Install compass

23Mar15

It’s the small subtle things, not just the big things that make up the fun of travelling and new places.

Before I left I made sure the I had a compass app on my phone…because it’s important to know how to find the points when you are taking directions in the US. The great TriMet planner that I’m using to get around Portland uses it all the time! Turn west at blah blah, go east a few blocks…huh?

The trip…

It’s such a #firstworld problem to whinge about travelling, so I’ll make it quick!

Up at 3 am Saturday to catch the 4 am coach  to Sydney. All fine, except it was pretty packed…I guess Murrays put on a 4 am bus because people want it. Anyway, a comfortable and uneventful trip up to Sydney. I got to to the airport just after 7 am and checked in very quickly. No hassles yet except the lovely Virgin Atlantic check in woman did raise my hopes by saying- oh yes to an aisle seat, and then “mmm looks like you have 3 seats to yourself”…imagine my surprise when I boarded and I was sharing my 3 seats with two other people. But it was fine – again a mainly comfortable and uneventful trip. I didn’t sleep a whole lot but I never do.

Movies watched…

  • Gone Girl – not as good as the book…but the book was only OK.
  • Nick Cave’s 20000 days on earth – I did like this. I especially liked the last scene with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds playing Jubilee Street with the montage of other performances…
  • Whiplash – jazz drumming and JK Simmons – what could go wrong? JK Simmons plays a bully (but often does) and pleased to see that Miles Teller who plays the young jazz drummer IS a drummer as well as an actor. Want Jack to watch this so I can talk to someone about it!
  • Also watched the first two episodes of ‘Orange is the new black’. Enough to want to keep on watching at some stage…No Portlandia which was a pity…if I was in any way organised I should have downloaded some eps as part of my preparation for this trip!

Long delay in LAX…was hoping for a 2-3 hour space between landing and flying onto Portland but the plane was delayed and ended up waiting at the airport for just over 5 hours! They were the hard hours…so near to the end of the trip, but so far. And I was so tired I was scared of falling asleep at the terminal in case I missed the plane completely!

But I did spend time talking with a Portlander Rachelle who is currently living in Sydney. She gave me loads of great tips and places to eat…yep, go to Voodoo Donuts, but the better tastier donuts are at Blue Star Donuts…great combinations like basil (Rachelle said “baazell”) and blueberry…

Plane to Portland and successfully negotiated the Max light rail to my hotel. Hurrah. Trip complete and #kateinportlandia truly begins!

Sunday

Woke up after an amazing sleep. I had been awake for over 35 hours and was worried i would be too tired to sleep. Overtired…like a baby…hard to settle. Why no…I slept like a log (where does that expression come from?) – sleeping from 9pm to 9am with only a couple of the briefest periods of wakefulness. A slow smoozy slothy start to the day, I didn’t leave my room till midday and caught the Max light rail across the river into town and the markets.

Portland Saturday Markets – they may be called Portland Saturday Markets but they are also held on Sundays. Some nice local crafts, a guitarist was playing. A few food carts were here – I got a chicken tamale from a Mexican cart which was delicious – not too much and just a perfect late late breakfast.

Voodoo Donuts – I had to queue here with a whole bunch of other people, but queues can be fun and this one was a fun queue. Everyone was happy and talkative so the time passed quickly. I got some t-shirts and a loop donut and a voodoo doll donut. I have now eaten both…about 6 hours after I bought them, squashed but fresh and quite delicious in a sweet, sweet puffy donuty goodness way. The loop donut was sickly sweet – think fresh donut with a sweet, sweet white frosting and fruit loops on top. I don’t even eat fruit loops but I did this for Carl…xx bravely!

I wandered around enjoying the occasional light rain and grey skies. Like visiting Vancouver in the autumn I am fully expecting rain, showers, grey skies and cool days and I don’t mind it at all. Nice weather for introspection and cool reflections. I did read (and was also told by Rachelle) that Portlanders don’t use umbrellas. You just put your hood up and go. And that’s what I did! There were some umbrellas out, but I have to say that most were used by out-of-towners 🙂 and the showers were light. But I am glad I packed my raincoat.

*Another way to look local in a city is to have a dog. I did think when travelling last year that there could be money in having a dog hiring business. Could solve a few problems in one. Travelers do a lot of walking > walking a dog makes you look like a local > grateful dogs get walked > travelers bluff it like a local!

I went to the Lan Su Chinese Gardens which were also lovely. Spring is springing in Portland. Still lots of bare trees but there are buds about. The gardens are considered to be the most authentic Suzhou-style Chinese gardens outside China. Portland and Suzhou are sister cities and the gardens were only completed in 2000, although they feel older. Magnolias, azaleas, daphne, lilies, Chinese fringe flower and Chinese paper bush (the last two are new to me but I took photos) all in flower…and some lovely trees, courtyards and pavilions.

More wondering and wandering led me to Floyds Cafe (Old Town) and a great latte, granola/yoghurt and wifi. Even more wandering and I got to Powell’s City of Books. I wasn’t especially going to go into a bookshop. I mean I love a good bookshop, but they are everywhere and there is so much to see in Portland. But Powell’s is great. It works! New and used books together. Lots of staff reviews and recommendations, great prices, great staff, and floors and floors of books. Wowsa.

So…I am back in the hotel, feeling slightly ill after the two donuts, watching crap TV….and thinking that I need to get ready for tomorrow and a visit to Portland State University Library.

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