Last week we spent three days in Portland.  We had a great time, just slowing down and relaxing, or ‘chillaxing’ as Mike would say.  We had lazy days sitting and reading in cafe’s hiding from the rain, reflecting on the past year and discussing our hopes and plans for the coming year. We also intermittently wandered around the various districts popping into shops, galleries and the wonderful Portland Art Gallery to shelter from the interminable rain.  And spent our evenings visiting great restaurants, awesome bars and lovely wee art house cinemas.

Time to slow down and take stock, and space to make some big life decisions.  The break was exactly what we needed.

Portland is home of amazing coffee.  We were staying in the Ace Hotel (which is very cool btw and highly recommended) so we had the luxury of being able to start each day with a cup of Stumptown coffee.  It is hands down the best coffee I have ever tasted.  We bought some beans so we can continue our indulgence now that we are home.  It is by no means the only amazing coffee available in Portland, and here people really appreciate their coffee.  One day we spent an hour sitting at coffee bar and everyone that came in ordered real coffee, no monkeying about, no soy milk, no crazy sweet syrups, or 20 word orders, just espresso, americano, cappuccino.  The baristas really know their stuff and are all really keen to tell you all about their coffee, how it is made, where the beans come from, it’s really interesting.

The other Portland highlight was of course, Powell’s Book store.  Shortly after I entered the fiction room I heard a comment from someone behind me declaring “this is my favourite room in Portland”, and I have to say I’m inclined to agree.  At times the room feels like a library, everyone speaks in hushed tones, in reverie of their surroundings.  Many of the books are second hand and consequently they often have a worn and loved feel, which only serves to make this place even more perfect – books are here to be enjoyed, far away from the corporate, sterile world of many chain bookshops.  The vast selection of second hand fiction is probably one of the main reasons I allow myself to cross the threshold of the shop whenever we are lucky enough to be in the city.  I mean, an entire city block of books, I could go properly broke here.  As it is my (what appears to be annual trips) can keep me in books for most of the year.  I buy a pile of second hand books here (buck for a book section people, heaven) then once I have read them I trade them for credit at Tanglewood bookshop on Broadway in Vancouver and shop on the credit they provide!  For more on what I read last year you can have a look at my book list.

Our trip was not without it’s glitches, I managed to loose my purse on our first day, but luckily for me it was found by a lovely man named Colin who did some amazing social media related discovery work and managed to track me down and return it to me.  I am amazed, and so very very grateful, the world needs way more people like Colin.

Ah Portland, we will be back and not just when I run out of books.  But this time can it rain a bit less?  Pretty please.

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