Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Portland, a.k.a. Beervana

Being back in Portland couldn't make me happier. I love this city! (And have thought many times about moving out this way...) It was a rainy drive from Vancouver, but it was smooth and we made it in about 6 hours, not too shabby. We were expecting more rain and cool weather when we arrived, but to our amazement, it was sunny and mild. As we drove into the downtown area near the river, we noticed some Navy ships and a festival of sorts. Another surprise, it was Fleet Week and the weekend of the Rose Parade...more to do than we were expecting! We made it easily to our hotel, checked in, and planned our first plan of attack. Having been in Portland a couple of times before, Jen and I were familiar with the layout of the city and knew that we could walk pretty much anywhere.

Our first stop was the Hair of the Dog Brewery. This brewery is located on the east side of the river, opposite of where our hotel is, but was only a 25 minute walk (give or take). It was a typical brewery that looked like it was built into the garage of an old firehouse. The beer was good and we snacked on a charcuterie plate to keep us afloat. From there we walked to Cascade Barrel House, a personal favorite because they serve sour beer. YUM! Jen and I both had a sampler, and the mom's tried the Apricot beer. They were not as impressed, but I was very happy with the new brews that I tried. The weather was holding nicely, so we decided to make our trek back over the bridge towards our dinner destination, Deschutte's Brewery and Restaurant. As we walked across the bridge, we had to go down a short set of stairs, across a walkway, and up another short set. What we weren't expecting was to walk through someone's bedroom on the way through. I think that shocked Mary a little, but really, none of us wanted to disturb anything, so we moved on quickly.

One thing to know about Portland, is that it is a very free-spirited city, with lots of traveler's and homeless people. Everywhere you turn, someone is asking for money, and when walking around you will pass by many "homes". If you don't let it bother you or your view of the city, you will have a fantastic time. Despite what you may think, Portland is very safe. Jen and I have walked the entire city many times and have never had any issues. People are friendly and helpful and everyone is just there to "be".

On the way to Deschutte's, we made a pit stop at VooDoo Donuts. They are famous for their maple bacon bars, which are AMAZING! This place is small, but the line moves quickly, and there is almost always a be prepared. However, it is one place that you should visit while in Portland...and enjoy a unique donut or three... Dinner was good, and of course we enjoyed more beer. At that point, it has been a long day and we had a decent walk back to the hotel, so we headed back to get some rest.

Day 2

We decided that since we had a car at our disposal, we would head out to Hood River and check out this quaint town that locals rave about. Unfortunately, it was raining the sights were shrouded in clouds. The scenery that we could see though, was beautiful. Mountains and rivers...waterfalls in the hills. It was an hour drive out to Hood River and the sun came out as we pulled into town, so we parked and walked around, checking out some of the cute boutiques and shops that lined the streets. We then stopped at Full Sail Brewery and Double Mountain Brewery. More good's not just in the city! Double Mountain Brewery is fairly new and serves wood oven pizzas that people were raving about. In my opinion, the best beer they served was the "clusterf&$*". (You can put that together...)

On the drive home, we stopped by Multnomah Falls. This was a set of beautiful waterfalls just off the highway. They has some walking paths and a bridge that was right in front of the water. A nice picture stop! We continued back to Portland, parked the car, and walked to a pizza place for a bite to eat. Once again the rain started, so once we were finished and there was a break in the downpour, we hurried back to the hotel.

That evening, the mom's decided to give Jen and I a break....they were headed to Powell's Bookstore, the largest, independently owned bookstore in the country. Jen and I headed back across the bridge to check out some more breweries. (Big surprise, I'm sure!) We set our sights on The Commons Brewery, which is new and only has a small tasting area. When we were about half way there, it started raining again, so we definitely earned those samplers! The brewers were serving their beer, some of which were made from organic materials and were mostly Belgian style beers. From there we headed to Green Dragon, which is one of our favorite beer bars in Portland. They have over 50 beers on tap and many more in there were samples to be had! During our trek to Green Dragon, we heard some loud music coming down the street. As it got closer, we realized is was a pub crawl where the people were traveling bar to bar on a giant trolley, where they all sit around a bar and pedal at the same time. There were neon lights and Micheal Jackson's "Beat It" was blaring from the speakers. The people were all singing and having a great time, so Jen and I cheered for them and kept on trucking. (We need one of those tours in Chicago! I'd be the first to sign-up...or maybe lead the tour...hmm...)

At Green Dragon, we each ordered a sampler and sat there enjoying the ambiance and pondering our choices. This is a great bar to get together with lots of friends because they have lots of party games to play while you sit and drink. As always, we made some friends at the bar, as people always want to know what beer is good and where you come from. As the night wore on and we ordered our second sampler (each), we decided it was time for a snack. We shared some loaded potato fritters, YUM!, and contemplated what else looked good on the menu. We noticed some meatballs with blue cheese covered in gravy (awesome bar food), but decided against it. Shortly after, some guy came up and dumped his meatballs into a to go container. Out of curiosity, I asked if I could look at them. He offered to let me smell them, which was weird...smelling a strangers balls...but I did anyways. He then said that he didn't want them and offered them to us. We declined, feeling bad about stealing some poor guy's balls, but he insisted, so we ate! They were awesome. And who can go home at night and proclaim to their mom that they stole a guy's balls?! So we ate, drank some more, bid adieu to our new friends, and headed back to the hotel. It wasn't too late, but it was an eventful day and we had another just ahead! We did take the time to stop by a food truck (a very Portlandia this to do) a get some late night nachos!

Day 3

It was Saturday, and the last day of our trip. Very sad...but we had lots of things still to do! The first adventure was watching the Rose Parade. It seemed like the whole city of Portland shut down for this event, so everyone was out, and some people even set-up tents the night before to reserve a spot. We walked and watched for quite a while, took a stroll through the Saturday Market (another Portland staple), and watched some more. There were people from all over the country being represented, so it was a lot of fun to be at. We then headed across the Burnside Bridge to Burnside Brewing where we already had tickets to enjoy the Portland Fruit Beer Festival. (Yay, more beer!) There were over 25 beers to sample, so we sipped and shared, and people watched. What a great Saturday! We enjoyed a delicious lunch at the brewery and then headed back to the west side. After walking around downtown for a while longer, we headed back to the hotel to regroup. That evening, we went to the managers cocktail hour at the hotel, then went out for food truck dinners. Jen had a falafel sandwich and the rest of us settled on some great mexican. We took our dinner back with us to watch the Celtics/Heat game. Jen and I had some beer at the hotel to finish, so it was some quality time with the moms, beer, and a sing along to end the night. We had an early flight the next we stayed up pretty late, but we had a stop at VooDoo Donuts to make before heading to the airport!

Time to say goodbye....

We got our donuts, headed to the airport and awaited our departure. This whole adventure had been a blast. All of the cities were similar, yet very different. Road tripping with the mom's was something new as well...Jen and I strutted our driving prowess in two countries and we all made it home alive. It has been a busy week, and I'm excited for the next adventure. I was happy to see this part of the country and I know that I'll be back soon:)

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