Road Trip! – Portland

by Alyssa on October 19, 2012

in Exploration, Restaurant Reviews, Travel

We chose to take the 101 up to Portland and in doing so, we were rewarded with: lengthy views of the ocean, a glimpse of a dolphin or whale in the ocean, redwood forest hugging the road, rivers around almost every bend in the road, golden bear statues flanking each end of an bridge, crossing over many bridges, having our gas pumped for us (so weird! Devin surprised the attendant by tipping him), and finally, a stop to the Tillamook Cheese Factory!

Unfortunately, we arrived at the Tillamook Cheese Factory about 40 minutes before it closed, so we didn’t see very many workers or cheese on our self-guided tour. But the benefit of arriving so late in the day meant that there were no tourists in my way through the sample line! The samples were: squeaky cheese curds, sharp cheddar, garlic white cheddar, and smoked white cheddar.

If we ever visited Portland, I knew I had to go to Voodoo Doughtnuts, and now I had my chance! Having heard of the long lines at Voodoo Doughnut’s main location, I was thrilled to find out we were staying walking distance to¬†Voodoo Doughnuts Too, a smaller and much less-crowded location that serves the same quirky doughnuts.

The Voodoo Doll was almost too cute to eat! Biting into it revealed red raspberry jelly “blood”. It was really sweet and the jelly just pushed the sweetness over the top. I really needed some milk to cut through all the sugar.

Does the bacon look dry to you? Because it was. But considering the alternative would be a really greasy doughnut, I’d rather have the dry bacon because it was delicious. The bacon helped balance out the incredible sweetness of the maple frosting of this Bacon Maple Bar.

Our final doughnut, the Texas Challenge, took us several hours to eat. It is one giant glazed doughnut equivalent to 6 regular-size glazed doughnuts. So we had it sitting in its bag and throughout the day, we’d each take bites. In the end, we couldn’t finish it! It was too much doughnut. This one trip to Voodoo Doughnuts fulfilled our capacity for doughnuts for the entire year. We don’t need anymore doughnuts this year.

As we walked around Portland, we saw these strange fountains along the sidewalk. Sometimes they were in groups of 2 or 4 or just alone. After some research, we learned that these are public drinking fountains! I didn’t actually drink from any of them.

We walked across the Steel Bridge to explore the Pearl District and find dinner.

The Steel Bridge is the only double-deck bridge with independent lifts in the world, which means the upper and lowers decks can be lifted independent of each other without interfering with one another.

This is the view of the Fremont Bridge from the Steel Bridge.

We visited Powell’s City of Books, which is the headquarters of the Powell’s Books company. Powell’s City of Books occupies a full city block, with the technical books filling another bookstore across the street! This place was awesome! It is filled with new and used books for sale and I loved how all the shelves had hand-written book recommendations by employees and visitors! So even though it was massive, there was a personal touch on every shelf.

We located Rogue Brewery, where I had a Chipotle Ale and Devin had a Chatoe Good Chit Pilsner. My Chipotle Ale wasn’t spicy, but had a smoky flavor to it. It went great with the bowl of chili I had!

Our final day in Oregon was, surprise(!), drizzly! And I still didn’t have a jacket! So even with double layers, I wore Devin’s sweater, which I later had to take off because we walked up an enormous hill to get to the International Rose Test Garden. The garden was established during World War I to preserve the different types of roses from the devastation in Europe. I had no idea roses could look so differently from each other, from the way the petals were shaped, to the way the petals spread from the center, and even the way they grew on the stalks. There were some varieties that didn’t even resemble roses! In the end, there were so many roses here that all the colors and shapes just started to blend together in our minds and we couldn’t make out a difference between them. That’s when we determined it was time to seek out lunch!

Thanks to Yelp, we found this great deli called Elephants Delicatessen, which was a veritable delicatessen! It was packed inside and it was immediately clear why: there were pastries and cheeses on display, cold salads being plated, hot soups and paninis made to order to comfort diners from the drizzle outside, ovens baking pizzas, as well as a bar serving cucumber margaritas! While we waited for my Turkey Reuben and Devin’s Ham & Cheese Croissant, we browsed the gelatos in the freezer cases, the flavored salts, and sampled some gorgonzola topped with honey as well as some granola. There was definitely a friendly neighborhood feel to the space, thanks to the communal tables and the dining process, which required ordering at your chosen station, paying at the front register, then clearing your own table, making sure to recycle. My Turkey Reuben had a bit too much sauerkraut compared to the amount of turkey, but the rye bread was warm and toasty, and the Swiss cheese balanced the tang of the Russian dressing, which fueled me for our 3-hour drive to Seattle!

 

Things we loved about Portland: small downtown, not overcrowded downtown, cold (Devin), many bicyclists, walking distance to everything, public transportation seems to run all day and all night, soccer team, seems like a big town rather than a small city, Elephants Delicatessen, hills and trees

Things we did not love about Portland: cold (me), public transportation runs loudly through the night, hipsters, freeway speed is 50 MPH

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kirk October 23, 2012 at 10:29 am

Lovely post Alyssa. Portland is a lovely city.

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2 Alyssa October 24, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Portland was worth the drive! Thanks for checking in even though I’ve been away from the blogosphere!

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3 Mary November 8, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Looks like you had a totally awesome trip! Portland has been on my “to visit” place for awhile, it’s just a matter of finding the time and resources to go visit. Great photos! I especially love the one of the Steel Bridge.

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4 Alyssa November 12, 2012 at 4:19 pm

I was surprised that Portland turned out to be a treasure-trove of delicious food! I knew about famous food sites like VooDoo Doughnuts and the tons of breweries in Portland, but even the places we stopped for quick bites such as Elephants Deli and a place called J Cafe, turned out to be really fresh and delicious. Everything was a hit in Portland! Thanks for visiting, even though I’ve been absent from the blogosphere!

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