I have great expectations for Portland. I’ve heard it's something of a mecca for those seeking an inviting, livable city with health conscious, young, and just overall cool inhabitants. I cross over into the city around 8 AM on a Saturday: probably not the best time to see all that hip-ness in action. I drive around for awhile - through the pearl district and chinatown, past the college and up into the residential hills around the city. Something about Portland is very European. Maybe it’s the winding roads up the hills bordered by masonry walls that have moss growing in the mortar. Maybe it’s the ample parks and green space, bronze statues and fountains.
I decide to do the touristy things. I stop at the rose garden and walk around Washington Park. And I stop at Powell’s books. Then I tour the Pittock Mansion: a grand home built in 1914 on the towering hills overlooking the city. The house was transformed into a museum in 1962 when it was in danger of being purchased by a developer who intended to tear it down. At that time Mr. Pittock’s grandson held an estate sale and all the furniture and furnishings sold. They have attempted to relocate the items with some success, but most of the furnishings are from the correct time period but not in the style of furniture the Pittock’s owned. This leads to some interesting juxtapositions: like a sea captain’s huge sleigh bed in the bedroom of Mrs. Pittock. The Mansion also has the groundskeeper’s house available to tour. It is still a lovely little home, despite being quite smaller than the mansion above it, and it’s interesting to compare the two. The view from the Mansion is amazing and I see many locals come up here just to picnic on the lawn and see the city skyline.
I also walk down 23rd Avenue, a nice shaded street with eclectic shopping and restaurants. I eat at a place called Sushiville, which is an experience because I’ve never been to one of those places where they put small plates of sushi on a conveyor belt that winds around the sushi bar in front of you and you take whatever looks good. After a couple plates I contemplate a couple steamed dumplings as they pass by, but decide to consider my options further. Unfortunately the dumplings never come around again and I leave after too long a time spent searching expectantly for dumplings. I continue down the street window-shopping until I see a place called Allota Gelato and decide to fill the dumplings sized hole in my stomach with peanut butter chocolate chip gelato. It’s perfect.
I leave the city as the sun sets with a feeling of contentment. I liked my visit, for sure. But if at all possible, I’d like to live in a much smaller place. Cities tend to make me feel claustrophobic and like I have to spend money to have any fun. I suppose I could live in Portland - it wouldn’t be half bad - but I’m actually a bit relieved that I didn’t quite fall in love with it the way I thought I would. It’s wonderful to visit though.