Saturday, March 29, 2008

Passing Time in Portland

Portland reminds me of two places I've called home. It has the richness of history and culture of San Francisco and the affordability of Las Vegas, Plus, there are bums all over the place.

I spent the first few days looking for familiar places and I immediately found things I liked about the city.

Portland to me is a city of- and for- readers. From Powell's Books, the steps of Central Library, and the engraved bricked floor of Pioneer Courthouse Square just to name a few, you can find things to read in the most unexpected places.

I was amazed by how reliable the modes of transportation were, with dedicated lanes for the streetcars, trains and bikes. While most of downtown has free public transportation, you might just find yourself traveling by foot. Everything is within walking distance and there's something to see everywhere. Food carts line the streets with the aroma of the international dishes they serve inviting you to take a taste. Parks are located practically in every block. Each building is unique and seems to have its own character and history. Plus how could you not like a place where one day you come across a scary looking clown driving a van listening to loud rap music, the next day six angels riding the trains and then an Elvis impersonator belting out his most famous hits?

I've been trying to enjoy Portland's outdoors as much as possible but, of course, that's hard to do when it's usually raining here. But when the sun does decide to shine, I've gone on many different walks. I walked alongside the Willamette River and crossed the Steel Bridge. It was a nice scenic route. I read the quotes and poetry engraved in the stones of the Japanese Memorial and passed by Mill Ends Park- boasting to be the world's smallest- and Salmon Street Springs, a fountain where people can soak themselves during the summer.

Just outside my apartment complex is the Portland State University and the beginning stretch of what is known as the Park Blocks where every Saturday (except in winter) they hold a Farmers Market. While I like salad, I'm not really into buying fresh produce but when I decided to check it out, I enjoyed myself. There was music and free samples, which I loved. I tried some Earl Grey crème tea, hazelnut and peanut butter brittles, bread, jalapeno jam, cheese, salmon but my favorite was the carrot cake samples they gave out on opening day. And yes I went for seconds on that.

I've passed the time sitting on the benches of the park and campus with my notebook in hand, trying to soak up some inspiration from the beauty of nature around me. I've also sat on the brick steps of Pioneer Courthouse Square enjoying the sun, gazing up at the surrounding buildings admiring the architecture, watching the countless other people doing the same thing, and reading a book.

And right next door to where I live is an Italian restaurant. Whether or not that's a good thing is still left to be decided. On one hand, I love Italian food and I could eat there everyday. However, being unemployed and trying to eat healthy, I'm tempted every morning as I step out my building by the delicious smells of freshly baking focaccia bread. Paccini is a cozy little joint that caters mostly to the PSU crowd. With its affordable prices and huge, filling portions, this is one restaurant I would recommend to anyone. Needless to say, I give in more than I resist temptation.

No comments: