These are a few of my favourite things

Portland is a city every traveller must visit. It’s the kind of city that makes even the most compulsive nomad to linger and perhaps stay awhile. Within five days of being there, I couldn’t help but entertain the idea of moving there myself. Not that I would, but I fantasise. Aside from rich cultural heritage and jealousy-inducing nature, there’s so much about Portland to cherish.

Variety

The Red Light, a clothing store in Portland
The Red Light, a clothing store in Portland.

Portland is famous for its chill attitude. It’s like the new cool kid on the block that everyone wants to be friends with. When in Portland, you wear what you want, you look what you like, and you believe what you want to believe in. No matter how strange or how quirky your preferences and lifestyle are, Portlanders won’t judge. The cheeky folk they are, they smile and embrace the fusion that different people bring to their city.

Walkers first

I love walking. The biggest problem with a lot of places is the lack of respect and consideration for those who travel on foot. Where I live, for instance, cars and motorcycles are so frequent and so many that it’s often scary to step onto the street for fear of a speeding motorist knocking you down. In Portland, however, I saw designated sidewalks. Of course, the same is true of many other places in America, but Portland goes a step further. I had so many vehicles stop to let through me walk by. For the first time in my life I felt respected on the street. I flet like royalty.

Rights for bicyclists

Cup & Bar, a coffee shop in Portland
Cup & Bar, a coffee shop with a place to hang bicycles.

Portland loves bicycles as much as it America loves its coffee. Everywhere I went, there were special concessions for bicyclists. Buses and trains had separate stands for riders travelling with their bikes, while brochures and route maps encouraged people to bring along their bikes. I even saw bike stands in a local coffee shop. On the street, right next to the pedestrian walkway were large bicycle lanes. From the little of America I’d seen, I realised the bike lanes in Portland are wider than the ones in Pleasanton, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Inclusion

Tempeh sandwich and vegan pasta, Portland
Tempeh sandwich and vegan pasta, Portland

During my five days in Portland, I didn’t feel alien for one moment. Everything about the people made me feel welcome and comfortable. For someone so new to the first world, I adjusted and felt at home right away. And it wasn’t just me either. So many people from so many varying parts of the world lived in Portland united by the love for the city. It showed, too, in every street corner and in every shop I stepped into. From scrumptious meat to decadent vegan desserts, the city has something for every taste. People go out of their way to make each other feel comfortable and less self-conscious.

Water
An unfamiliar experience about the US was drinkable tap water. Although some of my American colleagues prefer bottled water, after some initial inertia, I knew the tap was fine. The taste, however, differed ever so little. Throughout my stay in California, it didn’t bother me at all. Then I went to Portland. When I took the first sip of tap water there, I was too surprised for words. Tap water in Portland was so tasty that it felt plain, refreshing, and clean. Unlike the tap water in California which tasted like purified water, Portland’s water tasted like natural water. I later learnt that Mt. Tabor reservoirs are the major water resources for the city. That’s also why Portland boats the best of beer and coffee breweries.

Local love

It’s impossible not to notice how proud Portlanders are of their local culture. Everywhere I went there was a local-made product. From arts and crafts, to clothing, produce, beer, and coffee, “Made in Portland” is a phrase you can’t miss.

All that said,

When there’s so much goodness in one place, there’s bound to be some problems too. Portland’s biggest crisis is housing. From what I heard from a local tour guide, a lot of Californians have moved to Portland in the past few years bringing with them inflating house prices and increasing homelessness. Although it wasn’t visible, the city folk do harbour a certain distaste toward Californian migrants. Regardless, Portland remains as welcoming and as attractive as ever. It’s a place I would return just for the sake of it.

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