Portland sites

Pho Reals

How was your weekend? I hope everyone faired the horrible storms that were happening all over the states this weekend. Oregon missed most of it. I didn’t feel the effects of the earthquake that Seattle felt all the way from Canada, but it was definitely a nasty, rainy weekend. The kind of weekend you want to stay indoors with some hot tea and cozy sweaters, and that’s pretty much what we did.

My brother lives in Philly with his wife and two cats. I had to share an email he sent me about his cats and preparing for Hurricane Sandy: “We filled the bath tub with water because we read it on one of the various advisories in preparation for the hurricane. They recommend doing it to have a surplus of water for washing things and flushing the toilet. Anyway, Claus is obsessed with water and had been sitting on the edge of the tub for the last half hour or so. I heard a splash, skittering, and saw a drenched cat slide across the bedroom floor. We are still laughing. Catching him with a towel was exciting!”ย It made me laugh so hard at the visual! I hope everyone is okay on the East Coast.

My weekend started off great. Michael and I met some friends for dinner on Friday night. It had been too long since we’d seen them. They actually used to work with Michael, so it was fun getting caught up and he got to tell them all about his awesome new job. We met at Pho Oregon. For some reason, I’d been craving pho for weeks–probably just because of the hot, spicy broth. That kind of food is usually what I want when it’s cold and rainy out.

This was Michael’s first time trying Pho, and it was the first time trying this restaurant for all of us. The reviews online said it was one of the best Pho places in Portland. The service was good, the food was delicious, it was really cheap. My only complaint was how bright the lights were there. They could do with dimming them just a tad….

I ordered the beef Pho (nothing too crazy for me). Michael and I also shared some salad rolls with shrimp in them. Even thought I got the small bowl, I still had tons of leftovers, so did Michael. So I combined our leftovers and had them Saturday night for dinner. Pho is very filling.

And of course, I also had lots and lots of tea.

After chatting and eating for a few hours, we went next door to a bar so the three of them could get a beer. I definitely did NOT need any more liquid in my belly. Between the soup, the water, the tea…I was going to be up all night at that rate! I’d forgotten that the weekend before Halloween is usually when people dress up and go out. The bar was packed with people in unique costumes–some particularly frightening.

That guy was actually super nice, despite the terrifying costume! He explained that it was a deer mule pelvis his grandfather had killed 50 years ago and he fashioned it into a mask. Yikes. But cool.

Saturday morning (well, almost afternoon by the time I woke up!), I went to the gym and had a great workout. For a few days this past week my knees had been bothering me again–after 7 days of being pain-free. ๐Ÿ™ It was rather disappointing but I was glad they felt better on Saturday.

Michael and I spent Saturday afternoon exploring the Pittock Mansion. It’s a huge, beautiful old mansion here in Portland that was built for one of the first families that settled here. Henry Pittock was a pioneer and he started The Oregonian newspaper, as well as being on the first team to climb to the top of Mount Hood. He formed the “Mazamas” club that is even more popular today. His wife was also big into women’s rights.

After years and years and they had passed on, the house started to fall apart. There was also a big storm in the 60’s that ruined the roof. The house was going to be demolished but the citizens of Portland raised enough money to buy it and turn it into a museum to conserve their city’s heritage. Thank goodness they did. It’s a marvelous place to visit.

The mansion is high atop a hill overlooking Portland and in nice weather, you can see Mount St. Helens, Mount Hood and Mount Adams. Saturday was a very foggy, misty day so there wasn’t much to see beyond a few feet in front of us.

The house has been restored to it’s original state and all the things inside were from the family. The antiquities are pretty amazing to see. Check out that kitchen!

And the showers were actually pretty frightening:

Doesn’t it look a lot like a medieval torture device?

You tour most of the house. The tour has informational signs in each room describing the Pittock family’s life, plus all the items in the room.

I love the staircase. It’s the most impressive part of the house. It made me imagine the grand balls and events where the people in beautiful clothes walked up and down those marble stairs. (Is anyone else tired of waiting for Downton Abbey to come back on TV??)

And here is something to give you nightmares:

The kids’ room was full of lots of creepy toys. Yikes.

I’ll leave you with a few photos of the beautiful mansion and grounds:

If you ever make it to Portland, the Pittock Mansion is worth a visit. Just seeing the tiny details of how they lived at the turn of the century was fascinating, as was theย opulence. In nice weather, you can hike up to the Mansion from Washington Park and the Rose Gardens.

QUESTION: Does your city have things like this from your settlers?

Portlandia Favorites

Portland is a good city to visit in the summer time. There are tons of fun sights, things to do, restaurants to eat at, and festivals to enjoy.ย  Plus the weather is what really reminds us why it’s worth living here in the Northwest. Here is a guide to all things Portland according to moi.

Best Sights To See

Washington Park/Zoo/Rose Garden: ย You could literally spend all day exploring Washington Park and never seeing everything. The International Rose Garden is absolutely gorgeous. It started in 1889 and is a lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon with a picnic. The Zoo is a fun experience and worth the entry fee. Washington Park has so many trails for hiking and running you’d never be able to do all of them. It’s also free to hang out at the park (even better)!

Forest Park Trails/Hoytย Arboretum: ย Hoyt Arboretum encompasses 187 ridge-top acres, accessible by trails covering 12 miles. All the trails are named after plants and trees and it’s a lovely place to walk/run.

Japanese Gardens:ย Proclaimed the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan, the Portland Japanese Garden is a 5.5-acre haven of tranquil beauty nestled in the scenic west hills of Portland, Oregon. About twice a year they offer free entry to the gardens. It’s well worth fighting the crowd because it’s just so beautiful.

Chinese Gardens
: The Chinese Gardens are a beautiful oasis in the middle of downtown Portland. It’s a nice, peaceful break from the craziness in Chinatown. You could explore the Gardens, then pop over to House of Louie for Dim Sum, then go down the street to Darcelle’s. ๐Ÿ™‚

Waterfront Esplanade: This is a nice loop around the Willamette River downtown. It’s where I used to run during my lunch hour. Sometimes it’s overrun with homeless people but for the most part they leave people alone. You can run, walk, skate or bike around the loop. There’s often festivals going on down there plus carnivals!

OMSI: OMSI is fun for all ages. It’s geared toward kids for the most part but some of the exhibits will appeal to adults. Recently Michael and I went to OMSI After Dark (no kids allowed) for the Einstein exhibit. We got to explore the museum sans screaming children and drink some wine and eat yummy food!


Best Restaurants

Masu: THE best sushi restaurant in Portland. It’s so good and worth the cost. The specialty rolls are where it’s at. Masu is in the Pearl District and a short walk from Powell’s Books. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Bamboo Sushi: The second best sushi restaurant in Portland, over on the eastside. The sushi is great and it’s a tad less expensive than Masu.

Apizza Scholl’s: The best pizza place in Portland. And rated the #9 pizza restaurant in the USA.

Portland City Grill: The food is good but really what stands out about PCG is the atmosphere. It’s a super romantic restaurant on the top floor of a huge skyscraper with amazing views of downtown Portland. If the menu is out of your budget, try going there for happy hour in the bar instead.

Pok Pok: Spicy, authentic Thai Food is served up at this super popular eastside restaurant. Well worth the wait for a table.

Meriwether’s: It’s over in NW Portland, not too far from the trendy shops and restaurants on Nob Hill/NW 23rd. It’s a classy restaurant with amazing food and a gorgeous outdoor garden patio.

Jake’s Grill/Jake’s Famous Crawfish: The seafood is so good here. I don’t think I could actually pick what my favorite dish is from the menu because I’ve loved everything there.


Quick Day Trips

Hood River: Hood River is about an hour from Portland in the Gorge. It’s a scenic drive and a quaint little down right on the river. There’s wind-surfing, hiking, cycling, TONS of wine tasting, shopping and good food.

Plus in Hood River there’s something called “The Fruit Loop.” It’s a scenic 35 mile loop of farms and delicious fresh fruit to buy!

The Beach: The Oregon Coast is about a 90 minute drive from Portland. There’s Seaside, Newport, Lincoln City…plus casinos and outlet malls. There is tons of hiking around the beaches, saltwater taffy and the Aquarium.

Willamette Valley Wine Country
: I don’t think you could visit all the wineries in Oregon in one trip. There are just way too many. The wineries in the Gorge are my favorites but don’t skip the McMinnville area vineyards!

Gorge Hiking: There are too many hikes in the Gorge to name them all here. If you head East on I-84 you’ll find tons of places to hike. Some trails are very crowded (like Multnomah Falls) and others are less popular but just as beautiful.

Vernonia-Banks Trail: I haven’t been here in a year but when Michael and I were training for Reach the Beach we biked the trail and had a great time! We’d had to turn around because about a mile of the trail was gravel. Supposedly the trail is completed now. It’s out passed Hillsboro toward the beach.

Mount Hood/Timberline Lodge: Mount Hood is a great place to explore year round. In the winter we go snowshoeing up there. There’s tons of skiing and snowboarding and Timberline is a really cute lodge (which was in the movie The Shining). In the summer time it’s just as great to visit because there’s tons of camping and scenic hiking!

Bend: Bend is only about 3 hours from Portland and a good long weekend escape. It’s a super fit town–lots of hiking, biking and running in the summer and great winter sports too! Plus the Deschutes Brewery is there and it rocks!

Spirit Mountain: About an hour and a half from Portland, passed the Willamette Valley wine country, is an Indian Casino. It’s close to the beach, they have a decent buffet and fun gambling!

Portland Festivals

Rose Festival: It’s held at the beginning of June complete with a carnival, parade, Starlight 5k Run, and Fleet Week! I’ve been a few times but not in years.

Blues Festival: It’s held over Fourth of July weekend every year and it quite the fun time! I used to go every year. The Blues Fest is on the waterfront with tons of amazing food and good music. To get in you pay the fee plus bring cans of food for the food bank. I’ve seen Etta James, Buddy Guy, Steve Miller Band, Jonny Lang and a ton of other amazing artists there!

Oregon Brewfest: It’s the last full weekend of July down on the waterfront. Hundreds of beers just begging to be sampled under big tents complete with places to sit and eat in the shade. It’s a blast!

Best Things To Do

Biking the Springwater Trail: We bike the Springwater quite a bit. It’s scenic and an easy way to explore the city if you’re a nervous cyclist. It’s a 40 mile loop around the city. You can explore downtown, or head East and see farm country amidst the city.

Powell’s City of Books
: If you are a book lover you will love Powell’s. It’s a humongous warehouse I think four city blocks wide. You will never leave Powell’s empty handed. Trust me!

Saturday Market: It’s Saturdays and Sundays down by the Waterfront. Yummy food, arts and crafts, clothes and gifts plus music and lots and lots of people. It’s worth seeing and I’ve found some great gifts there.

PSU Farmer’s Market: There are tons of Farmer’s Markets all over Portland and I’ve been to many of them. The one at Portland State University is pretty large. You will find lots of goodies, fresh veggies and be entertained by musicians and bands too.

Food Cart Land

The Portland Food Cart industry has exploded in the last few years. There was a time when I never would have considered eating food out of the back of a truck but once I tried it, I was converted. Often it’s better food than what you can get in a restaurant for dirt cheap. It’s also something fun to do when the weather is nice enough to sit outside.

There are Food Carts down on SW 5th and Washington, SW 10th and Jefferson, SW 3rd and Washington, by PSU, SE 12th and Hawthorne, N Mississippi, North Station, SE 43rd and Belmont, SE 32nd and Division…the list is really endless because the Cartopias are popping up everywhere. It’sย worthย exploring!

QUESTION: So who wants to come explore Portland?