Monday, July 21, 2014

Living like a local in Portland (the one in Oregon)

Enjoy today's living like a local post, from Jeremy of Viaje and iHeartTravel. If you're interested in contributing to the series, let's chat!


Portland - you know, that city satirized on the show Portlandia? You know, the place where hipsters reign supreme and the 90s never went away? A place where you can find a microbrewery more easily than a convenience store?  Today I welcome you into a unique city, almost not even a city, but rather a small collection of neighborhoods that give this big city a small town feel. 

I moved to Portland about a year ago as a transplant from the east coast. Although not a true local (yet!), I think there is a charm in looking at a city from the perspective of a new comer. You get to see all the best bits with clear eyes - so, I present to you the best little gems I’ve found in or around the city.

I like to party like the locals, eat like the locals, live like the locals. To that end, I’ve come to understand that Portland is broken up into 12 distinct neighborhoods, many of them having distinct charms; all different, all culminating together to make the scene in Portland. Personal favorites would be Belmont, Hawthorne, and downtown.

Belmont and Hawthorne are really more like stretches of roads with a great collection of shops and restaurants. Downtown, there's a lively mix of shops, urban hiking possibilities, and ton of eats to choose from. Here are some places I recommend in or around these areas...

Eat up

Fire On the Mountain feeds both a former and a new love since I'm a vegetarian (well, a vegetarian/vegan hybrid, because I can’t fight the urge of indulging with some cheese from time to time, especially when I’ve had some drinks!). When I was a meat eater I loved getting some wings with multiple sauces and then fully indulging! Times have changed since my meat eating days, but FOTM allows me to take part in this much-beloved past time. This restaurant offers a large selection of wings, sauces and as an added benefit to us veggie eaters, they offer a vegetarian wing with the same delicious variety as the meat eaters. 

Portland is definitely a foodie's haven - you can walk down the street and get a taco, pairing it with pho, and ending it with an Iraqi gyro. This place has quite possibly every food you might like to try and food you may have never known you enjoyed. Many food cart stations are setup around the city, with each neighborhood offering their own unique variety of foods. In my time exploring the food carts, I’ve tasted everything from Colombian yucca to Korean deep fried tofu, vegan barbecue and Norwegian wraps. Trust me, your taste buds could travel the world with the amount of culinary variety found at our food carts. Some of my favorites include the Grilled Cheese GrillEl Pil√≥n, and Home Grown Smoker.

Here’s a little secret: Find this place and order the tofu bento, you will not regret it!

The official drink of Portland – BEER!

So let’s just make one thing clear: If you’re going to drink anything in Portland it won’t be water, no it won’t be soda (or pop, for you Midwestern folks), it won’t be wine… it will be definitely be beer. I sometimes think even the bottles of small babies are spiked with hops! Microbreweries - and a great selection of them - are found everywhere in Portland.  When I first arrived here, I remember my first encounter with the beer selection - I walked into the supermarket, turned the corner, and found this:

And this was only one section...

If you want a solid IPA or a crisp hefeweizen you will find about 50 different versions of each type in this city. We pride ourselves on being unique and offering a varied selection of microbreweries. As a person that values the notion of social good, leave it to Portland to cultivate a pub that creates something pretty unique: The nation's first non-profit pub, yes you read that correctly…NON-PROFIT PUB. How awesome is that? Oregon Public House is a great pub where you can have a drink and donate some of the proceeds from your drink to benefit a charity of your choosing.

Scenery galore

Portland is found in the great PNW (Pacific Northwest). This area of the US is the land of big trees and beautiful scenery. I’ve been completely awe struck with the natural beauty that’s right outside the city. If you travel about a half an hour east from Portland you will stumble upon an area called “The Gorge”. Here you will find a plethora of hiking opportunities - and scenic eye candy that will fill your memories for a lifetime.  I’ve recently been exploring this area more thoroughly, and plan to keep exploring this summer. If you can rent a car for a day I’d highly recommend you drive on Old Scenic Highway 30 and just marvel at all the natural wonder. Once you’ve had your fix I would then find a place to park and get ready to get into the wild!

The Gorge(ous Gorge)

There are many hiking paths in the gorge, and I can't recommend just one. Recently, however, I ventured into Wahkeena Falls hiking trail. It was a small two mile hike that led to a beautiful gushing body of water. You could feel the life of the trees, the power of the water, and the calm of the natural surroundings.

Wahkeena Falls

Keep Portland Weird is the official motto around here and this city definitely lives up to its name. A city where you may find yourself at a great farmers' market in the morning, and a dive bar in the evening, but don’t take my word for it, come here and get weird! 

About Jeremy: A father, traveler, self trained creative, and spectator of life. The quest is to live a life intentionally, to construct a life of my choosing. My current aim is to work with organizations doing good and aligning myself with the people making a difference on this earth. I’ve lived in the US, Guatemala and Germany. Traveling is a way of life for me and I love sharing that notion of being with others! You can join me as my Viaje (journey) unfolds at Viaje or on social media at Facebook and Twitter , La vida es un viaje!

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