A week ago I returned from a short trip back to Oregon to see my college best friend who lives in Portland and to see another best friend graduate.
It was the perfect length of time and I got to explore the Portland area and return to my alma mater. It has been a year since I was last in the area for my own graduation and it was great to go back.
I arrived early on Saturday and was able to explore a part of downtown Portland called Slabtown. Walking around and ducking into stores is one of my favorite things to do simply because it is easy and you can enjoy plenty of time to talk with whoever you’re with, in this case it was my college best friend Gabriella who was my tour guide and host for the trip. She knows the area well so we started with a drink at the Solo Club and then walked around until stopping for dinner at Grassa. If you’re ever in the area you have to try the mac and cheese at Grassa. It was so delicious and rich and perfect for two people to share with a side of garlic bread.
One of my favorite parts about this trip was all the food and drinks that we enjoyed. Gabriella is a foodie and even has her own blog all about food that you should definitely check out. That’s one thing that I really enjoy doing when exploring a new town is trying local restaurants and eateries. I am an avid Yelp user and a Local Guide for Google so when it comes to looking for restaurants I look at other peoples’ experiences and what they thought of the restaurant.
After walking around and enjoying the beautiful summer weather and food, we had a mellow evening of relaxing and just hanging out at Gabriella’s apartment where she has a beautiful garden patio. She grows her own herbs, some vegetables and of course flowers, succulents and general houseplants right on her third story balcony. It was a wonderful place to wind down the evening with some wine.
The next day we walked to the local Sunday Farmers Market to pick up some fresh produce and other goodies. I love farmers markets and this one was great. I wish I had one as big and diverse near by to get fresh and locally grown produce every week.
After returning our bounty at the apartment, we then went to the the International Rose Test Garden and explored the beautiful park. There are so many roses and it was nice to be outside and enjoying the warm weather that Colorado was lacking. If you’re in the area take the time to head up to the public park and take in all the beautiful flowers.
After the Rose Garden it was another wonderful restaurant for an early dinner, PDX Sliders. Fantastic burgers and fries and a wonderful outside patio. I’m a sucker for a good burger and throw in a patio and well seasoned fires and I’m one happy girl.
After the day out and about we chose to stay in and enjoy the pool and the remaining sunshine and then try out our own version of wine and paint night. It’s actually a lot of fun and there are a lot of easy tutorials you can follow online. We both got to paint our own scene while enjoying wine once again. (Wine was a theme for this trip in case you had not noticed)
Monday was graduation day at the University of Oregon so we ventured down, explored campus and reminisced about our last year and our own graduation in 2018. I got to see a very close friend receive her degree (with honors!) and celebrated a bit before heading back to Portland. It was quick, but great.
The night finished off with Chinese take-out (always delicious) and way too much wine with Gabriella and her boyfriend who had returned from his own quick trip. It was the perfect last night to a great vacation.
The following day we had brunch at yet another wonderful place, Trinket, and then we headed downtown to my all-time favorite bookstore Powells. It’s the world’s largest independent bookstore and you need a map to get around the downtown location that takes up an entire city block. I bought way to many books that amazingly all fit into my carry-on suitcase.
We spent two+ hours in there and came out happy readers. We then walked around and ducked into a couple stores before heading back to grab my suitcase and go to dinner before heading to the airport. Dinner of course was another great restaurant with a wonderful happy hour ($5 margherita pizzas).
It might have seemed short, but it was really the perfect length to catch-up, explore and reminisce about college. I have several friends that are still in the area so I will definitely be going back in the future to visit everyone.
I find that even taking short mini-vacations can be super beneficial for mental health and well-being. I was lucky to have a friend to stay with so in reality all I paid for was my plane ticket, food and some souvenirs (mostly books). I also was able to miss just two days of work so it didn’t hinder my workload and I didn’t come home to a million emails.
If it’s in the cards for you, I suggest taking a long weekend to head somewhere new, or somewhere old, and just take time to explore and relax and not worry about your day-to-day life. It does wonders for the soul.