It’s always a bit strange for me to spend time in Portland, Oregon.
It’s the first city I lived in when I moved out west and it’s the city now portrayed in a fun and fractured way in the IFC show Portlandia and in Portlandia: A Guide for Visitors, a book that claims to describe “all that this magical, dreamy city has to offer.”
I stayed one night in the Hotel deLuxe, which offers a Pilgrimage to Portlandia package, and two nights at the Heathman Hotel, which won my heart by sending someone to my room within five minutes of my arrival with a copy of my Oregon Curiosities book for me to sign so it could be added to the on-site library filled with books by authors – many of them really, really famous – who have stayed at the hotel.
Most of the weekend was spent racing around the city – on foot and on public transportation – visiting hot spots such as Powell’s Books, the Peculiarium and the Lan Su Chinese Garden, and trying to find all the venues offering the free treats that come with the Portland Passport visitors receive when they book a room through the Travel Portland site before March 31st.
The somewhat Porlandia-ish list of treats includes a doughnut from Voodoo Doughnut (where the far-out offerings include a doughnut covered in Fruit Loops and one covered in bubble gum dust and decorated with a wrapped piece of gum), a tour of Widmer Brothers Brewing (free anyway, but passport holders get a free full-sized souvenir glass), a scoop of ice cream at Salt & Straw (sorbet at 10:30 in the morning? Why not?) and five other items, some of which were inspired by the ‘what-to-do-in-Portland-in-the-winter‘ tips gathered from Portland insiders.
The most puzzling place on the passport is the 10-piece meatball plate: a reward for visitors who make the trek out to IKEA.
“Pacific Northwesterners love IKEA, especially when it’s tax-free,” is the way Courtney Ries, consumer marketing manager for Travel Portland explained it. “And since we can’t give everyone a bookshelf or a new kitchen, we thought it would be something fun for the people that make IKEA a must-visit place when they come to town – or for those that have a special hankering for meatballs.”
Fair enough. But IKEA is just one stop on the MAX light rail line before my favorite place in the city – Portland International Airport – and there are plenty of fun and unique shops and restaurants there – along with art and entertainment. And, while I arrived in town on the train, it might be fun for visitors coming to town by plane to get their last passport stamp – and tasty treat – as they head home.
It’s Souvenir Sunday and time to take a look at some of the fun, inexpensive, locally-linked items you can find when you’re stuck at the airport.
This week’s treasures come from Oregon’s Portland International Airport (PDX), which I visited while trying to collect on all the offers included in the Portland Passport that Travel Portland is offering visitors as a perk with hotel rooms booked through its site from now through April 1st. The freebies include tasty treats such as a cream doughnut from Voodoo Doughnuts (their slogan is “The magic is in the hole.”) and a YouCanHasCheeseburger from Brunch Box, one of the 500 or so food carts in a city known now as “Food Cart Heaven.”
For some reason, a plate of meatballs from the cafeteria at IKEA is one of the items on the passport. And while I don’t eat meat, (they offered a nice Greek salad instead) I was all too happy to make the trek out there because IKEA is just one stop on the MAX light rail before the airport.
Portland International Airport is one of my favorite airports partly because I used live nearby, but also because among the many amenities it offers is a pre-security shopping street with outlets from some of the city’s most popular local stores. And because in Oregon, there is no sales tax.
I found the Oregon-themed table cloth pictured up top at the airport’s Pendleton store, which carries a wide variety of iconic Pendleton apparel and blankets as well a nice variety of accessories and items for children.
A bit out of my price range at $185 but, as another shopper was quick to point out, definitely offered at market price, were these Dr. Martens boots, a cool collaboration between the two companies.
Do you poke around the shops when you’re stuck at the airport? If so, please be on the look-out for items that are fun, inexpensive and “of” the city or region. If you do, please snap a photo and send it along. If your airport souvenir is featured on StuckatTheAirport.com, I’ll send you a travel souvenir.