48 Hours in Portland

18 Sep

I still had six hours before my red eye flight back to New York took off. I was sitting at Jake’s, after a two-and-a-half-hour walking tour, three local draft beers in three different bars and a half dozen oysters. Feeling a little tired and tipsy and realizing I still needed to drive my rental car back to the airport later, I decided to skip the class of chardonnay I was going to order. My waitress Stephanie strongly recommended the Sunset Beach Oysters from Hood Canal, Washington as I told her I love big and fat oysters.

Sunset Beach Oysters at Jake's

“Anything to drink?”

“No, thanks. I’ve been drinking beers all afternoon. Portland has great beers!”

“We absolutely do! I’ll bring you some bread and iced water. They are good to sober you up.”

Stephanie’s recommendation turned out to be excellent. The oysters were so fresh, fat and juicy. I washed down my second half dozen oysters of that day with a glass of Portland’s sweet iced tap water, feeling sober enough to drive.

Jake’s apparently is one of the most well-known restaurants in town. About 20 minutes after I sat down at the table set up on the curb, I overheard the waiting time for a table was around 40 minutes. I looked at my iPhone, it was only 5:50pm.

For entree, I ordered Seafood Newburg–sauteed prawns and scallops in a lobster cream sauce. It was a fantastic meal but what made the dining experience more lovely was watching Stephanie greeting old customers with a big smile and reading Jake’s menu where I found a story about the history of this 119-year-old seafood restaurant.

Jake's Seafood Newburg

Across the street, there was Kenny & Zuke’s, where I had my brunch that morning. I waited for a half hour to get a small table at around 12pm. When I finished my last piece of bacon, it was 1:20pm and there were still a long line outside of the restaurant. But the line of Kenny & Zuke’s was actually much shorter than Mother’s Bistro, where I was told the waiting time for brunch that morning would be more than 2 hours. I had dinner at Mother’s Bistro the night before. After spending a long day at Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood, taking photos and hiking, I finished the “Cascade Natural” Beef Pot Roast served with a rich & velvety gravy, smashed red potatoes and sauteed green beans and a glass of Oregon red wine in 20 minutes.

Brunch at Kenny & Zuke's

Brunch crowd outside Kenny & Zuke's

48 hours in Portland is of course so much more than great food, beers, wines, friendly bartenders and waitresses who are enthusiastic about telling people how great Portland is.

The historic scenic drive Route 30 is filled with mysterious waterfalls; Mount Hood not only has breathtaking views for road trip lovers, but also long trails for serious hikers and vineyards for wine lovers; TriMet, Portland’s public transportation system has a huge free zone and what makes everyone happy is there is no sale tax!

Mount Hood (Some smoke caused by a wild fire)

Vista House on Route 30

Kids & Waterfall

Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls

Besides all the above, Portland is just a cute and smart city with self-maintained solar-powered garbage cans that don’t need to be cleaned out for every eight months, colored bike lanes on almost every street and unfiltered but sweet water pumping out from public water fountains.

A summer afternoon in downtown Portland

A summer afternoon in downtown Portland

Who doesn't like bikes?

During my 48-hour visit, I spent a lot of time thinking about Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrove who purchased downtown Portland for 50 cents and named the town in 1845. Sitting on a bench on the bank of Willamette River and watching time passing by as the river running through the center of the city, I was wondering how many things have changed in the last 166 years–the buildings, the bridges, the boats and the people. But there are also things that have never changed —the running river and the snow capped Mount Hood and Mount Saint Helens in the backdrop.

Take a closer look at Mount Hood

I told Stephenie I was totally full and had to pass the very tempting desert. On my check, it was a whole number, no tax, of course.

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