Though my last trip to Portland was almost 4 years ago, my love affair with the Pacific Northwest has never ceased. I am simply consistently enthralled by its scenery, amazing coffee, melancholy skies and fresh air. No matter how many times I visit, I still truly savor any opportunity to return to this gorgeous part of the US. While I used to frequent Seattle, I've found myself increasingly curious about Portland, which I have playfully deemed "Seattle's less neurotic cousin."
In the usual jolenegoes fashion, all food-related adventures will be documented in my Jolene Eats in Portland blog.
Brought together through a Jonas Brothers-related group chat, four of us decided to make our way to Portland for a girls weekend, to meet up with another member of our little group who lives in the Portland area. We arrived on a perfectly crisp, winter Thursday night, had dinner at Cracker Barrel, then headed to our gorgeous Airbnb for a good night's sleep.
The next morning, we were greeted with a beautifully clear, sunny sky. After a wonderful brunch, we began our exploration of the Pearl District, making our first stop at the famous Powell's City of Books. A bookworm's paradise, Powell's is a seemingly never-ending labyrinth of every kind of book you can imagine.
I may not have done any significant shopping at Powell's (I had just begun The Picture of Dorian Gray on our flight so I did not need any more books!), but the object of my shopping affection was located across the street.
During my first ever trip to Portland in 2010, young college Jolene bought her first pair of Dr. Martens boots in this exact Portland location. Those patent leather, floral-embossed boots have come with me on many trips, to many countries, and have helped me make many memories. However, 12 years later, said boots have begun to break down a bit (mostly because I did not take the best care of the leather). On this trip, I told myself I would go back to the store and buy a new pair of boots.
Though I was torn between two styles, I ultimately purchased a new pair of boots. My wallet may not have been happy. but I definitely was!
Our next stop was a very photogenic area, highly recommended by countless bloggers - Cathedral Park.
The sun had begun its descent, softening the light around us as we admired the majesty of St. John's Bridge.
We made our way down to to the waterfront, to a small dock being gently tossed by the river's current. Being lost in the vibrant blues and greens of North Portland was soothing, a refreshing deep breath from the busyness of downtown. I highly recommend a visit to Cathedral Park, even if it's a little out of the way.
Once we were satisfied with our photos and noticed the time, we returned back to our Airbnb and our group split for the evening. Mariah and I changed and got ready for the activity I was most excited about: curling! Yes, you read that correctly. CURLING.
Evergreen Curling Club is located about 25 minutes outside of Portland, and is a dedicated curling rink. Thanks to another blogger's list of "unique things to do in Portland," I stumbled upon Evergreen and booked a 2-hr session to learn how to curl. I've been fascinated by curling for years, even though I didn't know much about it or even understand all of its details. I was incredibly excited to not only learn about it, but play it myself.
When we walked through the doors, we were transported from an unassuming corporate park to the universe of curling. The temperature may have been cold when we walked in, but the atmosphere could not have been warmer. We felt welcomed by the staff and there seemed to be a very positive buzz in the air among the guests.
We signed in and were given wristbands that listed our team letter. We were helped with grippy shoe covers, watched a quick curling overview, were given the safety talk, and then we were on the ice!
Our team made its way to its designated corner, brooms in hand, excitedly chattering about what was to come. The demographic was unique and encouraging - there were players of all ages, of all skill types.
After 12 years of figure skating, I definitely was not afraid to fall, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't intimidated! Our instructors were knowledgeable and so passionate about curling - their demonstrations were impressive, especially up close. They showed us all of the basics, from delivery to sweeping. Eventually, we put all of the pieces together and were able to play two games against one of the other teams.
Time flew by because we were sincerely having so much fun. The atmosphere was wonderfully social without being too forced, and all of the instructors were incredibly positive and encouraging. I truly had a fun time and genuinely came to appreciate the intricacies of curling. I highly recommend a visit to Evergreen Curling Club if you are looking to do something unique in the Portland area!
We did go out for a late dinner and drinks afterwards (which will be detailed in my food blog), and made one last pitstop at the iconic Portland Theater sign. Since it was pretty late, the streets were empty and the sign was lit up beautifully. There was something very nostalgic and familiar about seeing the sign lit up that way, something cinematic and special.
We planned for an early Saturday morning to get donuts before making the trek to the famous Multnomah Falls. Since I was unable to visit Multnomah Falls in 2018 due to the fires, I was extra excited to climb to the top once again.
We began our leisurely drive on yet another beautifully sunny morning - even though I expected the usual Oregonian overcast skies, it seemed that this Californian brought the sunshine with her.
After an hour (what should have been 30 minutes), we finally arrived. Unfortunately Maps directed me in a way that I should have ignored. I had driven to Multnomah Falls before and was fully aware of the left side exit that leads directly to the larger parking lot. However, Maps directed me to exit at Bridal Veil Falls. Once we reached the Falls, the tiny parking lot was full and cars were starting to pile up waiting for spots to open. The larger parking lot still had plenty of parking, but to get back there, we had to take a long detour. If you are going to Multnomah Falls, take the exit on the left for Multnomah Falls – it’s easier and shorter.
I was fairly agitated by the length of the journey, in addition to almost being blown away by the icy wind, but the moment I saw the Falls, I was reminded why we were up so early on a Saturday morning.
There is something striking about Multnomah Falls, not solely due to its impressive height, but its majesty in general.
We began our trek up the main trail, taking full advantage of the photo opportunities on the way. This was the perfect way to break in my new Docs!
Once we reached the halfway point, half of our party decided to stay at the viewpoint instead of continuing to the top. The way is paved, but its steepness is not for the faint of heart – experienced hikers will probably scoff at the 1.25 mile distance each way, not realizing the incline is pretty significant. Hannah and I were determined to make it to the top, so we continued on.
I was living my best Oregonian life, “hiking” while surrounded by lush greenery and stunning views. The roads and cars disappeared from view as we continued our climb. “5 of 11 Switchbacks” slowly turned into “10 of 11 Switchbacks,” and we knew we had made it.
Reaching the top was incredibly satisfying, not just because we survived an unexpected leg day, but because the view was incredible. I loved seeing the source from the We soaked in the fresh, crispy air while we admired the jewel-toned river tossing about. Vacation is usually about getting away, and being at the top of the trail made me feel so far away, in the best way possible.
We of course took some photos at the top, before heading back down the same trail we walked up. On our way down, a fellow trail walker warned us that a tree had fallen between Switchbacks 6 and 7. When we approached the area we did in fact see a tree had fallen over the entire walkway, along with a large amount of debris. We had to physically climb over the tree trunk to keep on the path.
After a quick stop at the gift shop, we began our trip back to Portland to grab a bite to eat and freshen up. Once we had thoroughly enjoyed our tasty food and drinks, we big adieu to half of our group, as they had early flights the next morning. The rest of us went on a little late-night Portland adventure.
Our friend Holly took us to one of her favorite spots, Tilikum Crossing, a bridge that is only open to pedestrians and cyclists.
The Tilikum Crossing Bridge is quite a sight to behold, especially at night. Its architectural web glowed an otherworldly green as we approached it, cool breeze grazing our cheeks. The city skyline was breathtaking, and it was Portland’s perfect evening swan song, a last nighttime sendoff to end our trip.
We talked, we snapped photos, we inhaled the last bit of Portland’s nighttime magic. We prolonged the time as much as we could, but like all good things, our night had to come to an end.
We woke up the next morning prepared to say our final goodbyes, paying homage to Portland by having great coffee, great food, and finishing off with Salt & Straw.
Overall, we had a wonderful winter trip to Portland full of amazing sights, delicious bites and unique drinks. The energy of the city was calming, positive and fun. We encountered so many kind people, which made our trip even more enjoyable. Portland has so much to offer, and I was so happy to introduce this incredible city to some of my friends for the first time. I can’t wait to go back soon!
Have you ever been to Portland?
Until next time,