May 4, 2017

Portland


A couple weeks ago we headed up to Portland for a 4-day trip. George was going to Oregon for a guys golf trip, so I decided to crash trek along a few days in advance to explore Portland. We did bring A with us, which probably wasn't the best idea, because that meant I had the lovely experience of traveling back to LA alone with a 2-year old, 8 months pregnant. But that's a story for another time...

The nature in Portland is truly beautiful. We got to see the waterfalls, but since we did have a toddler with us, we didn't do the hikes, which I think would have been a lot of fun. In terms of the city itself, TBH, I wasn't all that impressed. Maybe it's just because we've now seen so many big cities (DenverVancouverSeattle) and the fact that we live in LA, but they all kind of look the same at this point. Or maybe it's because we were traveling with a toddler and I'm 8 months pregnant. But I think I'm good on "city vacations" for a while, and will stick to road trips to resorts, especially with baby #2 on the way. Unless it's Charleston, South Carolina, because that is definitely a city on my must-see list.
So what did we do in Portland? First off, we stayed at Hyatt House in downtown. It's nothing glamorous, but that's what we needed with a toddler lol. We stayed in a 1-bedroom with a kitchen, which comes in handy with kids. Also, if you're traveling there with kids, I highly suggest renting a car since it rains almost everyday. Otherwise, you can use public transit or Uber.

We flew in on a Thursday and for some reason, Murphy's law was in full effect. We had a morning flight and traffic at LAX was horrendous. We needed to leave my car in the parking lot since I was going to come back with A, and of course the lot was full. It's now less than an hour before our flight and we still have to check in luggage, get our boarding passes and go through security. Once we finally get to security, we discover that the airline gave us 2 boarding passes for A, and George is missing his LOL (it wasn't funny at the time though haha). So he has to go back to get a boarding pass and I go through security with A. Thank God we got to our flight JUST in time (note to self: if you're traveling with a toddler, just do yourself a favor and get to the airport at least 2 hours in advance, especially LAX. There's just always unforeseen crap.

So we get into Portland and now it's time for us to pick up the rental car that we reserved in advance. And just our luck, everyone else also decided to rent a car with the same company so George waits in line for an hour ... only to discover that they don't have any cars available and we have to wait around until someone returns a car. What?! Seriously. So we decide to rent a car with a different company. 

We FINALLY get to our hotel and at this point we're all dead tired and just want to take a nap before we go out and do some sightseeing. The girl at the front desk "hooks us up" with one of the nicer rooms. We get to said room and first thing we notice is some odd smell, but it wasn't too overwhelming. We thought it was because the room had just been cleaned. George then opens the refrigerator and the entire room becomes consumed with an awful fish stench. We were seriously going to gag. So we have to call the front desk to complain and ask to be moved to another room, which they "didn't have." After some insisting on our end, we finally get moved to a normal smelling room lol and we take our glorious, much-needed naps. So by the time we all wake up it's like 8pm and we don't have time to do much, so we just decide to go to the infamous Voodoo Doughnut. The verdict? Such a disappointment. We tried the Portland Cream, Old Dirty Bastard, Glazed and Maple Bar, and none of them were anything special. I'd say this place is just a tourist trap.

The next day was probably the best of the entire trip. Our friend got us into the Nike Employee Store (you need passes to get in) where pretty much everything is 50% off AND there's no sales tax (anywhere in Portland). And I'm not talking about old Nike gear. This is all NEW merchandise. We literally spent 4 hours there, so let's just say we're set when it comes to Nike gear. Really cool experience.

We then decided to head down the Columbia River Gorge to check out some of the waterfalls, which were really beautiful. You literally drive down the highway and can pull over at multiple stops to take in a different waterfall. We saw Wahkeena FallsMultnomah Falls and the Vista HouseOneonta GorgeHorsetail Falls and Guy W. Talbot State Park, where you can find Latourell Falls.

The rest of the trip was spent sightseeing around the city itself:
  • Breakfast at Mother's Bistro
  • Took A to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry ("OMSI") where they had a really cool Lego exhibit
  • Lunched at the Saturday Market (which is also open on Sundays)
  • Had coffee at Stumptown and donuts at Blue Star (FYI, they're open til 8 OR until they sell out, whichever comes first)
  • Went to the Plaza Blocks in downtown
  • Drove by Pioneer Courthouse Square (it's currently being renovated) 
  • Shopped in the Pearl District
  • Visited Powell's City of Books (this place is massive!!)
  • Went to the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park (FYI, the roses aren't in bloom right now, which I wish we would've known before we made the trip out there)
  • Enjoyed the city view from Pittock Mansion
  • Drove up to Forest Park
All in all, we saw a lot in those 4 days, especially with a toddler. I have to admit it was a tiring trip, but I'm glad I got to cross off Portland from my list of cities to see.

Mama's mountain boy
French toast at Mother's
These are made all out of Legos! How cool is that?!
That smile...
Forest Park
View from Pittock Mansion
The first time we tried to go to Blue Star they were actually sold out. So we went back the next day, and I hate to again say that the donuts were underwhelming.. and not to mention a complete rip-off. It's like $3+ for ONE donut!
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