Friday, April 12, 2013

Portland: the perfect place for a roadtrip

By Dania Tolentino, Guest Columnist

For those of you who want a change of scene and have a free weekend, we in Tacoma have the luxury of living two hours away from beautiful Portland.
“There’s so much to see or try. [It’s] very artsy and friendly,” Kelsey Rodriguez said. A cosmetology student, Rodriguez travels daily through downtown Portland to get to Aveda Institute of Portland.

Sophomore Andrea Battello said her trip to Portland last summer was awesome. “There are so many things to do you have to go back again and again to do it all.”
Geographically speaking, finding Oregon is easy: just head south. Whether you’re carpooling with a couple of friends or taking the train, it is well worth the time to visit a city where smiling people on bikes are just trying to keep “Portland Weird.”
Whether you arrive with a backpack filled with rain boots, binoculars and maybe a walking stick, or fancy heels and shades, you’ll definitely find plenty of appropriate destinations on muddy trails or the streets of Portland.   
As college students on a budget — good thing there’s no sales tax in Portland — take advantage of various cheap transportation, such as the Tri-Met. The Tri-Met is the city’s public transportation system, providing trains, trams and rail cars for easy access around town.
According to a new analysis from the Federal Transit Administration and American Public Transportation Association, Portland is “the nation’s best city for public transportation.” With $5 you can get an all-day pass that allows you to travel all around Portland’s rails and roads.
Most of downtown is accessible for free via the MAX light-rail trolleys and streetcars. The MAX drops passengers off at destinations like Powell’s Books, where new and used books take up nine rooms, color-coded by genre. Powell’s Books is well known for inhabiting an entire city block. Maps and signs all around the store ensure that no one gets lost while browsing.
If you taste the difference between Starbucks, Seattle’s Best and Dutch Bros, you know you’re in Portland.
On an early morning, a cup of espresso from Stumptown Coffee Roasters can offer you enough energy to roam around the Portland Saturday Market. This offers a taste of the city’s local arts and crafts market that runs along the Waterfront Park.
Less than five blocks away, let the smell of bacon guide you to Voodoo Doughnuts, a 24-hour doughnut shop that is known worldwide for its unique pastries like the bacon-maple bar and other odd toppings such as Froot Loops, Cap’n Crunch and lavender.
When the sun is shining down on Portland, there’s no better place to be than the Japanese Gardens located in Arlington Heights. This garden has been proclaimed to be the most authentic of its kind outside of Japan.
However, if you would rather window-shop or happen to have $20 in your pocket, you might just love Hawthorne Street. There are thrift stores that will make you wish you had more money.
Further down the street on SE 12 and Hawthorne Boulevard are some of Portland’s well-known food carts, or Cartopia. There you’ll find Potato Champion, which is the only cart in town dedicated to serving Belgian style frites —  potatoes that are peeled, cut, washed and then lightened with a first fry before frying them again. Certainly hits the spot.
On a breezy Portland night, if you and your friends are looking to discover some great music that’s either cheap or even free, then make sure to visit and see what’s playing near you. Simply search by date, neighborhood, price and genre for an enlightening music experience.
Portland is a place where young people go to retire, according to “Portlandia,” a satirical show produced and starring Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen. The show is dedicated to portraying how life actually is in Portland, but make sure to experience this for yourself by visiting.