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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

LAX to PDX

My brief absence the past few days was due to a leisurely weekend trip up to Portland, Oregon. Having been to every other major West Coast city, I figured it was time to see Portland (a.k.a. PDX) for the first time and take advantage of the fact that there is no sales tax. Somehow, the lack of sales tax makes me feel less guilty about buying high end items since my rationale is that the more I'm spending, the more I'm saving on the sales tax.

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Wearing: sunglasses - H&M, RUN DMC tank, floral scarf, and leopard cardigan - Forever 21, jeans - Cheap Monday, shoes - Nike

My first night in town included a short walk up 3rd Ave for a nighttime tour of the creepy and supposedly haunted underground Shanghai Tunnels, where thousands of men where kidnapped, jailed, drugged, and then forced to work aboard ships between 1850 and 1941. Pictured below is a photo I snapped of an opium den. According to the tour guide, there are three bunks on the left which could be rented. The lowest bunk had the highest rate, because if you were to fall out of it in an opium-induced state, you'd be closer to the ground.

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The following day included a city tour, where I admired the large closets, modern bathrooms, and stunning views of the Pittock Mansion.

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Then it was time to smell the roses, literally, at the International Rose Test Garden, which is 5 acres of gorgeous, fragrant roses set high on a hill above the city. This garden is a must-see for anyone who visits Portland and is looking to relax, enjoy the flowers, and admire the views.

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After browsing the numerous affordable boutiques on NW 23rd Ave. (aka NW trendy third), Voodoo Donuts provided some late-afternoon energy in the form of vegan, glazed, and vanilla peanut flavored donuts. After a small sampling of each flavor, I must admit they're a bit overrated...or perhaps I'm not much of a donut fan, especially when temperatures are climbing towards 100 degrees outside.

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Despite the uncomfortable heat, I walked around the downtown area, and when it became stifling, I made use of the air conditioned buses and streetcars. My overall impressions of the city are that it's got an impressive and user-friendly network of public transportation, a large array of brewpubs, plenty of places to buy coffee, and lots of outdoor space that beckons bike riders, joggers, and sun worshippers. While the lack of sales tax certainly encouraged me to buy, I didn't find the city to be particularly trend-forward, as my people-watching in the downtown area revealed that many Portland women seemed to prefer their basic jersey dresses, short shorts, and casual flip flops in the summer heat.