Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Our Spring Break Vacation to Portland

Last year, we spent Spring Break in Tofino, BC....and keeping with our tradition of exploring the Pacific Northwest, we headed to a new destination: Portland! We have never been to Portland before but had always wanted to go, and having Maya off school for not one, but two weeks was the perfect opportunity! The vacation came at a perfect time because I was feeling bored from my routine and craved a little getaway. We actually had no plans to travel this year, but I'm so glad we planned this little trip! My dad's friend actually suggested that we should go on a vacation - just us 3 - before my in-laws land and we become a house of 5!

From Vancouver, Portland is about a 6 hour drive South, mostly passing through the state of Washington. We stayed in this beautiful historic hotel downtown called The Benson, which was very affordable at only $180/night. It felt like we were staying in the Four Seasons with the wonderful service and intricate architecture! It was so relaxing to have room service breakfast for a week - what a treat! A week off from cooking is exactly what I needed!

We also got to do a lot of sightseeing, like visiting the Oregon Zoo and Children's Museum, which were conveniently located on the same lot. Another day, we visited the Oregon Museum of Science and History which had a lot of fun stations for children to play with.

Another day, we ventured out to Multnomah Falls which is a 30 minute drive east of Portland. The falls were absolutely breathtaking - even better than the ones we saw in Hawaii! The viewpoints to see the falls were easily accessible so that all ages can enjoy it. Feeling the mist from the waterfalls on our faces was so refreshing!

We also got to explore quite a bit downtown, around where we were staying. It was nice to wander around because I found the city blocks in Portland to be very short, so you can easily walk from one side of downtown to another. There were a lot of interesting shops and cafes, and a lot of beautiful outdoor murals.

The best part of my trip was exploring Powell's Books, which they call the "city of books". It was my idea of paradise, and I'd even drive 6 hours just to visit this place again. It was that good. They had extensive collections of everything - for example a full aisle of travel writing books by expats which I combed over. They had several copies of the same book, both new and used; and many hard-to-find books as well. The children's section was also fantastic, with a cute little sitting area where kids can explore books. I found several hard-to-find copies of storybooks that my grandmother used to read for me from the Little Golden Books series. I got 10 books for myself for under $100 - all used and in great condition!

We also tried out a lot of nice restaurants like Bollywood Theater, Pazzo's, and Produce Row Cafe. Husband-ji was very impressed by Bollywood Theater's sambhar - and trust me, he is incredibly hard to please! We also tried out a few food trucks like Bombay Chat House, which had a 6 course meal for only $6! One lady in line for the food with us said she ate there every single day!

In general, I found Portland to be very affordable - partly because there is NO TAX! We didn't pay more than $50 for a single food bill - and there were 3 of us eating! We were surprised at how affordable it was.

I would say that the only downside to our trip was seeing Portland's huge homeless population. I saw more homeless people and shanty towns there than I have ever seen in the U.S. and that includes NYC. It was really bad, and there were panhandlers on nearly every corner who were so aggressive. We visited several different areas and it was more of the same - granted, we did not venture into Suburbia. Any place which people could find shelter from the rain, there was a homeless person wrapped up.

Also, husband-ji (a.k.a. the desi fashion police) said that you couldn't even tell who was homeless and who was not because the style in Portland is tres grunge and casual. Portland's style kind of felt like Seattle's University district was 10 years ago; or how hippie San Francisco used to be before it got so expensive. Vancouver is not much better because it's a land of yoga pants, but our humongous Asian population is always dressed to the nines in Chanel or LV, which husband-ji surely notices. However, a lot of people in Portland did have really interesting haircuts and unique beard styles.

Another downside, but not so bad, is that I couldn't get a doughnut to save my life! Not that I need doughnuts, but everyone had recommended to me to try famous doughnut shops like Voodoo Doughnuts or Blue Star Donuts. Voodoo Doughnuts was open 24 hours a day and it had a line of 50 people outside their door at all times of the day. The same with Blue Star Donuts. And I wasn't that desperate - because it's just a doughnut - to line up behind 50 people and wait god knows how long!

On the way back from Portland, we stopped in to Seattle for the Easter holiday long weekend, to see husband-ji's cousin-brother. We took a picture with the Easter Bunny at the Bellevue Square Mall; and did a little Easter egg hunt around his apartment on Easter morning. It was fun to stay all together in his place, and Maya was just thrilled to see her favorite uncle!

Overall, we had a wonderful trip and I'd love to do it again with my in-laws one day! Next time, I'd love to venture farther and explore the beautiful Oregon coast.



  1. Alex,

    What a great trip you all had, very pretty pictures of the scenery. The waterfall is just beautiful. Glad you all had an opportunity to go and do sightseeing. Great picture of you Maya on the merry go round! Nice historical hotel and that chandelier is beautiful. Great picture of Husband-ji and cousin and Maya. It looks that Maya had a good time at the museum and zoo, she is so cute, really grown a lot! Thanks for sharing these great family pictures these are wonderful. Happy Spring to all of you.


  2. And it was wonderful to meet you at Madras Dosa Corner. Can't believe I was so star struck..... Sorry if I bothered you.

    1. Not at all! I was so happy to meet you :) I was feeling so shy, I have never been recognized before! I hope we meet again xo

  3. Looks like you got to explore a lot around the city. My husband and I lived in the area for 2.5 years and we never went to vodoo doughnuts. We tasted them once when some friends brought us some but they were really not that good. I think it's just the uniqueness of the store that attracts tourists. Blue Star however, does make really good doughnuts and they have a couple locations so we never saw a line to the one we went to.


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