As a bibliophile and foodie, my excursions into my city tend to include the best bookstore in the world and one of many interesting eateries. The nice thing about where I live is that I am never more than sixty minutes away from snow-capped mountains, sprawling beaches, and of course, downtown Portland- the paradise of the wanderer, book-lover, and hipster. To be honest, I never really appreciated my wonderful city until recently. The threat of leaving for college and numerous final attempts to get to know Portland has changed my feelings from apathy to love.
Downtown is a popular spot for field trips. In elementary school, we explored places of significance, like the Benson bubblers (a Portland public drinking fountain), Skidmore fountain, and Chinatown. In high school, the teachers relinquished their supervision, and we were free to explore. The class scattered in search of food, and found a gold mine: Multiple Ben and Jerry’s shops, the world-famous Voodoo donuts (Which, I am afraid is worth the visit for the decor rather than the donuts), various tiny eateries (Nuvrei Cafe sells scrumptious macaroons, Daily Cafe has fluffy griddlecakes), and best of all: the Portland Food carts: an entire block of them. They sell a variety of food for those with any craving, or any diet restriction possible. The yumminess of the food rivals most restaurants, and it’s nice to eat in the middle of the beautiful city.
The Willamette river, which bisects downtown, is spanned by many bridges, like the white, arched Fremont bridge, the green St. Johns bridge, the red Steel bridge, and the rest, all stunning, especially when viewed together (perhaps from the top of a Ferris wheel during the annual Rose Festival Carnival?). This provides a great (but often underappreciated) reason to visit Portland; It is pretty. It’s not grand; there aren’t any sweeping skyscrapers or marvels of architecture here, unless you visit the art museum. Portland’s beauty is more understated. It’s subtle, like murals in unexpected places, or the cloudy skies that mute colors and make everything look serene. That’s not to say that there are not any sights to behold. Quite the opposite! The fashion in Portland is quite eccentric and bold and of course, there are places like Powell’s.
For me, no Portland excursion is ever complete without a visit to Powell’s City of Books. An entire block is devoted to books. It’s a representation of everything that Portlanders love: books (obviously), art (there’s a gallery on the third floor), food (a cafe), and local things (and it’s independently owned). However, be warned. Powell’s is a deadly trap for unwary bookworms. From the entrance that leads to the green room, various passageways branch out to different rooms: orange for crafts, blue for literature, rose for children’s… This maze is perfect for browsing; it is almost impossible to know which books inhabit the next turn. The shelves are tall, and look slightly disorganized. This is an illusion, as everything is perfectly in order and can be found on a map, but it emanates an aura of quirkiness, and it’s so much better to just lose yourself in the books. The best people can be found in Portland bookstores. An English teacher that spends half an hour helping me find books for school; a Toni Morrison fan that gives me a mini-summary of each work, and various people who assert that the book I am looking at is a good read are among the sweetest.
So now I look forward to exploring, wandering stacks of books, discovering a new favorite restaurant, and introducing someone new to Portland.
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