Portland, Oregon. The Rose City. Home to wonderful music, divine beer, and lots of facial hair.
In some ways Portland is a lot like Seattle. They both share a distinctive Northwest culture (perceived or real?) of bookish organic farmers sitting in a cafe, enjoying soy lattes and vegan muffins while agreeing with everything on the Huffington Post.
In other ways, however, Portland is very different from Seattle. It's smaller for one thing. It's not as geographically strange, so it's easier to get around. There are more strip clubs. It's actually soggier if you can believe that. And it's far more lumberjack-y than Seattle. Everyone there dresses like a lumberjack. And has a beard. Even the women. Kidding, mostly.
Anastasia and I love Portland. We've made five trips down there so far--a few times with friends and once we took her parents to McMenamins Edgefield Manor (Disneyland for adults). It's a great little city to get away to every now and then. And now that we're pretty familiar with the place, it's just as fun to go and explore new areas of town as it is to revisit those restaurants, bars, and shops that we've enjoyed on prior visits.
So when we were thinking of things to do for New Year's Eve this year, Portland fit the bill nicely. After working a half-day Thursday, Stasia and I bused down to King Street Station and hopped on a Portland-bound train. Note: It doesn't get much better than sitting back on a train, sipping red wine, watching the trees, water, ships, and farm houses pass by.
We didn't really have a plan for New Year's Eve. We had dinner reservations, but beyond that, we'd be celebrating the new year wherever we happened to be when the clock struck.
Walking around the east end of the Pearl District, we found a lot of bars and clubs, but many of them had people lined up at doors through which heavy bass music pounded mercilessly. We looked at each other knowingly, took a sip of our Metamucil and continued walking until we happened upon a corner bar that looked quite welcoming with its warm atmosphere and copious Christmas decorations.
Turns out, it was a gay bar. Stasia called it before I did, but by the time we'd found a booth and ordered our first drinks, it was pretty obvious. Thing is, it was far more laid back than most gay bars. Imagine if CHEERS was a gay bar. That's how this place was.
We thought we'd have one drink and then maybe see what else was down the street. Then we decided to have a second drink. By then the bartender was my best friend because his drinks were strong and not overpriced. About half an hour to midnight we relocated to a table closer to the bar and, therefore, closer to the celebration.
Another drink (or two?) and we joined the rest of the crowd with the countdown, followed by countless horns, balloon-popping, and other noise-makers. We had a blast and were quite happy with how we rang in 2010.
Here are some other things that happened:
We went to a Wisconsin-themed bar called Saraveza. Great beer selection.
Stasia had a custom cone of yarn spun together at Yarnia.
We found a place that apparently sells FRESH HAIR, which is marvelous. BECAUSE I'VE BEEN LOOKING.
A crazy magic door appeared in a cafe men's room. I DARED NOT ENTER.
A drunk woman stopped and peed in the middle of the sidewalk as we passed by.
Thanks, Rose City. See you next time.