Thursday, 11 August 2011

Keep Portland weird

The unofficial city slogan, seen on graffitti and posters throughout the area. 

We arrived in Portland, Oregon on Monday lunchtime and settled into our hostel in the Northwest district of the city.  Strolling around the neighbourhood made it very clear that Portland was my kind of city: beautiful Victorian houses on treelined streets filled with funky (but not pretentious) cafes and bars, bookstores and vintage clothing emporiums; the inhabitants all seeming to be in their 20s and 30s and wearing band t-shirts, intricate tattoos, sandals and beards (mostly just the men, but I'm sure one or two women also).  Portland isn't so much weird as simply awesome.  It's very bike-friendly (as Richard and I can attest to after a 14 mile ride this afternoon), left-wing and eco-conscious.  Book stores, vintage shops and clothing exchanges rule the highstreet (in fact, the only chainstore I've seen so far has been Macys).  In short, it's a kind of nirvana: a Hebden Bridge or Hay-On-Wye with 500,000 inhabitants.  When can I move here?

Yesterday I dumped Richard and went shopping on my own in the Hawthorne district, on the east bank of the river and a couple of miles from downtown.  Cool Cottons was my first  stop but I ended up leaving empty-handed, not because I didn't find anything I liked but because I liked everything.  There's just not enough room in my rucksack for endless yards of gorgeous fabric and as I couldn't narrow it down to just one, I moved on.  Presents of Mind further up Hawthorne Blvd was a treasure trove of interesting things: I love my new enamel bird necklace and this ace sticker and notebook.

Further down the street I really loved Murder By The Book, a store entirely devoted to crime & mystery novels.  My step-mum Andrea (who shares my taste for murder in fiction), would love it there.  Red Light Clothing Exchange relieved me of $10 for a great navy polka dot dress.  Naked City was stuffed with rockabilly dresses, studded belts, skull t-shirts and striped stockings; not exactly my style (although my rock chick friend Cara would adore it) but they also had this amazing 70s print dress hidden away on a rail.  $50 and it was mine.  Crappy photo I know, but this dress is so great that later that day a sales assistant in Macy's dragged it out of my bag, demanded to know where I'd bought it and disappeared with it to show a colleague.

I then headed back downtown and visited Beth Ditto's favourite vintage store, Fat Fancy Fashions.  As the name suggests, they specialise in plus size vintage clothing and it was quite a novelty to be too small for most of the items in the shop.  I did pick up a white & red striped top for $10 and only later realised it was from Sarah Jessica Parker's Bitten range.  I always was a Carrie fan.  Final stop of the day was the famous Powell's bookstore: a whole city block and nine rooms of books.  By the time I got there Richard had been browsing for two hours and it was another two till we left, weighed down with fifteen books between us.