Portland, Oregon

First trip of 2017!

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Travel/Lodging:
We grabbed some tickets from Southwest during one of their sales. Our flight landed around 12:30AM on Friday morning. We stayed at the Staybridge Suites – Portland Airport. It was a 10-minute/$15 Lyft ride from the airport, and a 20-minute/$25 Lyft ride to downtown. The hotel is close to a MAX station if you prefer to take public transportation.

Our room was a studio queen suite with a kitchenette. Nothing fancy although this was more than enough for us as we were hardly in the room. The hotel offers a complimentary breakfast, but who would choose a hotel breakfast over Portland brunch?

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Day One (Friday)
We started our first full day at Broder Nord for breakfast. I ordered the Lefse, a Norwegian potato crepe which was filled with ricotta cheese, apples, and caramelized onions (preparation changes daily), served with two soft baked eggs. My boyfriend ordered the baked egg scramble with trout which included walnut toast and a griddle cake. We also got a half order of Aebleskivers, delicious Danish pancake balls, with lemon curd and lingonberry dipping sauces.

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We definitely wanted to hit up a bunch of coffee shops, so we went to Either/Or to try their espresso flight. We may have over-hyped this place for ourselves. The espresso flight is two shots of espresso, a mini dessert, and a cup of sparkling water. Aesthetically and conceptually, it’s cute- but we would have been more satisfied if we had just gotten regular drinks.

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By this time there was crazy wind and rain so we decided to hide out at OMSI. It’s a really interactive museum that’s better suited for kids, but we still enjoyed ourselves (and stayed dry). There was this neat Lego art exhibit… but I didn’t feel it was worth the extra admission fee.

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The rain let up when we left OMSI so we walked to Coava for a cup of their Bella Aurora coffee. It was just what we needed to warm ourselves up. Coava is spacious but there aren’t that many seats/tables.

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We decided to test our luck with the weather and walk over the Hawthorne Bridge to check out Mill Ends Park – the smallest park in the world. Quite Portland if you ask me!

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After roaming around downtown a little bit, we stopped by Powell’s, a huuuuge bookstore. I don’t buy books anymore (libraries ftw), but this is truly a bibliophile’s heaven.

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Even though it was late afternoon we decided to walk by a Blue Star Donuts. As I predicted, it was already closed because they had sold out. If you really want those donuts, go early in the morning.

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We ended our night with some cocktails at Pepe Le Moko, which is around the corner from the Ace Hotel. This place is super dark and tiny, so I wouldn’t come here with a group bigger than 4 people. Their cocktails are really tasty and refreshing, but not very strong. I had my first Amaretto Sour and it was awesome- just the right amount of sourness and the frothy egg white was on point.

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Day Two
Saturday was another early morning so we went to Screen Door for breakfast. We got there 20 minutes before opening and there was already a long line. Thankfully we were part of the first wave of customers to be seated- around 9:10AM. We went a little overboard with our ordering, but I’m glad we did because everything was sooooo delicious.

Our main dishes were the Chicken & Waffles and Eggs Sardou with Cheddar Grits. As “sides” we ordered the Praline Bacon and a half order of Bananas Foster French Toast. There are a myriad of brunch places in Portland, but I’m so, so glad we chose to come here.

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Next to Screen Door is an Indonesian coffee store called Kopi Coffee. I could barely move and was feeling a little nauseous due to how much I ate, so I got some Dragon Pearl Jasmine Tea to help digest. My boyfriend ordered the Kopi Jahe, which is Indonesian Ginger Tea.

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After Kopi we decided to walk to another coffee place (I mean, when in Portland…). Since the weather was so much better than the day before, we enjoyed a mile stroll through some neighborhoods. My boyfriend was amazed at all the moss that grows in Portland and how nice everyone’s front yard is. Guess that’s an upside to Portland’s weather.

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Tov is actually a double-decker bus. Due to some horrendous winds the day before, the seating section on the second level was messed up so we sat downstairs (there’s only 4 chairs total downstairs, but there are also tables and benches outside). They have a menu full of Egyptian coffee items as well as more common drinks. Their cortado was delicious.

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As a basketball fan I had to stop by the Moda Center to take a picture of the Rip City sign.

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Our next stop was the Portland Japanese Garden. I hear it’s one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan. I honestly thought it would be bigger than it is, but it’s still gorgeous.

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Their Umami Cafe does free tea tastings and is a great place to sit after exploring.

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More coffee. Finally hit up Stumptown Coffee for their Nitro Cold Brew. I’ve had better, but theirs was pretty good.

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After hanging out at Stumptown, we walked to Pok Pok. The wait would be an hour and a half for 2 people on a Saturday night. Yikes! On the way to Pok Pok we noticed the SE Wine Collective and treated ourselves to some tastings to pass the time.

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Just as we were finishing our flights, Pok Pok texted us that our table was ready and we had 10 minutes to get back to the restaurant. Let me be brief and say that Pok Pok (at least their Vietnamese Chicken Wings) is overrated, and a little pricey for what you’re getting. The Khao Soi was good, but needed chili flakes for some extra flavor. Maybe their other menu items are good?

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We had an early flight the next morning so went back to the hotel after dinner.

Day Three
Got to the airport around 6:15AM. The airport has a Blue Star Donuts before security! And since we were so early, there was no wait. We tried a Blueberry Bourbon Basil and Maple Bacon donut and paired it with a Stumptown cold brew.  

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Portland is a really chill place with great food and plenty to do, no matter the weather. I would recommend coming in the summer, when the weather seems to be a bit more stable and enjoyable.

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Girls Weekend in Vancouver

Was itching to add another stamp to my passport, but I didn’t have a lot of time to take off. So a girlfriend and I decided to spend an extended weekend in Vancouver!

We had a super early flight and made it to Vancouver around 11AM. We took the TransLink, which was right across the street from the airport, to our home for the weekend: Holiday Inn & Suites Vancouver Downtown. The hotel location was ideal. We didn’t have a car, so it was great that we were walking distance to a few train stations (~10 to 15 min) and bus stops. Canada Place was a mile walk north, and the Granville ferries were a mile walk south.

After we settled in, we got a quick snack at Japadog. Can’t remember the exact dog we got, but I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong with anything at this famous cart!

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We then made our way south to catch a ferry to Granville Island.

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Granville Island was an awesome place to walk around. We spent most of our time at the Granville Island Public Market, checking out all the vendors and grabbing a bite to eat at the food court. Then we took a stroll around the surrounding area.
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After Granville, we headed north of our hotel and checked out Canada Place and the Olympic Cauldron that was used for the 2010 Winter Games (ever since I visited Seoul’s Olympic Park in 2013 I’ve tried to make it a point to check out any Olympic related monuments/sites if I’m in a former host city).

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The next day we were off to Stanley Park! Before you visit, prepare yourself with a lot of walking and bring some water and snacks. We only spent a few hours at the park and I was already beat!

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Later that night for dinner we went to Guu with Garlic, a cute Japanese tapas place with delicious food! Unfortunately no food pictures, but we had the chicken karaage, okonomiyaki, and pan fried udon noodles. We sat in a room off to the side where you had to take your shoes off and sit on the floor.

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After dinner we went to Gastown and checked out some bars and lounges.

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The next day was filled with shopping, and in the early evening we checked out the Vancouver Lookout Tower. It is very touristy, but very beautiful! It was awesome being able to walk around and get a 360 view of Vancouver. Along the sides they have little cards with trivia about all the landmarks you’re looking at. Get here during sunset for some amazing views!

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We ended our Vancouver trip with brunch at Medina Cafe, where I had the most enjoyable breakfast spread I have ever had in my life (the La Sante)!

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Thanks to Medina Cafe, we ended our trip on a high note. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to check out any of the suspension bridges or go on any hikes, so I would definitely love to come back with some friends to have some more Vancouver adventures.

Weekend in Napa

Spent a night in Napa for a quick weekend trip. I am not big on wine (mostly a whiskey drinker), so this trip had more chewing than sipping.

On Saturday we found ourselves at the Oxbow Market in downtown Napa around noon. I really enjoyed this place (and there’s free parking in the adjacent lot!). There are a bunch of different food stalls and restaurants you can choose from. It’s reminiscent of the Ferry Building in San Francisco and San Pedro Square in San Jose.

After walking around the building a few times, we decided to start off with some oysters from Hog Island Oyster Co. We ordered a mix of six different oysters and they were all so fresh and delicious! I especially loved how they were clean and I didn’t have to crack them open! Workin’ for your food ain’t that fun. I wish we had eaten more but we had to pace ourselves.

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We then headed over to Gott’s Roadside. We ordered the bacon cheeseburger, ahi tuna tacos, and garlic fries. I’m not a fan of hard taco shells, but the tacos were quite appetizing. The burger was good, but I felt it was only a little bit better than a burger you would get at Red Robin. The fries were enjoyable but I freaking love garlic so there wasn’t enough of it in the fries for me (there’s never enough!!!).

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After our lunch, I headed over to Three Twins Ice Cream for some Land of Honey and Milk ice cream and then Ritual Coffee for a flat white (which was good, but not as good as Chromatic Coffee in San Jose). We found some seats outside (did I mention the weather was gorgeous?) to enjoy our sweet treats and people watch.

Soon it was time to check into our hotel. We stayed at the Staybridge Suites in Fairfield, about a fifteen minute drive from downtown Napa. I liked the layout of the room – a living room, kitchen, and separate bedroom and bathroom – but overall I did not have a great first impression of the hotel. Room is a little outdated and could use some more lighting. There was an extensive complimentary breakfast and the staff was decent and friendly enough, but I don’t think I’ll be back.

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Because I had had had to watch the NBA All Star Saturday Night events, we didn’t have dinner until about 8:45PM. We wanted to avoid the dreaded Valentine’s Dinner wait and crowds so we found Chaats Cafe, an Indian restaurant half a mile down the street in a shopping plaza. We weren’t looking for a special or romantic atmosphere at all, but the restaurant did have roses on the tables and heart shaped balloons, which I thought was cute. They even gave us free gulab jamun for dessert. Overall, the food was good but a bit pricey due to its location.

The next morning, we met up with some of our friends at Jamieson Winery for a wine and cheese tasting. The winery seemed kind of small but looked really nice. One of the sides of the winery had some interesting murals painted on the walls.

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Our host, John, was very friendly. He told us the recommended wine/cheese pairings, but ultimately told us to “play around” with the flavors to find our personal preference.

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They also brought out one of their mini horses, Molly, who was THE CUTEST THING IN THE WORLD. Would you believe she’s their biggest mini horse!?

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I had never been to Napa before, so I’m glad I went, but since I’m not into wine I feel like there wouldn’t be too much more for me to see/do/visit.

…Well, there is one more place I’d go back to Napa for- Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ. Whiskey flights!? Yes, please!