Monday, November 12 , 2018, 5:49 pm | Fair 65º


Judy Crowell: ‘Keep Portland Weird’ — a City’s Mantra.

Oregon city has its own vibe, and offers much that is funky and charmingly unique

The Hawthorne Bridge spanning the Willamette River, one of Portland’s many beautiful sights.
The Hawthorne Bridge spanning the Willamette River, one of Portland’s many beautiful sights. (Judy Crowell photo)

[Click here for gallery of related photos]

Weirdness, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder, so this account of my first visit to Portland, Oregon, focuses on the weird, the funky and the charmingly unique.

We ate our way through Portland, consuming everything from the sublime to the likable and ridiculous.

The Sublime: Veritable Quandry, a Portland gem whether inside or out on the flower filled patio; Three Degrees Waterfront Bar & Grill, riverside dining in the RiverPlace Hotel; Mother’s Bistro & Bar, fabulous full bar and crunchy French toast or Wild Salmon hash for brunch; Screen Door, for southern comfort; Kells Brew Pub, family friendly and acclaimed as Portland’s best brew pub; Tasty ‘n Sons, a neighborhood delight; Petite Provence, another neighborhood treasure for sidewalk seating and mouth watering croissants.

The Ridiculous: Brunchbox, for a Monte Cristo with a hamburger inside; Old Town Pizza, award winning pizzeria and brewery, where ghosts trapped below in the Shanghai tunnels reside; Salt ‘n Straw, for tomato water olive oil sherbet or almond brittle and salted ganache ice cream, surprisingly delicious; Waffle Window, for a Darkest Desire Waffle; one of many quaint food trucks; Rimsky Korsakoffee House, one of the city’s oldest coffee houses with “haunted tables.” Check out the upstairs bathroom, if you dare.

For a dash of Hollywood glamor, check into Hotel deLuxe, or for spectacular downtown views of the Willamette River, there’s the RiverPlace—a Kimpton Hotel.

For old fashioned quirkiness, go back to school and enroll at McMenanis Kennedy School, an old schoolhouse renovated in 1997, boasting 35 guest rooms, formerly the school’s classrooms.

The Three Degrees Waterfront Bar & Grill offers riverside dining in the RiverPlace Hotel. Click to view larger
The Three Degrees Waterfront Bar & Grill offers riverside dining in the RiverPlace Hotel. (Judy Crowell photo)

Original artwork in the former library, auditorium and hallways transport you back to a kinder, gentler time, when chalkboards and erasers predated laptops. Don’t miss this delightful renovation.

Must sees: Powell’s City of Books: an entire city block and book lover’s paradise; Portland Saturday Market: the nation’s largest open-air arts market; Aerial Tram: for city views 500 feet above Portland; The Real Mother Goose: showcase of fine American Craft; Pittock Mansion: historical home celebrating 100 years of history; Oregon Zoo: innovative zoo in a beautiful setting; Finnegan’s Toys: for young and young at heart; Japanese Garden: 5 acres of tranquil beauty; and The Rose Quarter: home of the Portland Trail Blazers.

OK, now for the "weirdness quotient," keeping in mind it’s only in the eyes of the beholder, and I do want to return to Portland someday soon!

Let’s start with the fact that it’s a law that dishes must drip dry.

It’s against the law to pump your own gas, and nobody could quite tell me why.

Patrons enjoy food and drink at Mother’s Bistro & Bar. Click to view larger
Patrons enjoy food and drink at Mother’s Bistro & Bar. (Judy Crowell photo)

Wall art is everywhere. Car art too, which sometimes involves wrapping the entire car in duct tape.

In downtown’s Ira Keller Fountain, swimming is not only allowed, it’s encouraged on the occasional hot day.

Elegant and scary mannequins pop up in odd places.

There’s a Vacuum Cleaner Museum.

Beer snobs everywhere arguing which organic brew is better.

Birkenstocks with white socks. Androgynous dressing in the style of dreary gray rain clouds, which brings me to my What To Pack Tips: cargo pants and a fleece jacket.

I think my favorite local take on weirdness sits in front of the Standard Oil Insurance Center, a white marble sculpture, called “Quest,” designed by Count Alexander von Svoboda and depicting nude figures.

Locals wittily refer to it as “Three Groins in a Fountain.”

Begun as a boost for small local businesses, “Keep Portland Weird” is embraced by many but not all Portlandians.

— Judy Crowell is a Noozhawk contributing writer, author, freelance travel writer and Santa Barbara resident. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The opinions expressed are her own.

Distinctive wall art adorns a Portland building. Click to view larger
Distinctive wall art adorns a Portland building. (Judy Crowell photo)

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