Last week I wrote up a summary of the FitBloggin conference itself and now I'm back to highlight some of the great parts of the city of Portland.
We stayed at the poshest hotel I've ever been to appropriately named The Nines. I can't think of a single thing I'd say could be improved upon in regard to my experience staying there. They actually did a turn down service at night after housekeeping cleaned the room in the morning where they would come in and set slippers out by the bed, little chocolate brownies on the pillows and turn on relaxing music so when you walked in that was the first thing you heard.
The staff was spectacular. I had a rough idea of things I wanted to try to see while I was in Portland and every morning I'd go downstairs and just ask one of the employees working on the ground floor for directions. They were always helpful, cheerful and gave me some great recommendations on things to see!
The first morning I was there I went out for a long run with Katrina. Running is my favorite way to see a new city. We headed from the hotel to the water for a bit, then back into the downtown area to do 8 miles all together.
We had to stop a few times to take photos! With a break in the conference mid-morning I wandered around downtown a bit and eventually made my way to the famous Powells Books. I busted out laughing when I saw this warning sign given my history with bike accidents (and my last one happening because of train tracks!)
Inside Powells Books is a bit overwhelming. The store is the size of a city block so you could easily spend half a day in there. I have such an epic book collection at home I try not to buy any more unless they are super cheap or one of a kind. I was a bit disappointed in the selection of used books at Powells. They didn't have as much as I anticipated and their used book prices were pretty high!
Later that day Katrina and I headed out again in search of dinner. As we walked around searching for a place to eat we saw a collection of food carts. Portlands food carts are one of the big tourist attractions there but we didn't realize they closed at 5 p.m. on Fridays! As we stood there looking through our phones to find a place to eat a police office came up and asked us if we needed help with anything. We asked for his favorite vegetarian friendly restaurant within walking distance and he directed us to Veggie Grill.
Veggie Grill is a chain found on the West coast and I would kill to have one here! I got the All Hail Kale salad and it was SO good! I need to try to recreate it at home: marinated kale and red cabbage, corn salsa, agave-roasted walnuts, ginger-papaya vinaigrette and tempeh. I also ordered a side of their cauliflower mashed potatoes. Can you believe I've never made those at home before?
Saturday morning I worked out at the hotel then left as early as possible to have time to visit two markets before my presentation at the conference that afternoon. First up was the Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University.
I remember sitting down at one point after walking around for a bit and sending out a tweet that said something to the effect of "I'm sitting at a Farmers Market in Portland and I"m so happy I could cry." It was just all so perfect. In Florida we don't have a great growing season so local produce is hard to come by (and very expensive when you do find it.) There were dozens of organic, family owned farms with booths at the market and if I lived in PDX I'd be there weekly doing the bulk of my grocery shopping!
The only thing I purchased since I knew it would survive the flight home was some lavender infused Marionberry jam. When I told my Mom about it she said "like the mayor that was smoking crack?"
No Mom, I did not buy jelly that had anything to do with that Marion Berry. This Marionberry was developed at Oregon State University and is a cross between two types of blackberries. When the guy asked if I wanted to sample the jam's I asked what his most popular one was - he told me the Lavender Marionberry so I went with it. Great choice as it is freaking phenomenal.
After gorging on delicious food samples I walked to the Portland Saturday Market. This market is focused on arts and crafts and came highly recommended to me by everyone who lives in Portland.
I knew I would love it when one of the first booths I saw was for catnip filled kitty body pillows. Salem definitely got one. I had to bring him back something! He went balistic over it for about 2 days and now they novelty has worn off. Totally worth the $8 I spent on it! I also picked up two hand painted ceramic mugs - one for me and one as a 'thank you' gift for Dad who was cat-sitting for me.
After walking around all morning I was starved and looking forward to meeting my co-presenters at Habibi for lunch. I looked around online before the trip to find vegetarian places within walking distance from the hotel. This one was very highly rated on urbanspoon so I was stoked Annabel and Shannyn agreed to eat there!
I ate all the food.
It was so nice to be able to sit outside and enjoy the weather while eating. The service was great, the prices very reasonable and if I lived there I'd be back weekly. It could become a problem.
Sunday morning I went for one more run around the water with Katrina and Anne. If you're looking for a route to take while staying downtown this is probably the best one. The loop around the bridge is about 3 miles and absolutely gorgeous scenery.
Finally, despite all the food I packed to bring with me to avoid eating overpriced crap at the airport I totally broke down on my flight out and bought this. I was absolutely craving fresh fruits and vegetables and spent $14 on this. So worth it.
It's taken me about a week to get back into my normal routine but I'm already itching for my next trip!
Where's your next destination?