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The Pearl of Portland

March 27, 2013

On our last afternoon in Portland we really wanted to wander around and explore the city itself.  The majority of our adventures had taken us outside the city (waterfalls and concerts and wine, oh my!), so we wanted to get a feel for what downtown had to offer.  After brunch at the Screen Door, we headed over to the Pearl District of downtown Portland with plans to wander, shop and try not to eat any more.

Pearl District

None of us were on the mission to buy anything in particular and just wanted to check out interesting places and amuse ourselves.  We started at Portland’s famous Powell’s City of Books.

Powell's Books Entrance

Powell’s takes up a full city block with multiple stories of new and used books on any subject you could imagine.  I’ve always loved book stores and felt like a kid in a candy store in this one.

Powell's Books

It was so huge that there were signs everywhere directing shoppers to other sections and it seemed like an easy place to get lost.  (They have more than 1 million books there!) I easily could have spent a day here perusing the staff recommendations and hunting for good used books.

Powell's Books

Because we were not going to spend a whole day looking at books, we moved on down the street.  We popped in and out of several interesting boutiques.  One of the coolest was Cargo, a huge store selling Asian imports.

Cargo

Have you ever tried to play a singing bowl? It's so much harder than it appears!

Have you ever tried to play a singing bowl? It’s so much harder than it appears!

It was a really fun store to just look around and I’d imagine it would be a great place to buy gifts.

Cargo

Or pick up gems like this:

Cargo

A little later, it was time for a coffee break.  I still hadn’t tried Portland’s famous Stumptown espresso, so we stopped at Barista, a coffee shop offering several choices of espresso for your lattes.

Barista

I ordered a soy latte made with Stumptown’s El Puente (I think?) espresso.  It was perfectly foamy and creamy.  I don’t think I’m enough of a coffee connoisseur to really distinguish between different varieties of espresso in my latte (unless it was really bad or bitter), but it was definitely a good cup of coffee.

Barista

And apparently you can’t get a job as a barista in Portland without some serious latte art skills.

Barista latte art

We sat on their patio and enjoyed our coffee for a while before roaming around a bit more.  Right next to Barista there was a wonderful home goods and jewelry store called Hunt & Gather.  They had really unique pieces of home décor, but I spent most of my time in the corner where their jewelry was displayed.  They carry jewelry handmade by a variety of local artists, some of it at very affordable prices.  I ended up picking up a pair of earrings for myself and one to give as a gift.

Another store that I enjoyed was Lizard Lounge, a cool space with an awesomely curated selection of men and women’s clothing.  The prices were a little steep and I wasn’t in the mood to try anything on after all of the weekend’s binging, but they had some really cool stuff.

Pearl District

From there, we wandered around downtown quite a bit, ducking into more stores and passing some of Portland’s famous food trucks.

Portland Food Trucks

For our last stop of the trip, we headed over to Deschutes Brewery to sit and have a beer before heading to the airport.  I’d seen a few of Deschutes’ beers on menus before, but never anything like the large selection they had at the brewery itself.  I tried a Red Chair NWPA that had a lot of the flavors I usually like in IPAs without the crazy hops that I usually hate.  Plus the brewery was a cool space to sit and chat a little longer before the vacation had to end.

Deschutes Brewery

On the drive to the airport for our evening flight, we were already discussing a return trip.  And what we’d do if we won the lottery, but I think the odds are much better that we’ll sneak in another Portland trip sooner than later.

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