The second leg of our West Coast journey led us through Oregon. Now, I had never really thought about going to Oregon before we planned this trip, but once we decided to go it seemed everyone I knew had been to Oregon and raved about how beautiful it was, how great the food was and more.
We split our time between Eugene and Portland. Both are beautiful areas but vastly different. Eugene is basically a small college town and Portland is larger, and much more of a city.
We spent a day and a half in Eugene with friends of ours. We wandered through the downtown farmers market, whichhosted a variety of locally-grown produce, a few food carts and street performers. After that we drove an hour out to some hot springs. As we meandered through more redwood forests and through the state parks, we both were struck by how green everything is, but the lush greenery is markedly different than Northern California. I can’t put my finger on it, but I think it was less dramatic (though still striking.)
The hot springs we visited were definitely hot! The smell of sulfur wafted about as we relaxed in the different pools. The springs we visited were “clothing optional” and by clothing optional, they meant we were the only ones who opted to wear clothing! Our friends’ two kids were definitely perplexed as to why the other people didn’t have clothes on – and funnily enough, no one else wanted to sit in our pool, which worked out for us!
The next day we took off for Portland, which is only a few hours from Eugene. And like Eugene we really only spent about two days there. Portland, otherwise known as the Rose city, is beautiful. It’s extremely walkable and the public transit is actually usable (unlike Miami.) We spent two days walking the city, eating well and chilling out at various parks.
We made the requisite stop at VooDoo donuts, and I was set to get the Maple Bacon donut until I saw the devil donut – a chocolate donut with chocolate icing, red sprinkles, chocolate chips and a white pentagram. I had to do it. El Hombre ended up stopping by two more times for that same donut. Amazing.
We also stopped at the food carts and had the best pork sandwich ever. Fried pork with arugula and fennel pollen. A-maz-ing. We also had perfectly tart lemonade, soup and a killer grilled cheese. We walked off the calories by popping into interesting little boutiques and scoping out locally crafted clothes and housewares.
Another one of our pitstops was theChinese Gardens, where we took lots of pictures, read our fortunes and drank hot tea overlooking the waters, with a little old man plucking out traditional Chinese tunes. While small (it’s only one city block!) the gardens are a definite must see – especially if you are there on a weekday when it’s not too crowded.
Overall Portland is pretty awesome. it’s totally walkable, it’s not pretentious and the food is really, really good. It’s cool to walk along the river while catching glimpses of Mount Hood and Mount Helene in the distance.