Weekend in Portland ~ Land of Hipsters, Craft Beer & Powell’s Books

The search for great cities.


Heading to Portland for the weekend is sort of like a rite of passage for many people living in Vancouver.  The craft beer beckons – (“a 6-pack for less than 7 dollars, that’s crazy!” says Daryl) – as do the great restaurants, the food trucks, and of course, Powell’s Books.  Who can resist a book store that’s larger than a city block, with every book imaginable?  I’m old school, and still prefer a book that you can take in the bath, get dirty on a beach, and have no need to plug in to recharge.  So we decided to head to Portland, Oregon for the weekend to check out the Northwest Conference for Social Justice, which turned out to be one of the most amazing education conferences we’d ever been to.  Definitely would recommend this year’s conference in Seattle to any teachers out there.

Off we went.  The first thing we remembered is that Portland is actually really far from Vancouver — it’s like a weekend getaway that deserves 5 days.  Surprise! There is endless highway between Seattle and Portland.  Silly Canadians.  We arrived in the city at 9:30pm with rain pelting down on our windshield, and felt… right at home.   I’ve argued many times that the Pacific Northwest is a region and culture unto itself, with lots in common despite the border between us.  And it’s true.  Portland does feel a lot like home, and it’s a city we’d return to in a heartbeat.

A few great finds…

1. Powell’s Books – as mentioned above, but really deserving of a second mention.  Book lover’s delight.

2. Beer, beer, beer.  We headed to the Deschutes brewery, but Portland is the land and heart of craft beer.  This was just the beginning though, and perhaps a return during Craft Beer Festival is in order.

3. Great record stores.  Portland hipsters would make great friends with Vancouver hipsters, because they would have lots in common and speak the same ‘Whole Foods, Farmers Market, Bicycles’ kind of language.  Have you seen episodes from Portlandia?  Hilarious, and also slightly embarrassing, in one of those “oh, is this kind of about me?” sort of way.  ‘Put a Bird on It’ episode is a gem.

4. Food Trucks.  And the most delicious ones in the world.  Every type of food you can imagine, and all of it given to you in a wrapper made from recycled materials.   The first time I visited Peru, I ate a lot of ‘meat on a stick’ meals — pretty straight forward street meat comprised of a wooden bbq skewer with a hunk of surprise meat and a giant potato.  Thus began my love affair with street food.  I’m so pleased at how well it has since adapted to North America.

Any further recommendations for great spots in Portland?  We will most definitely return.  My friend Jason is raving about a tiny convenience store on the outskirts of town that sells over 500 different types of craft beer inside…