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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

What I Ate in Portland

Here is a breakdown of the places that I visited in case you don't want the wordy explanations of why you should visit these places:
SANTERIA http://thesanteria.com
SCREEN DOOR http://screendoorrestaurant.com
KOPI COFFEE http://bit.ly/1WV5zvb
NONG'S KHAO MAN GAI http://khaomangai.com
VOODOO DOUGHNUTS http://voodoodoughnut.com
BREWED http://www.brewedcafepub.com
CUP & BAR http://www.cupandbar.com
BLUE STAR DONUTS http://www.bluestardonuts.com
PBJGRILLED http://www.pbjsgrilled.com
POTATO CHAMPION http://www.potatochampion.com
PIP'S DONUTS http://bit.ly/1pnQfww
SALT & STRAW http://saltandstraw.com

SANTERIA http://thesanteria.com

  • 1 location (Downtown Portland)
  • Mexican Food
  • Must try: Desebrada Chimichanga
  • FYI: Open late (til 2 am)

SCREEN DOOR http://screendoorrestaurant.com

  • 1 location (off Burnside Street)
  • Creole/Cajun Food
  • Must try: Hot Dark Chocolate 
  • FYI: Get there early! Most days this place is super busy, but I was fortunate enough to only wait 30 minutes


KOPI COFFEE http://bit.ly/1WV5zvb

  • 1 location (off Burnside Street, right next to Screen Door)
  • Southeast Asian Coffee
  • Must try: Thai Tea
  • FYI: This is definitely something you might need to get accustomed to


NONG'S KHAO MAN GAI http://khaomangai.com

  • 1 location + 2 food carts
  • Thai Food
  • Must try: Khao Man Gai
  • FYI: DO NOT ORDER THEIR THAI TEA. You'll definitely regret this purchase.

VOODOO DOUGHNUTS http://voodoodoughnut.com

  • 2 locations
  • Donuts
  • Must try: Didn't sample too many things, but I liked their glazed donut
  • FYI: Voodoo Too (the second location) has better rating on yelp


BREWED http://www.brewedcafepub.com

  • 1 location in Vancouver, WA
  • Coffee, bear and wine
  • Must try: Kumbacha
  • FYI: Once a month they have comedy nights!!


CUP & BAR http://www.cupandbar.com

  • 1 location
  • Coffee & Chocolate
  • Must try: Con Panna
  • FYI: SUPER bike friendly. You can bring your bikes into the shop and mount them onto the wall


BLUE STAR DONUTS http://www.bluestardonuts.com

  • 3 locations in Portland + 1 in L.A. + 1 in Tokyo
  • Donuts
  • Must try: The O.G. Glazed, hands down
  • FYI: These donuts are on the pricier side but they are so high quality it's worth every penny


PBJGRILLED http://www.pbjsgrilled.com

  • 1 location (Hawthorne Blvd)
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly styled sandwiches
  • Must try: Smoking Goat
  • FYI: Share with friends so you can try multiple food carts!


POTATO CHAMPION http://www.potatochampion.com
  • 1 location (Hawthorne Blvd)
  • Poutine
  • Must try: Satay Poutine
  • FYI: Order the smallest size because it's very filling

PIP'S DONUTS http://bit.ly/1pnQfww
  • 1 location
  • Chai and Donuts
  • Must try: Ginger Rodgers
  • FYI: Do not visit if you've already eaten donuts today

SALT & STRAW http://saltandstraw.com
  • 3 locations in Portland + 2 in L.A.
  • Homemade Ice Cream
  • Must try: Stumptown Coffee and Burnside Bourbon
  • FYI: There's not an actual age restriction on the 'Kids Cone' :)


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Travel Tips for First Time Travelers

Going to Portland was my first adventure where I did very 'adult' things. I bought my first plane ticket and rented my first car. So I've compiled a list of tips for first time travelers.

1. OVER PREPARE

I had booked Spirit Airlines with reluctance. I had saw so many videos saying how terrible it is in terms of service and having to pay for everything. I had wanted to bring my Jansport backpack which went over their height limit by .75 inches. I called their customer service and they stressed as long as my bag fit in the seat in front me, I will not be charged the "Carry-on fee". Okay great. I went to pack my bag and had a freak out moment because I thought I had over packed since my bag was started to bulge. This was a blessing in disguise because unloading my bag of unnecessary things made my trip easier to travel light. I had also preplanned my outfits and toiletries so I wouldn't have a lot of unnecessary items to carry and everything I brought I used. I had also reserved my rental car online prior to arriving to ensure I would have a car and prepaid for gas for when I returned the car (not sure if that was the best option but let me know what you have done).

2. CALL AHEAD AND ALWAYS ASK QUESTIONS

With my first tip, I called the airline customer service to verify the carry-on rule. I had also called my hotel to let them know I will be arriving at a really late time. Not sure if that would have affected anything, but I'd imagine that them knowing I was showing up really late would alleviate their stress of wondering where I am. I'd like to believe that right? Anyway, during this call (I had read on their website they charge for overnight parking in their garage) I had asked if they include free parking. Unfortunately, they charge $30 a night but because I had told her that I was coming in so late, she had suggested to park on the street overnight for FREE because the parking meters typically run from 8am to 8pm, and then wake up in the morning to pay by the hour for parking. Thank you to the front desk lady who had given me this information. I had saved $52 from NOT parking in their garage ($60 minus the $8 I had put in the meters in the morning). Personal WIN!

3. PLAN OUT YOUR ITINERARY 

I had less than 48 hours to be in Portland. I had arrived around 10pm Thursday night and I had left around 8pm Saturday night. Realistically, I had about 26 hours accounting for sleeping. So I had written down everything I wanted to do/see and organized them in a way that would allow for them to all fit. Multnomah Falls was a must, so this drove my reason to rent a car versus taking Uber. I figured I wouldn't be back in Portland for awhile so this is a must see. Screen Door, Voodoo Doughnuts, Powell's Bookstore, Nong's Khao Man Gai, Pip's Doughnuts, Salt & Straw and PDX Bike Tour were necessary on our itinerary. So assuming each meal would take an hour long and bike tour would take approx 2.5 hours and mapping out each destination, I organized the events as such:

Thursday: 
- Arrive around 10:30 pm
- Get car @ 11 pm
- Check-in Hotel around 11:30 pm
Friday:
- Multnomah Falls
- Powell's Bookstore/Voodoo Doughnuts  (because they were within a block of each other)
Saturday:
- Bike Tour @ 9 am
- Pip's Doughnuts
- Dinner ?? @ 4:30 pm
- Return Car by 6 pm

Which leads me to my next tip

4. ALLOW FOR SPONTANEITY

With having everything laid out, I knew where I would and would not have time to do things. Clearly Friday was the day to fit most things in because there weren't any restrictions on arrival or departing. I was hungry when I arrived in Portland, so I yelped restaurants open at 12 am and found Santeria; after eating at Screen Door we stumbled upon Kopi Coffee; after seeing the Falls we made a view stop at the the Columbia River and stopped at the outlet stores; and made an impromptu trip to Vancouver, WA after eating dinner. Each of these little finds made my trip memorable and I'm so glad I got to experience each stop and food I ate.

With that being said, I wish you first time travelers the best of luck on your trip and hope you have a great time. Please ask questions if there is anything specific you would like to know about traveling or what I did in Portland.

Have fun!