Portland & Seattle - 10.06.16/10.10.16

Finally, I got a chance to take a little vacation from the city. I had not had the chance to travel anywhere since April, when I went to Kansas City for a a few days. After reuniting with an old college friend, I decided to fly out to Portland, OR for a few days and then travel up to Seattle, WA before heading back home. I got the chance to hang out with some friends and explore a new city, all while being a bit of a tourist and enjoying some great food.

Portland - 10.06.16/10.08.16

I took my first flight on Virgin America to San Francisco, before heading onto Portland. Although, I didn't think out when I would by flying, since it fell after a weekend of rollouts at work. Having worked two overnights and then going straight into a closing shift with an event wasn't the smartest, but I had a decent amount of flight time to recover.

I was expecting to take an Uber and meet up with my college friend, Ian, in Portland. However, I was lucky, because he picked me up at the airport. I took an obligatory photo of the PDX airport carpet, but didn't have much time to explore one of the more pleasant airports in the US. I was waiting for my bags when Ian came up and it was hard to believe that it had been 12 years since we'd last seen each other. It almost felt like no time had passed.

As we drove through Portland, he gave me a brief tour and we caught up on life. (I was amused to see that he still had his Nebraska license plates on his car.) After a brief stop at his home, we picked up one of his friends and went out to dinner at Imperial (home of Doug from Top Chef). Being the good foodie that I am, I checked out their menu on Yelp! and knew that I needed to get one of their Parker House rolls. Ian must have had a long day, because he briefly fell asleep at the dinner table, which we mocked him to no end for, before heading home for the night.

The next day, Ian had to work, so I went on a mission to find some great food and shops. Everyone says that you need to go to Voodoo Doughnuts, but I went with the local favorite, Blue Star. Their doughnuts are made with brioche and I couldn't get just one. I walked away with a classic yeast glazed with horchata and a cake with sugar & spice. (Yes, I also bought two to go - apple pie fritter and a Mexican hot chocolate.) I walked along NW 23rd and got a really cool brass cuff at Betsy & Iya before heading downtown.

Some of my favorite stops included Everyday Music, where I found lots of great Broadway cast recordings (including a double CD set of Chess) before making my way to Powell Books. I found some great little boutiques on the walk, adding a gift for Ellie and a boy band coloring book to my purchases. I also stopped by the Madewell in the Pearl District, which was pretty cool, since I helped put together the real estate packet back when I worked at the Madewell office in 2013, before that store opened.

I didn't buy anything at Powell's, but I could have spent hours in the store, perusing so many categories and trinkets. Finally, I went in search of food and since it was #fatfriday, I grabbed some slices at Sizzle Pie, before wandering around some more. I found a great candy store, Quin, where I got chai tea lollipops and some cherry gummies

Before heading back to Ian's, I found my dream store, Billy Galaxy. This store was filled with nostalgic toys from the 80's and 90's; Care Bears, My Little Ponies, She-Ra, Gloworms - my dream. I didn't buy anything, but I could only imagine what I would add to my collection weekly, if I lived in Portland.

Friday evening, Ian had tickets to a pre-season Portland Trail Blazers game vs. the Phoenix Suns, so we spent the night watching basketball and hanging with some of his coworkers from Nike. As a mild sports fan, I enjoyed watching the game, but stadium food is a big reason I love sporting events and a fried chicken sandwich on a cheddar chive biscuit from Fowl Language was calling my name! I had to end the night with some of Portland's famous ice cream from Salt & Straw, before we called it a night.

My train to Seattle wasn't until the afternoon, so Ian made breakfast and I made him watch the latest episode of RuPaul's Drag Race with me. Then we headed down to Chinatown and explored the Lan Su Chinese Garden, a beautiful replica of what you might find in China. We met up with my friend, Amanda and her soon-to-be husband, Dustin for brunch in a restaurant that looked like an old log cabin made of giant Lincoln Logs. Then, Amanda and I walked around some of the cool shops nearby before Ian took me to the Amtrak station. A very fast and furious day and a half, but I would come back to Portland anytime.


Seattle - 10.08.16/10.10.16

Although it was my first time in Portland, this would be my second time in Seattle. The first time was when my best friend, Jenn, lived in Lakewood a few years back, but we didn't get much time in the city, proper. This time, I took a cheap and quick Amtrak up from Portland and my friend, Michelle, picked me up at the train station. Since we were already near the International District, we got some great Vietnamese food and some shaved ice for dessert. Since it was Saturday, I convinced Michelle to stay up late with me and watch Saturday Night Live, since Lin-Manuel Miranda (of HAMILTON fame) was the the host, and somehow we made it through the night.

Sunday morning, Michelle had a meeting, so she dropped me off at the Starbucks Roastery. I got the chance to see their beautiful concept store and have a great cup of chai with an everything pretzel bagel. Then I walked towards Capital Hill before going downtown and finding another Madewell (I can't help it, I'm a nerd...). The best part was wandering into the Nordstrom Rack and finding a Proenza Schouler '16 Resort dress in my size for $220, which was originally almost $1500! (Now, I just need somewhere fancy to wear it!) I was wandering through a few shops, when it was already time to meet up with Michelle.

We traveled into a suburb to try out a new Filipino bakery that had just opened a storefront. Hood Famous Bakery had lots of good treats, but I went with the pandan cheesecake and a purple velvet (ube) cookie! After we had our fill, we went to the Henry Art Gallery on the University of Washington Campus, where we saw some great exhibits and most interestingly, wood carved sculptures with a play on Snow White. We walked around the cam pus for a bit before driving up to a great overlook, so I could get some photos of the Seattle skyline. This night was also the 2nd Presidential Debate, so we went back to Michelle's apartment to watch it before grabbing some delicious fish & chips at Spud's, right next to her apartment.

For my last day in the Pacific Northwest, Michelle had to leave early for work, so I took an Uber into the city to meet up with a former coworker, Kate and spend the rest of my day exploring Seattle. We met up at Biscuit Bitch for brunch and caught up on life. Then we went to the Pike Place Public Market (you know, where they throw the fish like in the opening of The Real World: Seattle, does anyone remember that season, now?) for treats and gifts. I had to stop and get treats from one of my favorite stands, Chukar Cherries, and found a great little gift for my Mom for Christmas. After wandering around the market, we went to the Space Needle and rode up to the observatory. The 360 degree views of the city were amazing! 

After the Space Needle, I convinced Kate to go to the Dale Chihuly Glass & Sculpture Garden. Ever since I saw one of his exhibitions at the Jocelyn Art Museum in Omaha, when I was in high school, I have been fascinated by his blown glass artwork. I love the colors, pieces and how they are all put together. It was the perfect weather to stroll around in the garden and the sunlight was perfect for photos of his work.

Then, with a bit of time to kill before heading to the airport, we went to Dick's and enjoyed some cheap hamburgers, late-night diner style, and fries. I was very lucky that I have great friends to helped cart me around and saved me money on getting a rental car!