Monday, May 16, 2011

Portland Visited

I'm terrible about updating the blog whilst on vacation, or not on vacation.  Regardless, here are some more things I noted while there.

Hipster cyclists.  There are less than I thought there would be.  In fact, it took almost 24 hours for one to appear, and not until I crossed the 405 heading east, right by the PNCA.  There were many in the Pearl district, but their numbers were dwarfed by Freds.  Portland is positively Fred-tastic.  Portland Cycle Chic does not exist beyond a few ladies working in Nob Hill, as far as I can tell.  So many Freds.

Crazy people / Trippin' balls.  I have never seen so many people talking to themselves or outright ranting whilst walking down the street. 

Not cellphone talkers with discreet earpieces - shambling, wild-haired, cat-lady nuts.  When we were heading to the airport on the LRT [!], I noted a guy in his early 20s having a hearty laugh with someone.  Looking to see who the rest of the conversation was with, I saw that it was a solo affair.  "Hmmm.  Maybe he thought of something funny?"  Yeah, no.  Buddy went from spasms of laughter to focusing into the middle distance to eyes lolling helter-skelter to an intensely pained expression and back for 45 minutes.  Zoinks!  Indeed, that lad was trippin' balls.

Brew pubs.  Oh my, I have never had so much delicious, locally-crafted beer in my life.  I sampled many in my short stint, and only one was bad [a truly horrific IPA that tasted like ground aspirin mixed with Seville orange peels and fizzy bile].  The fact that the beer was good was one thing.  It was also cheap.  The most expensive local draft beer I had was $4.50/pint, while the priciest import was $5.00/pint.  Coming home and coughing up $8 for a Guinness seems even more wrong now.  

Brew pub food.  Jebus!  Cheap!  Tasty!  Good!  Yummy!  I had two dishes at North 45 that stood out.  #1 was moules frites Provencal.  I used to hate mussels, but have been exposed to them enough in chowder, pastas, etc. that I have grown to like them.  For $15, I enjoyed the best mussels I have ever had, and a lot of them. 

The fries were great as well.  The flavour was just amazing, and I was absolutely stuffed afterwards.  Wow.  Two nights later, I went back and tried the sliders and wings.  Bar food, but done very nicely.  The three mini-burgers were served impaled on a spike, a presentation that was eye-pokingly dangerous.  Very tasty wee burgers, with a smattering of fries and a small dish of mayo on the side.  The Ninja Wings were the best I'd ever had.  Big, succulent, dashed with Asian flavour and accompanied by an intense but complementary dipping sauce - I was very impressed.  Each of these dishes was $10, and considered appetizers.  Gobsmacked.

Drivers.  Drivers respected the rights and personal space of cyclists, at least as far as I could tell.  They routinely yielded, weren't aggressive and behaved well.  So did the cyclists.  When it came to pedestrians, it was very different.  Every time I took a step off the sidewalk, I took my life in my hands.  In five days, drivers stopped to let me cross a mere 5 times.  My entire trip was spent walking around the city, and I crossed a lot of streets.  The safest thing to do was jaywalk or wait for a light to change.  Crosswalks were purely decorative.

In summary.  Good times.  Next time I go I will get some sort of bike to ride around, as it's safer than walking, and will allow me to go to more pubs in less time.  I will eat more mussels.  I will go for more runs in the park - not.  I will take a warmer jacket.  I will take more pictures.

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