Monday, May 9, 2011

A Weekend in Portland


Chris is attending the CHI conference in Vancouver, BC this week. Our friend Todd was giving him a ride up on Friday, and I tagged along as far as Portland. We arrived at lunchtime and stopped at my tradition base of operation in Portland, The Backspace Cafe.

From there, I took the streetcar to Heron Haus B&B in the alphabet district where I was staying. After I checked in, I explored the neighborhood. I had tickets to the Portland Timbers game that night, so I scouted the ballpark.

I was surprised to see the folks with general admission tickets (like the ones I had) were already lining up to get good seat 3 hours before game time. I wasn't hardcore enough to wait three hours in the rain, so I accepted the fact that we'd have bad seats and found a nearby bourbon bar I had read about, The Pope House, and had a Manhattan while I waited for game time.

My friend Eric drove up from Corvallis to see the game with me. We met up at the Pope House and walked to the game just as it was starting. We had to stand up in the back row with a post partially blocking our view, but that didn't matter, it was still a blast.

The north end of the stadium is general admission seating and is referred to as the Timbers Army. If you loop the above 10 second video 540 times, you'll get an idea of what it's like. These folks never sit down, and never stop chanting for the entire game. I've never seen this happen at a Rapids game.

After the game, Eric and I got food and beer at 21st street Bar and Grill.


I spent Saturday morning at my other favorite coffee shop in Portland, Anna Bananas. Then I went to an independent movie theater in the neighborhood, Cinema 21, to see the matinee showing of the new Werner Herzog documentary. After lunch at Laughing Planet and a haircut, I went back to the B&B to get ready for an evening out.

I had wanted to check out a jazz club while I was here, and the jazz calendar said that a Django Reinhardt tribute band (the Djangophiles) was playing at the Livingroom Theater - I had always wanted to check out the theater anyway. I arranged to meet up with some old friends, Jamie and Rachael, there.

I initially figured that I'd catch a movie at the Livingroom Theater, but after all the food, cocktails, jazz, and conversation, we had talked past the starting time of any movie we wanted to see. So we went to Ground Control instead. It's an old school video game arcade/nightclub. Rachael and I threw away a couple of dollars worth of quarters playing poorly (like back in high school), then watched Jamie, who is very competitive and excels at everything she endeavors, get the high score on Galaga.


After coffee at Anna Bananas, I headed downtown. I had initially planned on hiking Forest Park, but it was too rainy, so I decided to go to the Portland Saturday Market (special Sunday edition). I bought an umbrella (I've lived in the northwest for almost 4 years now - this is my first umbrella). After Pad See-Ew at the Thai Peacock, I went back to The Livingroom Theater - this time to actually see a movie, Bill Cunningham New York. The person who sold me the ticket and the beer was our server from the previous night, and she remembered me (Jamie and Rachael - you'd never guess what her favorite movie was!)

That night I went to The Blue Monk, a jazz club in Jamie and Rachael's neighborhood that they had told me about. It was probably my favorite discovery of the weekend. The place was just about my class of people - not too snobby, but not divey. The basement bar, where the live music was had a great vibe. I'll definitely be back to this place.


Today's a travel day. I checked out of the Heron Haus, and I've been spending the last couple hours at Backspace Cafe writing this post (I'll probably finish this on the train). I'm heading over to Union station next. I'll be on the train for 10 hours, arriving in Vancouver at midnight. Go Canucks!