Jordan and I just finished a trip out to Seattle and Portland (Vancouver just missed the cut) last week. We had a great time in both cities. Photos are here. We’d both been to Seattle before (I made a few trips out there while Joseph was at U-Dub) but it was our first time in Portland. It was quite a shock to be back in gray NYC after marinating in all that lush green. Here’s what I remember of the trip:
We got to downtown Seattle around 1pm on Monday, and we decided to spend some time at Pike Place Market, grabbing lunch at The Pink Door and checking out the different shops and stalls. We paused for the obligatory low-flying fish song-and-dance at the fish market. Later that evening we saw Charlie and Jason the first night we were in Seattle, forgetting jet lag while having a great meal at a Tapas restaurant downtown.
We walked around Pioneer Square and grabbed Breakfast and books at the Elliott Bay Book Company. We then headed south a bit to the International District, wandering the isles of the Uwajimaya before meeting up with Christine for lunch. Christine took us around her work neighborhood. Particularly interesting was the shop that was one-half sealed Transformers toys from the original toy run in the 80s, and one-half generic Chinatown tchochkes.
From the ID we moved on to the U District, and spent some time on campus at UW. It was too cloudy to see Mt. Rainier from the central vista on campus, so we just walked around a bit before heading out. We met up with Cory and Dan for dinner in Wallingford, and they showed us their house-in-progress. At this point I have to say that real estate in both Seattle and Portland underscored the ridiculousness of the NY area housing/rental market. Cory took us out to Gas Works park to watch the sunset. I suspect she was trying to sell us on the city, and she did a very good job.
We grabbed breakfast and went to check out the Seattle Public Library, designed by Rem Koolhaas. I went shutter-happy with the camera, what with all the primary colors and cool light patterns. After having our retinas burnt out by the red floor, we picked up our rental car (they gave us a choice of either an SUV or a Prius. We took the Prius) and drove out to the ferry landings. We took the ferry out to Bainbridge island, and somehow in looking for the Bainbridge Island Winery we managed to drive right off the island. It’s probably a 10 minute drive across the entire island, North to South. We eventually found the winery after lunch, but to our disappointment they only hold tastings on Fri/Sat/Sun. We picked up a bottle of Pinot Gris anyway and made our way to the ferry for the ride back to Seattle.
Dinner that evening was at Anthony’s at Pier 66, where Jordan and I gorged on good seafood. We decided while waiting for the bus that the one major shortcoming of Seattle is the lack of a more comprehensive public transit system. Sometimes you can’t cycle everywhere, you know.
After checking out we drove out to see Britt, Izumi, and Kaia for breakfast at their new home. I’d last seen the family almost three years ago in Japan when Joseph and I made our trip out there. It was nice to catch up with them again, and see how much Kaia had grown. He’s quite the chatty kid now, and he climbed the tree in their backyard to pluck us a few plums. I’m hoping it’s not another three years before we all see each other again.
After breakfast we were off to Portland. The trip was mostly uneventful, with the exception of spotting the Sleater-Kinney exit. We took a quick diversion to the Columbia River Gorge to view some waterfalls and vistas. We arrived in Portland in the early evening, checked into the new Ace Hotel (which had quite the neighborhood buzz -- all the Portland residents we visited were curious about it). We checked out Powell’s and a bit of the Pearl District before having dinner at Clyde Common, which is the restaurant attached to the Ace Hotel.
We took a trip out to Cannon Beach, which is a pleasant drive through some very green hills. We had hoped that the sun would break through the clouds, but it was mostly gray. We had lunch at the Ecola Seafood, after which we decided to see just a bit more of the shops down the main drag. We had gone just half a block when we ran smack dab into my freshman year hallmate Karen Murray (now Hardigg)! I think we scared everyone around us, we yelled so loud when we saw each other. We’d been hoping to find her while out in Portland, since we knew that she had a house there with her husband Nick. Unfortunately my email announcing our trip west wasn’t met with a reply — because it turns out she and Nick had moved to Anchorage, AK. Crazy. Yet more proof that God has a sense of humor. After our return to Portland in the afternoon we took a quick swing through east Portland.
We grabbed dinner at Ten 01 and then rode the streetcar out to northwest Portland to catch the tail end of a dinner party hosted by Erin and Peter. We got the scoop on their summer in London, as well as a possible move to Brooklyn next year. They gave us a few suggestions on what to do with our last day in Portland, and also kindly dropped us off at our hotel since the streetcar had to go to sleep for the night.
We bounced around a bunch of neighborhoods. We grabbed breakfast in the Pearl District, then headed back to the nortwest to see more of that neighborhood during the daytime hours. We then rode the bus out to the Saturday/Sunday Market, and swam through a sea of arts-and-crafts. Picking up the car we went back west to Washington Park to check out the the Rose Test Garden. Then it was a quick dinner, followed by another stop at Erin/Peter’s to crash another party of theirs, this time a backyard BBQ. A few salmon burgers later we were on the road to the airport.
If you’re renting from one city and dropping off in another one, don’t be an idiot like me and fail to look up your dropoff point on a map. I assumed that our rental agency would have a drop point at the Portland airport, but it turns out they didn’t. After several phone calls to clueless centralized booking agents we just decided to check with the concierge at one of the hotel airports, and they directed us to the car dropoff, about a mile away.
Six red-eye hours later, we were back in NY. We wished we could’ve had maybe one more day for each of the cities, but it was a great trip nonetheless. Jordan may add a bit more on the trip from her perspective, so keep an eye out for that.