I was infatuated with a place I hadn't yet experienced.
I imagined my future, sipping freshly brewed coffee at my lover's cafe, a few stoned blocks away from my design studio. The gloomy day would be mostly inspiring, surrounded by earthy scents and lavish vegetables. The street corners would appear eerie and laid back, as if the entire city was silently sacred. I would write in my journal at a carefully, handcrafted wooden table, planning weekend explorations in the mountains with my love and my dog.
When people asked me why I wanted to move to Portland, Oregon, my answer was simply, "Just because...well, it feels like the right place for me."
How could I know with unseen eyes? When you are in love with someone, you find quirky traits about that person to reason your attraction, such as the way he pronounces thirty with his accent, but when you are left speechless, the truth is, you love that person, because you just do. Urges buried within the soul know what is best for you.
Even though I was already convinced prior to Chicago departure, my boyfriend and I spent five days in Portland last week to thoroughly understand what the fuss was all about. I heard of the excessive amounts of rain and the Keep Portland Weird motto, characteristics one either can or can't live without. The hype appealed to me and I couldn't wait to swim in the water.
N E I G H B O R H O O D S & H O U S E S
One of the dearest parts of discovering Portland was walking around the neighborhoods and looking at houses. Each yard lived in a magical world where elves and fairies thrived; covered in vivid green moss, brilliantly bloomed flowers, and glimmering glass lights. I was prepared to come across a whispering garden gnome lurking behind stumps, cultivating mushrooms.
We mostly wandered through the streets of South East Portland, between Hawthorne and Division.
We also found adorable homes around North West 23rd & 21st. We hiked up along the border of Forest Park, with distant views of mountain backdrops behind the city.
We stayed at The Nines hotel in the city center for a majority of the week, which was luxurious and a perfect location in the middle of everything we needed. The train and buses were directly across the street. The public transit was convenient in most parts of the city, but walking was doable too.
Our favorite neighborhood was Multnomah Village, where we were lucky enough to spend a few days and one overnight in the stunning home of Chad and Natasha, a couple my mom and I met while traveling in Japan five years ago! They were incredibly helpful in recommending places to visit during our stay, they took us to dinner at Ava Gene's, followed by ice cream at Salt & Straw, and one night Natasha cooked us a homemade curry dinner. Stefan and I toured their neighborhood with hopeless romantic hearts. The land was hilly, protected by mighty pines, leaving a glimpse visibility of the mountains along the West Coast. We stumbled upon a community garden and a pathway that lead to a hidden forest, pictured below.
P L A N T S & T R E E S
One of my friends told me when she visited Portland, she mostly ate good food and looked at trees. She wasn't kidding. The variety in shades and shapes were unreal, with crazy twisted and tangled branches, old and new. We were surprised by how many tropical plants we found too. The pure rawness healed my wounds beyond measure.
Our biggest expedition was our day through Washington Park. We were exhausted at this point, but we spotted an abandoned house saturated with greens and we did a little photoshoot with tees from my upcoming collection.
We didn't get a chance to venture along the Columbia River Gorge, but its on my to do list with all of the beauty Oregon has to offer.
B U S E S & C A R T S
On the South East side of Portland we found two courtyards of trucks and renovated buses with the grooviest vibes, ranging in International foods, specialty cupcakes, gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and unique shops.
As I waited for my pb&j, (cinnamon raisin bread, peanut butter, apple butter, granola, bananas, and honey), I cherished the community of people lounging at nearby picnic tables and the man by my side. Portland felt like an ongoing festival and we had nowhere else to be. The garden was decorated with stringed light bulbs and sprinkled with pots, growing spices and herbs.
These chill zones are located on the corner of SE 12th & Hawthorne and off of SE Division.
F O O D & D R I N K
For almost any type of international cuisine we could wish for, we scoped the food carts at SW 10th & Adler.
Ava Gene's. Specialty Italian dishes with local produce and meats raised on Pacific Northwest farms.
Salt & Straw. Ice cream. I tried the Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper, which was interesting. I went with the Cinnamon Snickerdoodle and I devoured the cup within five minutes.
Ken's Artisan Bakery. Homemade bread and croissants. I had a tuna sandwich with mixed veggies on a butter croissant. Stefan had the same with a bacon quiche. Followed with tasty lattes brewed by Stumptown.
We enjoyed appetizers of chicken cherry sausage with gold potato puree and beef sliders at Urban Farmer.
My boyfriend grew up in Eastern Europe, so I surprised him with a dinner that was very familiar to his culture, at Kachka. We ordered the rabbit, cheese dumplings, and green pickled tomatoes, which were a traditional item in his mother's house.
For greasy, mouth-watering grilled breakfast sandwiches, we stopped by Brunchbox,
Bar Avignon. We enjoyed a romantic night with wine, cheese, and fruit!
I think I would be satisfied spending the rest of my life eating in Portland.
S H O P S & M A R K E T S
We spent a few short hours socializing in shops and markets downtown. We met a lot of people and artists who were pleasantly friendly. They were curious about us, generous enough to offer advice, and I was impressed by their knowledge of work and product.
My favorite shops were:
Tender Loving Empire - graphics, prints, crafts, accessories, home goods, local gifts, and a record label!
Woonwinkel - textiles, accessories, simple with a splash of bold and bright color, unique finds
Animal Traffic - a mixture of modern and vintage clothing
Covet and Ginger - pottery, cups, bowls, and mugs.: set up at the Pioneer Courthouse Square Market
Porch Light - textiles, home goods, decor, wall art, prints, purses, bags, skincare, plants, thoughtful gifts
Charming The Moon - accessories, textiles, bath soaps & salts, skin care, local jewelry & artists, tea leaves, wellness, home decor, diy workshops
I view these owners, founders, curators, makers, and doers as major influences and role models to what I aspire to be.
R A I N & R O S E S
I am back in Illinois and I am officially homesick for Portland, but I am not sad. I am the happiest I've been in a while. I envisioned what it would emotionally be like to partake in this one of a kind town for too long, and actualizing my dream was soothing to my anxiety. Portland was not precisely how I thought it would be. No place is the same as its idea or assumptions, compared to the reality of living and breathing in its moment. The real Portland, the one my own toes touched, is an ideal city for me, but I am not in a hurry. I am thrilled because I know that there is a place out there that I could be at peace with and that is utterly comforting. I am encouraged to live positively in the present. I feel it's important to be grateful for what I do have and to search for the goodness in every day, because life on Earth is extraordinary enough and I know that some day I will reach Heaven.