I have been to Portland a few times before, once in middle school and once in high school. Both times I visited I was very impressed by the city, and this time was no different. Portland is a very progressive place; the city has established an urban growth boundary which has limited the amount of urban sprawl that plagues so many metropolitan areas. Portland also is supposed to have an excellent mass transportation system.
In Portland we stayed with my mom’s cousin Donna and her family. She has an amazing house in the hills just outside the city where we got to experience some quality food and wine. We cruised around downtown in Donna’s black Range Rover – I must say I felt like quite the pimp. It was too bad that we couldn’t spend a bit more time in Portland, but we had a timetable to keep. The next morning we headed off to San Fran.
The drive down I-5 through Oregon and Northern California was gorgeous. We stopped for lunch in Ashland, OR at this place called Wiley’s World, a delicious organic eatery where I enjoyed an amazing mushroom and scallop pasta dish.
We considered turning off I-5 at this point and heading toward the coast in order to check out Redwoods National Park, but it looked like too much a detour, so we continued on towards our destination. In Northern California we were treated to great views of Mt. Shasta before decending into the central valley.
And so, after a good 2000+ mile journey, we reached the Bay Area. We could not have asked for better weather when we arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge. We stopped at an overlook before crossing the bridge and could not believe my eyes. We were treated to panoramic views of the entire bay. After admiring the view for a bit, we headed into San Fransico to meet up with an old friend from college.
After spending an hour trying to find parking, we finally met up with Adam, a friend from Bates who I studied abroad in Vienna with. I had not seen him in a few years, and he showed us a great time. We headed off to the Stinking Rose, a resturant that serves garlic seasoned with food. The food was great, but after the meal our breath was not. We quickly headed to the bar and tried to cover up the garlic stench with Jagermeister and beer. Adam took us to some famous spots, such as Vesuvio, a bar that used to be frequented by the likes of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady.
The next morning, Adam and his girlfriend gave us a grand walking tour of the city. Again the weather was perfect – sunny and cool. We saw most of the city; Fisherman’s Warf, Downtown, the Castro, Mission, and Haight-Ashbury. We ended the day by watching the sunset on top of an apartment.
I loved San Francisco. The people were some of the friendliest that I have ever met. Every meal that I ate was delicious and the nightlife was superb. I was walking near the waterfront and I came accross a quotation on the outside of a construction site:
It is an odd thing, but everyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city, and possess all the attractions of the next world. ~ Oscar Wilde
A few times while walking around the city, I certianly felt like this place was some sort of urban utopia. Adam said that “San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality.” After spending a few days here, I can already see why this area is so popular with residents. This city would be a great place in which to live – especially in your twenties or thirties.
Special thanks to Adam, Liz, Katie, and Jamie for showing us a great time here.
The next few days I will be staying in Freemont, near San Jose, with some family friends. Tomorrow we are going to head down to Santa Cruz and check out the beach…