Free Rail Zone
The most economical and amazing part of Portland is the Trimet: MAX Light Rail system. It’s a very clean, very easy to navigate mode of public transportation. A ticket from the Portland International Airport to downtown Portland costs a mere $2.35 and takes about 40 minutes. Pick a hotel inside the borders of the “Free Rail Zone” (pretty much all of downtown) and all your rides to and from museums, restaurants, shopping etc.. are FREE. Just get on and get off like you own the place.
Portland is one of the safest cities for walking around in I have ever visited. I’m strictly talking about the fact that all the cars in downtown Portland STOP at yellow lights. Yes, they actually stop and let the light turn red. I noticed pretty early on that crosswalks rarely had the button to press to get the little red hand to turn to a green walking person. Still, I never waited at all to cross the street. Pedestrians definitely rule the roads. However, my safety rating does not really considering the kind of other pedestrians you’ll be encountering. Portland, OR does have its fair share of homeless people, hippies trying bum cigarettes, and when I was there in early September there were an awful lot of pasty teenagers in anime costumes. (see Kumoricon 2010 – http://www.kumoricon.org/)
If you want Food Truck food, don’t look for it on a Saturday
Portland has a bustling food cart community unlike anything I’ve ever seen or heard of. Unfortunately, I was only there for a weekend and missed out on tasting the highly reviewed wares of such places as “Give Pizza a Chance,” “Potato Champion,” or “Lovin Spoonful.” I still had a chance to walk around a few of the blocks designated solely as parking spots for these colorful mini restaurants with clever names and even more creative menus.
If you’re looking for Superdog, relax, there are two
After a 15 minute long heated debate about which direction to head in for the “ultimate sausage experience”, my travel buddy and I realized we were smack in the middle of both Superdog locations. There is one on 1033 SW 6th Avenue and one on 1438 SW Park Avenue. We ate at the one on Park, since it was closer to our hotel, Hotel Modera. I had the Double Smokie, Portland Style, (grilled peppers, onions, mushrooms and Swiss), creamy potato salad and a Superdog Ale. It was a deliciously classic lunch, but next time I’m dying to try something more experimental like a Parmesan Chicken Sausage, Italian Stallion Style with grilled peppers and onions, Parmesan cheese and marinara sauce, or the Habanero Chicken Sausage – Nacho Style.
Baileys Tap Room is awesome
Portland is definitely known for its many breweries and pubs, but we’ve been to lots of great breweries and pubs all over and wanted to bypass all the crowds and flat screens and combo appetizers and just try some great beer. Bailey’s Tap Room offers a sampler of five 5oz. glasses of any of their 20 beers on tap for only $7.50! A pint is 4.50, 10oz. for $2.50. The selection is as appealing as it is eclectic. The lighting is low, the service is on point, the patrons are the perfect balance of genuinely enjoying themselves and being respectful of personal space. The music could be the soundtrack of the next great indie film, but not so obscure. Bailey’s Tap Room is the perfect place to hang out and drink really good beer.
Sushi, not so hot
For some reason we were under the impression that Portland has great sushi. We yelped like crazy all over downtown, and couldn’t find a place with tempting enough reviews. We ended up at Mika Sushi, because it was near the hotel and had good reviews and decent prices. And that is all it was – sushi was good, not great, prices were decent. Maybe you have to travel outside the free rail zone to get fantastic fish.
Voodoo Donut is open 24 hours, use that to your advantage
The infamous Voodoo Donut is open all day long, and every time we got close enough to smell the tantalizing aroma of freshly baked donuts we were quickly turned off by the lengthy line winding around the building and down the street. We never got the chance to try one of the bacon topped marvels or breakfast cereal coated pastries, but I heard that early in the morning 5-7am is the time to try on weekends.
If all else fails, try a market
Portland is famous for bustling outdoor markets like the Portland Saturday Market and Portland Farmers Markets. They’re a great way to kill some time, perusing the arts and crafts, sampling snacks of all different cultures and some solid good old-fashioned people watching.