun place to go, and it would be a great place to spend an afternoon with friends.

Once we got back to downtown Austin, we headed to the Roaring Fork for dinner. I got the Cedar Planked Salmon- its oven roasted with Teriyaki BBQ sauce and a Chilled Green Bean Salad. It was the perfect meal after spending a lot of time outside in the heat.

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After dinner we headed back to the Airbnb to hang out and go to bed early. Since we were heading back to OKC early in the morning to beat traffic.

Day 4
After a 4-hour drive, we arrived back in OKC and it felt great to get out of the car. We relaxed, ate dinner, and then we went to the OKCLA game (OKCLA is the minor league team for the Los Angeles Dodgers). I love baseball, so it was fun to get to see a good minor league team play.

Day 5
After a good night’s sleep, we woke up and went to breakfast at The Red Cup. I got a Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich and a Chai tea to drink. It was the perfect breakfast for a hot day. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant and all of the art.

After breakfast we took a water taxi ride around downtown and we got to see some murals and sculptures.

For lunch we went to Big Truck Tacos, and it was amazing! I got the Okie-Wahoo and Rita’s Chicken Tacos. It’s an affordable and delicious place- highly recommend if you’re ever in OKC!

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Once we were done eating, then it was time for me to head to the airport and go back to LA. It was a great trip to Austin and OKC, and I definitely want to return to both cities.

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