I have officially fallen in love with Portland. I went there for a few days this summer to celebrate my sister’s graduation from college, my cousin’s graduation from high school and my survival of my first year at the Air Force Academy. Personally, I think that’s the biggest accomplishment.
Portland is definitely a city of hipsters. The only more hipster place would probably be Seattle, which is just a rainier and bigger Portland, technically, so there’s really no competition. We ended up going during Pride weekend, and the city was full of music and hilariously happy and drunk LGBTQ people, as well as being really sunny, which I was told was probably just an anomaly, and I should enjoy the sun while it’s out. But the amount of cool socks, weird mustaches and haircuts, and piercings in Portland is very high, but it makes it really fun to people-watch. Plus, I didn’t look out of place with my camera on my neck at all times, taking weird pictures in random places.
I’ve been in lots of large cities before — Denver, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Oakland, LA, San Diego — but I don’t think I’ve ever felt safer in a city than the three of us, all young adult women, felt this weekend. You might laugh how amazing this is to me, but we were never catcalled, never leered at, never once felt unsafe walking by ourselves through random streets. It’s either a sign of our changing culture, or, because marijuana is legal in Oregon, they were too high to really notice us. Still, it’s nice to be able to wander all the streets without having to really wonder about your safety or if the sketchy man under the tree really is threatening.
Portland is also famous for its food trucks. They’re lined up in the squares on both sides of the river. We originally chose Portland because when we asked our cousin where she wanted to go, she told a long story of going to Portland four years ago and eating the best grilled cheese ever, so she wanted it again. So we literally went to Portland to get some grilled cheese. To be fair, the Grilled Cheese Grill truck did have the best grilled cheese I’ve ever eaten. We ate other things, of course, from Egyptian and Lebanese food trucks (which made me realize how awful my Arabic really is) to Asian food trucks, to all the hipster cafes we could find. We tasted Blue Star Donuts, apparently in the top 10 donuts in America and so much better than Voodoo Donuts, we had the famous Salt & Straw ice cream (sourdough ice cream? It was amazing!), and of course, we had pretentious coffee because Starbucks just doesn’t cut it.
I love dogs, and my sister loves babies. My cousin, oddly enough, has a soft spot for ducks. So we implemented a point system of spotting things. My sister awarded 15 points for really really cute babies, as well as golden retrievers (her personal favorite dogs), my cousin points for both ducks and geese that had friends, and my points went to raving hobos (plus 25 points if they were screaming at the sky) and Dalmatians. Other than being really fun (and making you realize how many babies, dogs, ducks and hobos there are in the world), it took us down some interesting tangents. When I get to choose where the group is going, we will probably end up following a dog.
I’d definitely recommend Portland for anyone who wants to try something new. For us, we’d never traveled together without our parents, so we enjoyed the freedom in a city filled with people our age. The food is great, there's a bunch of things to do (the OMSI, a science center, as well as a zoo, or just countless streets to walk down), and there's shopping if you're into that sort of thing.