First of all, let's get this out of the way: Portland is fucking beautiful. Look at these fucking mountains:
|Nature in your face.|
The first area of the city we stumbled into was the Pearl District, where we saw one Portland landmark right off the bat.
|Words to live by.|
A few days later we went to Powell's World of Books, which really deserves its own post that I might write at some point, but just so you know it contains over four million books both used and new, takes up an entire city block, and is the largest independent bookstore in the world. There were also a lot of smaller independent bookstores and even though we didn't go in any of them I'm certain that if we lived there I'd never step foot in a Barnes & Noble again. (Not that I do that now.)
|Four million books!!|
|Just one of Portland's eight bridges. Pittsburgh has more, but it's not a pissing contest (or is it??).|
The public transportation in Portland is amazing, especially for such a small city. I never waited more than twenty minutes for a train or bus, and that was at night. Every stop was announced both over the loudspeaker and visually (in Baltimore they usually skip a few, especially at night when I can't always see where I am, and the trains don't have a visual display). It's also super easy to roll your bike onto the train and they have bike hangers for them. They actually want you to ride your bike in Portland! Bike lanes were fucking everywhere and weren't full of cracks and debris. Drivers are not insane and they will stop for pedestrians. Since I have given up trying to get a driver's license, it's very important to me that wherever I live permanently is a good place for non-drivers.
|Happy little streetcars.|
We went to all four quadrants of the city, though all of our neighborhood walking was on the east side (the side with the cheaper rent). It rained more days than it didn't but when it wasn't raining there was zero humidity. I thought the weather was awesome, actually. And while Portlandia is more fiction than fact there are certain "trapped in the nineties" details like free-standing record stores and even a Suncoast in the mall. I was really excited about the Suncoast.
Up next: beer and food of Portland, or, why I may turn into a foodie after all!