Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Mission: To show Chanelle, my housemate from Los Angeles, a good time in the Rose City (she'd never been before). And hope that the weather cooperated!

6:30 PM. Pick Chanelle up at our pleasant, stress-free airport. Portland makes a good first impression!
8 PM. A relaxing night at home. Big plates of penne with pesto sauce. We watch the first half of the DVD of Vassar's production of Into the Woods from November 2006, which Chanelle hadn't gotten to see (I played one of Cinderella's stepsisters).

12:30 PM. Willamette Week once said something like "Downtown Portland is just like any other city's downtown; the neighborhoods in Southeast give Portland its character." So we head over to the extremely characterful Hawthorne, and lunch at crêperie Chez Machin. Edith Piaf and indie rock on the sound system.
2 PM. Strolling up and down Hawthorne on a rather pleasant day with a few "sunshowers," stopping in vintage stores. I score a Jackie Kennedy-style sheath dress and matching coat, in light blue shantung. Chanelle picks up some sweaters and scarves. (The Portland girl sees the promise of spring; the LA girl needs to bundle up!)
3:30 PM. Juno at Cinemagic. We loved the movie! Yes, it's self-consciously quirky, but so is much of Portland. Juno's cozy bungalow looks just like the cozy houses in Southeast (though the movie takes place in Minnesota). And her monologue about how "the jocks really want the girls who wear horn-rimmed glasses and read McSweeney's and want to be children's librarians" is my new favorite movie quote.
5:30 PM. There is an hour-long wait at Ken's Artisan Pizza so Chanelle and I browse another vintage store on Burnside.
6:30 PM. Thin-crust pizza and wonderful roasted vegetables.
9 PM. Back at home, we finish Into the Woods, then yak till very late at night.

11 AM. The weather looks promising, so we make this our outdoor, Columbia Gorge day. In the car, we play the "Portland Trifecta" of bands: The Shins, The Decemberists, Pink Martini. My dad and Chanelle bond by talking about music--like Mark and Juno did in the movie. I am lost throughout much of their conversation.
12 PM. We stop at a few viewpoints along the Old Columbia River Highway; then, Multnomah Falls! Once the most popular tourist attraction in Oregon, it has since been usurped by the tribal casino. Still, I consider it essential visiting. We go up to the bridge and feel the misty spray. Exhibit A that Oregonians love coffee too much: the espresso stand at the base of the falls is doing a brisk trade.
1:45 PM. We go a little further on the old highway, then turn around and zip back to Portland on I-84. A late lunch at Grand Central Bakery--the first really good bakery in Portland, and still consistently high-quality.
2:30 PM. We drive up "Trendy-Third" Avenue and briefly stop in Washington Park, to try to see the Portland skyline from the rose garden. However, the clouds are starting to roll in.
3 PM. At Blockbuster, we rent movies that our film-buff housemate has insisted we watch: Once and The Painted Veil.
3:45 PM. At home, we bake a simple one-layer cake. Chanelle and I love desserts but can't often make them in our apartment at school, since our oven is unreliable and we don't have a mixer.
6:45 PM. Delicious Oregon salmon, barbecued by Dad. And then, The Painted Veil.

11 AM. Now it's time for Downtown Portland. We start at Pioneer Square, as it begins to drizzle. We open our umbrellas in front of "Allow Me," aka "Umbrella Man." Then we pay a visit to Portland's other must-see statue, "Portlandia." (Oh, and on Saturday night we drove past the "Joan of Arc" statue in NE Portland!)
12:15 PM. We eat at the Bijou Café, another Portland institution. Bright and cozy and delicious breakfast food.
1:15 PM. We head through Chinatown for a little ethnic flavor. (Chanelle, being from LA, had definitely noticed the lack of minorities in Portland--not that Chinatown is exactly teeming with Chinese people, either.) Then, into the Pearl District. The first place we go is Portland Center Stage at the Armory--where I worked last summer. Chanelle is fascinated by the historical displays in the lobby.
1:45 PM. My favorite two-block stretch of Portland is Eleventh Avenue between Burnside and Davis. There's PCS, Anthropologie, Mio Gelato, and, of course, Powell's Books. I show Chanelle all around this labyrinthine store and end up buying two things for myself.
2:45 PM. It's raining, dammit--and hard, too, not the usual Portland drizzle. We race across the street to Mio Gelato, get big scoops (Oregon girl that I am, I go for marionberry), and sit chatting and gossiping for a long time, probably annoying everyone else in the café, members of Portland's Creative Class who work silently at their laptops.
4 PM. Still raining. We hurry to the bus stop and take #35 back home, which gives us some misty views of the Willamette River.
9 PM. After relaxing, cooking, and eating dinner, we watch Once (my thoughts).

11 AM. After Chanelle's things are all packed, we briefly visit downtown Lake Oswego. I exhaust my stock of L.O. jokes and sarcasm.
12:15 PM. Lunch at Saint Honoré Boulangerie, my new favorite, for its très French style and flavor.
1 PM. Time to go back to the airport. Chanelle seems quite captivated by Portland--but how to reconcile her cravings for LA's abundant sunshine with her desire for Portland's more free-spirited, alternative attitude?


Mead said...

Sounds like a lovely time. My favorite coffee shop to take out-of-towners (as well as for impromptu meanings when I feel the need to escape the Pearl) is Palio, on Ladd Circle. So Portland!

Marissa said...

Hm, I haven't heard of Palio, but I'll have to check it out. I love Ladd's Addition! (And it would've been funny if I took Chanelle there because she spent last summer in Siena, home of the real Palio!)

Ash Unabashed said...

I love that you included two of my current favorite things in your post!
1. Mio Gelato
2. Once, the movie

Although, I'd take Once over Lost in Translation, your review might remind me to give it another shot the next time I'm at Movie Madness.

I can't believe all that you crammed in while your friend was visting. She must of needed a vacation from Portland when she returned to LA. (But I've also never heard of anyone not falling in love with Portland once they get here!)