Love the layover: at play in Portland, Oregon


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.”

This visit I was a guest of Travel Portland – and most definitely a tourist.

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.

PDX Voodoo

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.


Virgin America’s Portlandia-themed party kicks off PDX service

On Tuesday, Virgin America added an 18th city, Portland, to its service network adding two daily flights from Los Angeles and two from San Francisco. As is its tradition, the airline had a fun launch event. And, as a former Portland resident, I went along for the ride as a guest.

For the launch event, the airline teamed up with IFC and its hit show “Portlandia” and invited “Portlandia” Mayor, actor Kyle MacLachlan, along as well as the real-life Portland Mayor Sam Adams, who plays MacLachlan’s assistant on the show.

"Portlandia" Mayor Kyle Maclachlan (center), real Portland Mayor SamAdams (right), Virgin America Dave Cush (left). Photo courtesy Virgin America

When it touched down at Portland International Airport the plane -named the mt. hoodie – was met by a delegation that included local dignitaries and a hangar full of people who had been invited to a Portland/Portlandia-themed party that included DJs, art projects and doughnuts, made by Portland’s infamous donut-makers, Voodoo Doughnuts.

The mt. hoodie is one of the airline’s newest airplanes. At San Francisco International Airport, it was parked next to Jefferson Airplane, the airline’s first aircraft.

(All photos, except where noted, by Harriet Baskas)