It Felt Like Saturday

by syaffolee

Portland, OR. Friday, March 18, 2011.

I met my sister in the morning at the Portland International Airport and we took the MAX Light-Rail to a nearby hotel and dropped our things off before heading into downtown proper.  We didn’t have much of a plan except for something unusual I found earlier browsing on the internet.  Anyways.  More about that later.

We got off around Pioneer Square and wandered a bit trying to find a place to eat.  My sister had heard about Portland’s famous food carts, but we didn’t see many until in the evening when everything had closed.  Eventually, we stumbled onto a small, quaint Thai place called Aroy Thai Cuisine on 4th Avenue.  It’s very good and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for an inexpensive lunch.

Afterwards, we meandered our way to Chinatown and took the tour through the Lan Su Chinese Gardens–guided by an older lady with a Spinal Tap totebag.  Although she was just a volunteer, she was extremely knowledgeable about the place and from her talk, I gathered that she had actually visited gardens in China.  The only weird thing about Chinatown was–where were all the Chinese people?  My sister and I seemed like the only Asian people wandering around town.

I tried to find the 24-hour Church of Elvis, but all we discovered was this display.  According to a note on the right hand panel, it was closed for renovations.

Powell’s.  A bibliophile’s paradise.  Man, it’s huge.  A book lover could get lost in that place and not give a damn.  Of course I did not come away from it empty handed.  Up on one of the top floors, in the Pearl Room, there was a small exhibit on contemporary Bulgarian print making.  A silkscreen work by Ana Antonova called “Seeds in a Safe Place” was particularly lovely.

Then we ended up on the block on 5th Avenue, between Couch and Davis, which my sister termed “the hipster block.”  Mostly because there seemed to be a certain type lingering around an internet cafe and a tavern restaurant.  We were hungry at that point, though, so we ended up getting burgers at Theo’s.  I got the garden burger which was really good (and my foodie sister approved of it as well).

As night fell, we kept wandering around town, passing closed stores, some place with female impersonators, random clubs, and Chinese restaurants we were sure we didn’t see even though we scoured Chinatown earlier in the day.  It was then that we peeked in and saw where all the Chinese people in Portland went–they were at the restaurants.

Eventually, we headed to Hobo’s on 3rd where we met the tour group for the Portland underground.  I’m not sure how much I should say about this except that they allowed photos, the tour guide knew a lot of interesting stories about Portland’s history and we wandered about with flashlights so the pictures didn’t turn out so well anyway.

The guide said there were ghosts down there.  I didn’t see any (however, I’m a skeptic).  But even if there were, you wouldn’t have heard them because the people above were doing loud, bad Celine Dion karaoke.