Love at First Sight: Portland, OR

“Better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times.”

My trip to Portland was spontaneously planned as I was visiting a friend in Tacoma, Washington.  I have watched and read many blogs about Portland, and it has always been on my bucket list as a destination that I must visit.  The image that I had of this city prior to visiting was similar to Asheville, NC.  It also has unique places for pictures and sightseeing.  The city is also a huge flavor town with endless options for food, sweets, and breweries.  I had some plans but the rest was spontaneous.

Morning Road Trip…

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The drive from Tacoma to Portland took approximately 2 hours.  We hit the road at 8 am, so the drive was relaxing without much traffic (until we got closer to the city).  I love road trips, I think it gives travelers the perfect opportunity to talk and listen to one another (I mean if you’re stuck in the car for 2 hours, mind as well talk to each other)  With music playing in the background, my travel buddy and I shared stories of our daily lives. Where we’ve been for the past 3 years.  Where do we want to go next?  Pizza or burgers? Mountains or beaches? New friends vs. old friends?

Our conversation made the drive seems shorter than it was, and before I realized it, we were entering the city of Portland, AKA Silicon Forest.

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Lan Su Chinese Garden, Peace in the Middle of the City. 

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The first place that we visited was the Lan Su Chinese Garden, and I was blown away by this beautiful paradise in the middle of the city.  The ticket was $10 per person, and if you bring your student ID then it is $7.  The garden was easy to navigate for a self-guided tour and they also had pamphlets with detail descriptions of specific locations within the garden.  It took us around an hour to explore the garden as well as taking pictures.  They had a cute little tea house if you are looking to escape the cold or recharge your energy.

My recommendation is to set aside ample time to explore the garden.  There are so many different things for you to look at, such as the designed of the buildings, the handcrafted types of furniture, and of course the flowers that they have.  Since I was visiting the garden in the fall, the garden was full of chrysanthemums, of all shapes, sizes, and colors.  Since chrysanthemums are usually popular in the fall,  I would imagine the may have different flowers for each season.

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Visiting City of Books, The Largest Store in the World.

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A must-see place for me was Powell’s Books.  Known as the City of Books, the place is the biggest used and new bookstore in the world.   I am known as a bookworm, I just love to read and I love to be surrounded by tons and tons of books.  If the smell of new books comes in the form of scented candles, I will buy them in bulk.  The store has a lot of different sections, from young adults, manga, gardening, traveling, etc, and trust me when I say you will find a corner that suits your preference.  If you are not into books, they also have stationaries, gifts, t-shirts, etc. for you to look at.

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Casting the VooDoo Spells.

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When I was doing my research for Portland, I came across multiple blogs that talked about VooDoo Doughnut.  Even my buddy was excited about visiting the shop, but prior to going, he warned me that the wait can sometimes be 1-2 hours long.  Lucky for us there wasn’t a long line by the time we came, and even if it was a long line, the doughnuts were so worth it.  There were a lot of different kinds to choose from, it is pretty much doughnuts heaven.  If you have a bad sweet tooth, then this place is perfect for you.  From oreo doughnuts, fruit loops, sprinkles, chocolate, basically anything you can imagine.

Taking it slow at Portland Saturday Market

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If you are visiting Portland during the weekend, I highly recommend you stopping at the Saturday Market.  The place was filled with cute little pop-up stalls, selling handmade items by local artists, making them perfect souvenirs for friends and family.  They also have endless options of foods with lines of food stalls, you can find gyro, Japanese noodles, elephant ears, tamales, and even gourmet popcorns.

My recommendation is to come on an empty stomach and bring a friend.  There are so many different options to choose from and I guarantee that you will want to try a little bit of everything.

Hole in the Wall Restaurant?

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I stumbled across this restaurant by pure accident, and man it was such a nice discovery.  The restaurant served up some serious flavor with whole roasted duck, BBQ pork, whole roasted pork, wonton, etc.  I had major food coma after leaving this place, we got a huge bowl of noodles topped with duck, pork and wonton.  My buddy and I shared the bowl and we couldn’t even finish (I regret not finishing it :< ).  

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer “

We spent almost the entire day in Portland before heading back to Tacoma.  It was my first time visiting Portland, but the city already has my heart.  The people were so nice and welcoming.  The atmosphere was a perfect combination of hustles and layback.  It was filled with endless unique corners that gave me so many creative inspirations.  And I cannot till the next time I can come back to this beautiful city that I fell in love with at first sight.  After coming back home from the trip, I’ve been looking for job opportunities out there.  Something inside of me just clicked, and the city has inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone and explore the world around me.

Thank you for reading ^.^

Linh

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