What to Do and See in Portland

In a recent post, I talked about how I wasn’t that amazed by Portland. It’s not that I didn’t like parts, it just didn’t have that special thing for me when I thought I’d absolutely love it. If you read it, you might have thought I didn’t enjoy my time there at all – that’s definitely not the case, so this post is here to show you what we did, liked and would recommend. Portland is still worth going to if you’re in Oregon; it didn’t shine for me, but it could for you!

Voodoo Doughnuts was our first stop, and a place I was determined to go to; a shop selling weirdly shaped colourful doughnuts?! Um, yes. You don’t have to tell me twice.

Tip #1: expect queues (lines, for you North American folk). It might look daunting but it doesn’t take up too much time. In the mean time, go on their website and look up what you want: it’s perfect time wasting, and you really are spoilt for choice. Tip #2: Take a moment to notice the glittery walls. Yes. Glittery walls.

Once we became part of the exclusive club that is The Queue Inside Voodoo Doughnuts, we were distracted. A man had just accepted… *drum roll* The Tex-Ass Challenge doughnut. During our online browsing, we came across what this was: eat a doughnut (equalling six of their other doughnuts in size) under 80 seconds, and get your money back. Needless to say, they make a big deal of someone accepting. The whole line looked on, half flummoxed, half intrigued, while I noticed his girlfriend looking on, strangely proud – but everyone was united in cheering him on. Aided with just a cup of water to dunk the dry, sugary doughnut in, he did it. I can now say I witnessed someone take the Tex-Ass Challenge and conquer it! What a moment.

The interior of Voodoo Doughnuts is every bit as strange as you’d expect. A couple of golden chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, one completely wonky, yanking out at sharp angles. The doughnuts looked like prize jewels, swivelling on rotating tiered plates, but the biggest doughnut of all was the one on the ceiling, looking like it came right out of Homer Simpson’s dreams.

We chose these 3 things:

  • Voodoo Doll Doughnut (apparently each is different, so you get your own unique little friend)
  • The Loop doughnut
  • Diablos Rex doughnut

The doughnuts are shockingly cheap (which makes the Tex-Ass Challenge even more amusing). We paid under $4 for all three of ours, something we weren’t expecting considering the fame of the place. Oh, and by the way, it comes in a pink box. When would you ever not want this in your life?

Next stop was Powell’s City of Books. It’s a maze of books, room after room, category after category. It’s well worth browsing, or perhaps getting a Portland coaster (I really like it).

We’ve covered quirky doughnuts and books… how about beer next? Portland’s known for its craft beer – a reason why my boyfriend in particular was excited for Portland. So with a short time in Portland, how best to experience all that beer? Answer: Brewcycle. I highly recommend going on a Brewcycle tour: you get to meet some new people, tour around Portland’s bars experiencing their beer, plus cycle a damn weird multi-seat “bike”, which is interesting to say the least (it’s like London’s Pedibus). My warning is that you could get a little drunk… and in those times I was extremely happy I was in such a quiet city. London traffic would not have been my friend.

Our tour/beer guide!

Possibly my favourite part of the city was Washington Park’s Rose Garden. I loved it.

Walking up to it was made a bit of a challenge given the huge hills, but we finally saw what I had been craving: life. Well, in terms of obvious residential houses, lining the streets with perfectly manicured gardens and cute coloured wooden doors. It no longer felt like a ghost town, and my spirits immediately perked up – and along with that, inevitably so does my camera.

The rows of roses were beautiful. All different colours, even multi-colours, even archways of roses you could walk under. I was like a kid in a candy shop, selecting my favourite by dipping my nose into the silky soft petals. I played amongst them, mocking photoshoots and some people with an action-pose tendency. I tested out settings on my camera, ever learning to master the skills to get to that illusive Manual Mode.

Washington Park reminded me of something Vancouver might have, which I suppose from my lovely experience there, warmed me to Portland a bit more that day.

Look at me running through roses - oh, what's that? A camera?

Look at me running through roses – oh, what’s that? A camera? Also, note the topical dress. Coincidental, I swear…

Alan taking a whiff

Alan taking a whiff


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