Monday, October 7, 2013

2013 West Coast Trip: Portland

Aw, did we really have to leave Seattle? We started the "road trip" portion of our vacation on Wednesday, after we hit up Seattle's Top Pot Doughnuts for breakfast and coffee. I got an iced coffee, husband got a regular coffee, along with a piece of zucchini harvest bread (for me) and a doughnut for him.  For being as well-known as this place is in the area, we weren't impressed. But - onward! 

We checked out of our hotel in Bellevue and hit the I-5 toward Portland. The drive even through the middle of Washington was just beautiful. All the evergreen trees and mountains mixed with farmland and rivers was great scenery to accompany our 3 hour drive. 

We were actually staying about 20 minutes north of Portland in Vancouver, Washington. We once again bid on Priceline and got a great little hotel called The Heathman Lodge. It was kind of a welcome change from the nickel-and-dime atmosphere of the fancier Hyatt Hotel in Bellevue. As the name suggests, it was very lodge-themed, but had recently been renovated so a lot of the amenities were new. We liked it! 

We grabbed lunch at a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in Vancouver, and then checked into the hotel. It was a rare 95 degrees in the Portland area that day, so we decided to hang out in Vancouver for the afternoon and head into Portland for an early dinner.

We made the trek into Portland around 5pm. It was fun to drive over the Columbia River and see the city from a distance. I had high hopes for Portland, and we probably would have liked it a lot more if we'd had more time to explore. But since we were headed to the Oregon Coast the following day, we really only had Wednesday night to see the city. 

Upon entering Portland, we drove around the (confusing) downtown area and got a little lost. Our navigation went kaput on us as we were trying to find the restaurant we had picked for dinner, and all the one way streets and mixed traffic messages were a little stressful. 

We also discovered that Portland in the summer has a large population of street dwellers. Not exactly homeless, but definitely not living in their homes, just living on the streets and begging while the weather is warm. When it gets cold, they move on. But the 95 degree day we were there, they were out in full force. It felt a little bit unsafe to have huge groups of vagrants with their shopping carts full of stuff crowded onto major street corners, so we didn't stay in Portland past dark. 

But, we did find a PRECIOUS restaurant called Mother's that was probably my favorite restaurant of our whole trip. They served amazing comfort food like meatloaf and chicken and dumplings and mac and cheese - plus everyone gets a free cookie when they bring the check! I loved the adorable crystal chandeliers hanging in the dining room! 






After Mother's, we drove around downtown Portland for awhile and then decided we were done and headed back into Vancouver for the night. We had heard that Vancouver had a cute little downtown area of its own so we decided to check it out. 

A blurry picture of crossing back over the Willamette River. 
In downtown Vancouver, we found an absolutely awesome coffee shop called Brewed. The barista at Brewed was by far our favorite of the whole trip. He was SO passionate about coffee and loves making pour-overs. They offered at least 4 different types of pour-overs in various brewers (Chemex, Hario, Aeropress, and Clever), in addition to espresso drinks. We overheard the barista talking about his recent  batch of cold-press coffee, and he gave me a sample because he was so thrilled with how it had turned out! I got a pour-over using the Clever since I'd never had one using that kind before, and hubs got the cold brew because it was just so stinking good. We stuck around and talked to the baristas and the owner of the store about their coffees and their roaster and they were more than happy to talk about coffee with us! It was an obvious passion and it was super fun to hang out with people who love it just as much as we do.

Plus the coffee was spectacular, so that was a major win.

We LOVED this place and have talked ever since we got back about how much we wish there was a place like Brewed where we live. We would be there all the time! I was so inspired by the cold-press coffee that I even used their method to make my own batch when I got home (pretty much identical to Pioneer Woman's recipe). It obviously wasn't as good (I was using old gross beans that we had ordered a long time ago and didn't like). But it was still really good and it gives me fond memories of our favorite coffee place in Washington.

Stay tuned for day 4!