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While I typically compose my blog entries from the comfort of my Portland sublet apartment, this one is being written somewhere in the middle of Idaho while I am en route to Denver! Seeing the beautiful Rose City slowly fade into the distance in my rear view mirror, I feel compelled to reflect upon everything incredible that Portland has to offer and create my own list of the top ten things I’ll miss the most!

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1. Don’t Stop Believing. Forget Holocene, Portland’s karaoke bars are my favorite Friday night haunts. With endless song books, you can sing anything from Macklemore to David Bowie. The best part? The crowd cheers no matter how horrible you are. Even if singing isn’t your forte, the pure entertainment value of watching middle aged men screech along to Ke$ha is worth the price of your drinks alone. My favorite spots are The Alibi on Interstate and Chopsticks on Burnside. Grab your girls and make all of that shower singing worthwhile!

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2. Stereotype Shattering Hipsters. One of my first realizations once arriving in Portland was that Portlandia isn’t simply a show – it’s a documentary. We have all witnessed (or occasionally are) the aggressive bicyclist, the over-inquisitive menu reader, or even the Einstein of mixology. However, despite superficial labels, each hipster I encountered was overwhelmingly friendly. During my mid-summer vacation home to Kentucky, I was shocked at how difficult it was to strike up conversations with strangers. Apparently, genuine kindness, as well as the dream of the 90’s, is alive in Portland.

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3. Salt and Straw. Honestly, where else can you get olive oil flavored ice cream that tastes like the ambrosia of the Gods? I’m convinced that pure magic happens in the kitchen at Salt and Straw. I recently tried the new seasonal flavors for September and I don’t think I’ve fully recovered, yet. The Hawaiian PB&J is spectacular, but whichever flavor you choose, be sure to at least sample the Loaded Baked Potato (except if you’re vegetarian as it contains meat!) It was the most bizarrely delicious experience of my summer, even above having my first-ever Pickleback.

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4. Fill Her Up! I still remember my utter confusion when a strange man began filling my car with gas when I pulled up to my first Shell station in Oregon. After considering the possibility that it was some strange form of flirting that required a credit card transaction, I realized that the dream of the 60’s is alive in Portland, too. Who needs self-serve gas stations when you can simply text in your car while someone else does it for you? Oregonians get enough exercise as it is; let’s sit this one out.

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5. The Never-Lax MAX. Other than one strange experience that involved a man using a MAX seat as a personal toilet, I have absolutely no complaints about the TriMet system. Living in St. John’s makes enjoying Portland’s nightlife a mathematical equation. Calculating arrival and departure times as well as the 2-hour expiration of tickets is more than my brain can handle. Luckily, in addition to the expansive and reliable MAX, there exists an awesome little app called Transit. Without this combo, I’d probably end up wandering around Janzen Beach at 4am looking for VooDoo Doughnut.

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6. The Port in Portland. It may be a bit of a stretch, but I love the nautical vibe of the city. I have fond memories of waking up in a daze at 6am to the sounds of foghorns of ships sailing down the Willamette. I also love the opportunity to take day trips to the coast! I’d love it if Bridgetown adopted the fishy aroma of Seattle, but for now I’ll have to be grateful that we can still shamelessly enjoy seafood dishes, unlike in landlocked Denver where we have to question its origins.

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7. What Do You Mean There’s 0% Sales Tax? The world seems to make a little bit more sense when the price on the receipt actually matches the number on the menu. I have a sneaking suspicion that I will feel swindled every time I purchase something in Denver or Kentucky and have to pay around 6% extra. Sure, taxes fund some great government programs, but I can’t buy Yosi Samra flats with the feeling of being a good citizen!

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8. The Ease of Fitting In. On a superficial level, I love Portland’s relaxed fashion sense because it means I can get away with wearing black sneakers to a bar instead of black pumps and still be seen as a babe. Simply put, no one cares what you wear because they are too busy judging you on what you’re drinking. A great example of this is at Rontom’s where the entire spectrum from flannel-wearing hipster chicks to cocktail-sipping sorority girls can be found on any given Friday night. Portland truly embodies the preschool values of befriending everyone based on character, not clothes!

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9. The King of All Harvests. Middle Eastern food occupies a sacred place in my heart and stomach. So I’m extremely picky as to what I dip my pita and cucumber into. Until June, I was faithful to only one homemade hummus brand in Denver, but that was before I was acquainted with King Harvest. This Portland brand is scrum-diddly-uptious! I took it upon myself to spend the summer taste testing all of the difference flavors and I can confidently report that you cannot make a wrong selection. I know, that was a total cop out, but I will give away a treasured Shop Adorn secret recipe (just don’t tell Kelsey, the creator!) Try dipping a traditional pretzel into the chipotle hummus and then topping with a dollop of honey. It is salty and smoky and sweet all at once!

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10. Forever Fit. Whether it is hiking, floating, cycling, or simply walking around the gorgeous downtown, there are so many ways to be active in the city! However, this argument could easily be made for any Northwestern city. What truly sets Portland apart is its combination of an active lifestyle with so many healthy food options. Almost every restaurant has caloric information published on the menu as well as many vegan alternatives. There’s nothing worse than eating at a chain restaurant where you know many of the ingredients have been flown in from across the country. In Portland, it seems like locally owned restaurants outnumber the chains!

Portland has truly stolen my heart and I know my future will involve my eventual return. My only regret of the summer is not buying a Portland-inspired shirt at the Saturday Market! My car does, however, sport an Oregon bumper sticker! I may not have been born here, but a girl can pretend, right?