Friday, August 21, 2009

My Impromptu Portland Trip

Oh my goodness bloggies!!! It's getting hot in herrrrreee!!!!

I live in the middle of the Canadian Rockies in an AC-less home. And I am melting!!! So I'm going to try to keep this blog short but oh so sweet!

Time to recap my Portland adventures.

Last weekend the fiance and I took a bit of holidays and headed down to Portland. Objective? Use up our free Starwood Hotels night before it expired AND get closer to the Coast.

You see the fiance is a Vancouver Island (British Columbia) boy and it pains him to the core to be so far from the Ocean. So when the opportunity came up to take a random spur of the moment voyage we chose Portland!!!

We left on Thursday night and drove pretty well through the night. It's a long drive from here to Oregon but we didn't stop until we hit the Oregon side of the Columbia River. That's where we checked into a hotel to catch some sleep before continuing our journey. We figured it was wise or else we'd be too tired to enjoy our destination.

After waking up we continued our drive Westbound. I have to confess I was somewhat surprised to see a very arid canyon. You see my previous trips to Oregon consisted of beautiful coastal views or lush forests like these (photo taken from the top of the Astoria column):

So of course you can imagine my shock when the Columbia Gorge looked incredibly arid pretty well the entire way to Portland. It wasn't the Oregon we thought we'd signed up for! That's for sure! But nonetheless we kept on chugging on knowing there were lush forests and beautiful coasts waiting for us on the other side. :o)

Eventually we took a break for a late breakfast in a sleepy dusty cowboy kind of town. It was literally the only restaurant we had seen in hours so I wasn't about to be picky.

The fiance and I sat down in a place clearly full of locals and took a look at our menu:

That's right - the menu featured two heads of cattle at the very top. And their specialties included dishes like pork chops for breakfast. A pescatarian heaven it was not!!! :oP lol

I was starving however so I ordered a biscuit thinking it would be small, hopefully WW (what was I thinking), and hopefully the least evil food choice on the menu. When my "healthy" biscuit arrived it was the size of half of my head and totally buttery:

Now I'm not going to front. That big old honking load of refined carbs was kind of delicious!!! lol I'm so white bread deprived I was kind of happy by my choice. And yet I had a gnawing feeling that it wasn't that great for me and I would be hungry kind of soon.

And I was right - as soon as we hit civilization I hit up McDonalds for some Walnut/Fruit/Yogurt snack. By this point I was ready to munch on my left arm, I was that hungry!!!

I ate about half the serving and gave the rest to the fiance who was all to happy to oblige. :o)

Soon enough we were in Portland - I live in a very small Rocky Mountain town at the moment. But I'm completely a big city girl! And I miss living in a bit city - a lot. I know that sounds crazy given the beauty of my current home but there's something in me that comes alive when I'm in a Cosmopolitan Centre.

And so it was that I was completely delighted when I saw the absolutely swank trendiness of our hotel - The Nines in downtown Portland:

Not bad for free, huh!? :oP Score!!

After enjoying our surroundings for a bit we headed out to walk around Portland. You see the best part of our hotel was not the inside but rather it's awesome location, directly across from Pioneer Square (Portland's living room).

Needless to say it was a central starting point for our explorations. :o) I stopped at NikeTown where I purchased new weight lifting gloves, we sipped coffee in trendy cafes, strolled the tree lined streets of the University district, and walked along the water's edge. Halfway through our explorations the mungriness (mad hungriness) hit us and stopped at a local Ramen/Udon shop for a snack. We ordered seafood udon to share:

This was my share:

I know it looks like I kept it really light but that's because we'd already scoped out our dinner locale. The top level of our hotel featured a trendy little lounge/restaurant called Departure. The decor was suitably modern (kind of futuristic - like a spaceship) and the views were fantastic:

What drew us to Departure was their inventive cuisine and some awesome happy hour specials!

Although the picture above isn't of the happy hour menu it still gives you some idea of the type of dishes they serve (perfect for sharing - which is what we did). And yes it would be kind of pricey if you ate there at regular prices but during happy hours you can find some great deals.

Such as inexpensive ($5) glasses of fabulous French Champagne:

Really rich miso soup:

Inventive chicken wings fried in a panko crust (the fiance said they were amazing - so he ordered two servings):

Beautiful tuna sashimi:

THE butteriest hamachi I have ever tasted:

Yummy scallops:

And the piece de resistance - a passion fruit dessert that made me want to lick my plate. And I came this close too!!! lol

After our feast the fiance and I happily discovered that Portland's Living Room was featuring a free outdoor movie screening. It was awesome to see young, old, families, singles, and even doggies taking in the "Flicks on the Bricks" feature (Anchorman - hilarious!):

Props to Portland for putting on such a fantastic event! They even provided free popcorn - score again! :o)

Given that we only had one day in Portland we managed to squeeze a lot in and have a wonderful time!

That night we headed off to bed fairly early - excited for the next day and our time on the Oregon Coast!!! :o)

To be Continued . . .


Marianne (frenchfriestoflaxseeds) said...

I have heard many a good thing about Portland. I'll have to make my way there someday...along with all the other places I haven't visited of course.

Anonymous said...

Portland sounds a great place and your hotel room.... Omg!!! how did you get it for free? I'm jealous!! :)

Andrea (Off Her Cork) said...

Look how posh and mod your room is! Love it! Have fun in Portland!

A Toronto girl out West said...


It's a cool place - really nice vibe. I like it better than Seattle actually! Less gritty.


It was great! And I managed to get the room for free because I'm a Starwood Preferred Guest. They had a deal during most of the summer where if you stayed two times at any of their hotels you could have a free night.

They let you choose pretty well any hotel for your free stay so of course I went with the swank one! :o)

I think you could say I LOVE the Starwood Preferred Guest system. I got two free nights this summer out of it!!!!


I've come back now. That was last weekend - but it was awesome! :o)

Nancy said...

You trip looked like fun. I guess living in the mountains can have its downsides though!

A Toronto girl out West said...


It was fun! :o) Cool city - it had a really nice friendly neighborly feel.

And yes the mountains where I live are beautiful. Gorgeous really. But sometimes a girl needs her city fix.

And if you're Graham you need your Ocean fix.

I guess that's why I've decided Vancouver has the perfect location. Close to the Ocean AND the mountains. :o)

That Pink Girl said...

Swanky hotel - how fun!

The Globetrotter said...

Oh my gosh looks like you had the most amazing last minute getaway! And you ate so well... yum :) hope to see you in San Fran if I can make it!

A Toronto girl out West said...

Pink Girl,
It was!!!! Hope you are feeling better!

A Toronto girl out West said...

I will be crossing my fingers for a San Francisco get together!

Anonymous said...

sounds like fun! I am so jeals of your free swanky hotel!!!!!

A Toronto girl out West said...


I know eh? I was totally surprised they gave us a free night at such a sweet place!