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We just returned from a highly enjoyable two-week road trip through Oregon. Our adventures started in Portland, a mostly scenic seven-hour drive from Vancouver, BC.

Classy, über modern The Nines Hotel is located right in the heart of Portland’s Pioneer Square.

The Nines Hotel Pioneer Courthouse
[The Nines Hotel, Pioneer Courthouse]

We stayed in a courtyard-facing room on the 11th floor. Our view was down to a series of lounges and living room spaces perfect for conversation, drinks, and relaxing.

The Nines Hotel The Nines Hotel lounge
[Our modern, yet cozy room; the view down to the lounge from the 8th floor]

Departure is the hotel’s top-floor lounge with a wrap-around deck, offering up gorgeous views of downtown – the first of its kind in Portland. We headed up on a couple of occasions, enjoying a cocktail and small plate appetizer or two from their Pan Asian menu.

Arriving at Departure

Exiting from the elevator leads guests down a darkened runway with bright pink lights to guide the way to Departure.

Happy hour on our hotel's 15th floor Portland views Portland views from Departure Lounge at The Nines Hotel

Parking in the city isn’t too difficult but definitely not cheap. We parked near the hotel to cut our four night bill in half (most hotels charge nearly 40 dollars per day). Leave your car behind though; Portland is easily walkable and the downtown core offers free light rail transit.

We also opted for a 2 1/2 hour walking tour. Highly recommended as the city is full of interesting notables.

Liberty Bell replica
[Liberty Bell replica, without crack]

Smallest park in America
[America’s smallest park, as listed in the Guinness World Records]

Portland Day 3-33
[Early bus stop, transformed into a coffee bar]

On to the food carts. Lots of them here. Even with the Cart Compass PDX app installed on my iPhone, it was still hard to plan any trips to certain carts: when you’re hungry, you find the first pod in the area and sort it out from there.

Portland food carts Portland food carts Portland Day 3-52

We did find a few favourites in the Stark and 5th Street area. And not far away were two Portland institutions, Stumptown Coffee and Voodoo Doughnuts.

The coveted pink box
[The coveted pink box]

Voodoo Doughnuts' Dirt doughnut and others

It took us three attempts to get in the door of the latter, and we picked three sugary masterpieces: Dirt, Maple Blazer Blunt, and Butterfingering. By the time it was our turn to order, popular Maple Bacon Bar and Voodoo Doll were gone.

The names of the doughnuts are as interesting as their combinations. Open after recent/delayed renovations, the shop draws a queue day and night.

Our favourite breakfast joint by far is Mother’s Bistro, with their plentiful portions and “Call Your Mother” emblazoned on the back of their branded coffee mugs. They do right by serving Stumptown Coffee in a french press. So smooth and a great way to start off the morning. Word of warning: expect long queues at weekend brunch.

The Japanese Gardens are a short distance from downtown and worth the trek. I’ve written a more detailed post about it here.

From Portland, we headed to the Oregon coast, inland to Roseburg, continuing to Bend and Hood River (where we stayed in a fully restored Queen Anne Victorian in tiny Mosier), before winding our way back through the Columbia River Historic Highway and home again.

Other articles in this series: Portland Japanese Garden, Oregon Coast highlights, Deschutes Brewery tour, Thundering Waters Inn.


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