portland // day 2

This morning, I am put on a mission of finding us one of Portland’s best coffee places. No pressure, you know. It’s a little ironic that I’m the one looking for the best coffeeshop when I don’t even drink coffee myself! Usually, though, I’ve found that cafés with good coffee (according to others) also happen to have good hot chocolates. As if the two were somehow positively correlated.

Dad drives us across the Willamette to Central Eastside, and we make a breakfast stop at my select location, Water Avenue Coffee. At the end of our entire trip, I asked my parents where they had the best coffee, and this is the place they both agreed on. We went to many places where they loved the coffee, so this one must be particularly excellent! My bran muffin is good, and so are the croissants and biscuits.

A short car ride will take you to Grand Marketplace, but you can easily walk there as well. This antique and vintage heaven is surprisingly affordable, especially considering how well curated it is. You’ll find nearly anything from vintage American flags to cutlery, taxidermy, keys, mirrors, cameos, and much, much more. We probably spend a good hour in there, but I could have stayed all day.

One block away, you’ll find Rejuvenation, a home decor store that mostly sells its own designs, but also has a number of unique antique pieces. Mom falls in love with a small round vintage mirror, which will be perfect for the downstairs bathroom in Hudson. Rejuvenation is rather pricey, but if I were an interior designer, it would be my go-to place for lamps and other small fixtures.

If you’re up for some shopping, check out Wildfang, a hip clothing store just down the street from Rejuvenation. It sells some pretty funny items, such as  sweatshirts and caps that say “The Original North West”. Funny story: Mom misread the description of this shop on the map, so we went in thinking it was a men’s store, and then were confused and assumed it was a unisex store, and then read the map again awhile later and realized it was a women’s store all along. It would have been even funnier if our dad had asked to try on a t-shirt.

We take the car again and find Rivelo, a bicycle store where one can purchase (or simply drool over) beautiful saddles, bags and other bike accessories. If you already own a bike, this is a must-stop. If you don’t, I hope you’re ready to be converted. Upon exiting Rivelo you’ll get a decent view of the Tilikum Crossing,  Portland’s most recent bridge and a new favorite of locals. I was going to say that it reminds me of the Calatrava bridge in Buenos Aires, but then I looked it up and realized I was totally off. So you can just forget about that.

We’re back on the road, and twenty minutes later, we arrive on the top of
Mount Tabor. Mount Tabor Park not only gives you a view of the entire city, but it’s also beautiful in itself. We choose the red trail, which I believe is only one mile long (and not challenging). I’m completely mesmerized by how tall the trees are. If you’ve been to Redwood National Park, then you’re probably more difficult to impress. But for me, at least, walking in Mount Tabor is truly a sublime experience (and I haven’t used the word sublime lightly since I’ve read Frankenstein in high school). It even starts snowing thick, slow flakes during our hike, which makes this moment even more unforgettable.

I won’t lie: it takes us a while to warm up once we return to the car. The snow has turned to rain and it’s pretty nasty, to say the least. Before lunch, we stop by a vintage store called
Artifact, which has a really cool selection of dresses, ponchos and jackets. I get a plaid men’s shirt and a cute patterned dress, all for a meager $14. There’s a nice home decor section too, where you’ll find many boho rugs and...more taxidermy.

Everyone’s getting a little hangry, and the weather certainly doesn’t make things any better. We try to get lunch at Broder, a popular Scandinavian place, but arrive too late and settle for
Noho's Hawaiian Cafe instead. Mom’s Kalua Pork ($9) is so delicious everyone keeps picking at her plate. I am in desperate need for a hot broth, so I order the Saimin Noodles ($7). The sweet pork is on point, but I wish the broth had a little more of a kick to it (but perhaps that’s my bad - I could have asked for sriracha).

Next to Broder, there is a narrow shop called Clinton Street Record and Stereo, and we make a quick stop to check out their records. While we are browsing, two students are in the process of choosing a vinyl player from one of the many beautiful ones the place has to offer.

A few blocks away, Little Otsu covers all of your stationery needs. It’s very similar to similar to Boucle & Papier in MTL: walls of beautiful cards, more agendas than you could need in your entire lifetime, lovely calendars and children’s books. We have some time before our 4pm movie screening, so we cross the street for a rest/refuel stop at Dapper & Wise Roasters, where the adults (myself excluded) get coffee, and Dad gets an apple turnover.

It’s still raining by the time we get to Cinema 21, which is perfect because I love going to see movies when the weather is bad. In fact, the shittier the weather, the more I appreciate a film (with a few exceptions, of course). This afternoon we see Brooklyn, which is based on a novel by Colm Toíbín. It’s a lovely production, both aesthetically and acting-wise. Who else predicts an Oscar nomination for Saoirse?

After the film, we go see a live standup show at Portland’s Curious Comedy. The place happens to have a free open mic every Sunday night, which, as for all open mics, is great because it allows the audience to hear newcomers, but awkward and not so great when bad jokes arise. Either way, there are bound to be some funny performers in the batch, and you’re always up for a least a few good laughs.