The atmosphere of Portland is hard to explain, as it is an alternative city. It is youthful and tremendously lively and is also a cultural center. It is very modern but still tied to its past. So here we present not a list of what to visit in Portland but a list of five experiences to do in this city that has to be experienced rather than to visit.
Drink a beer in a microbrewery -Also called Beervana, Portland is the American capital of microbreweries or the craft brewers. The beers that I drank were always very good. Here I tasted the beer flavored with cherry and fish. But the real love, at first sight, was the milk stout (beer brewed with lactose) and the sour beers. They a very complicated and risky production process as you do not know what can be the result until you taste.
There are scores of interesting microbreweries. But the most beautiful and the most rock and roll I have ever gone definitely is the Crystal Ballroom, in the Pearl District. This is a ballroom of 1914, where over the years they have hosted James Brown, Ike and Tina Turner, the Grateful Dead and the Electric Prunes. Today the ground floor houses a microbrewery with good beer, billiards, and the Rolling Stones pinball. The first floor continues to hold a rock concert on the same stage in a nice retro style.
Bike Rides -Portland is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the USA and the world. Riding through the streets here is a pleasure, which you can enjoy in complete safety. Here almost everyone uses a helmet and go on cool bikes. Yes, Portland is a bit hipster.
But back to the pleasure of biking. The city is not very big and the bike is a great way to see Portland. It is a viable option for riding an entire city even in America. Just outside downtown from the suburbs are surrounded by greenery and full of public parks where you can pedal amidst trees and ponds. To the northwest of the city stretches Forest Park which is a veritable urban forest!
I managed to do these two things at once, biking and sampling a lot of beers, thanks to my driving partner with whom I did a guided tour by bike of microbreweries and East Portland.
Portland food carts -The other thing that Portland is famous, in addition to bikes and beer, are the hundreds of vans, carts, caravans and other vehicles that sell street food from every corner of the globe. Not only that, many food carts offer fusion cuisine combining the flavors of very different places. They often work, as in the case of Koi Fusion, which combines Mexican and Korean and is open till late. But I was spoiled for choice as I saw food carts representing Middle East, Hawaii and every single Asian country. There is even someone who has managed to export English cuisine and possibly improve.
Visit the USA submarine to Hunt for Red October –It is the USS Blueback, where it was shot a film with Sean Connery and is also a real American submarine. It was on Navy duty for many years, before being sent into retirement. It was parked in the Willamette River, in front of OMSI, the Portland Museum of Science. The submarine still has the missiles (obviously unarmed) and you can visit on a guided tour.
My tour guide was a former sailor in service for many years on this medium. Today he is retired and volunteers as a guide. He was very nice and a walking encyclopedia on submarines, who told me many stories about everyday life onboard.
Eating a donut from Voodoo Doughnut - Some say it's no longer the best place in Portland to eat a donut, but it is still among the top, and definitely, serves the most beautiful donuts of all in the United States. They have the strangest, provocative and entertaining donuts from the voodoo doll to the one with the mustache, not to mention the phallic shapes.
And even in terms of taste, it is surprising. Voodoo Doughnuts is famous for having launched the bacon and maple syrup taste. I tasted it, and it was not bad as it seemed from the name. The one with cake base of pie, baked and not fried dough and chocolate icing with satanic pentagram was definitely more scrumptious.
For me, it was not just visiting Portland. I lived intensely in the three days I spent there. I tried to get the best of the city, and I was lucky because I met several people who helped me to make my experiences authentic. I felt almost at home there.