Visiting Aaron in Portland for the first time, I was struck by how much the nature in Oregon resembles Norway. Our roadtrip to Indian Beach, roughly two hours north of Portland, was by far one of my favorite days of my trip. The US is so different from Europe in so many ways, and both the positive and negative aspects of this difference doesn’t seem to seize to amaze me. Driving north, we stopped at a little gas station to get something to drink (and an ice cream sandwich for me), and the entire wall behind the counter was filled with guns. For sale. Right there. Waiting for Aaron outside, this huge guy wearing not only one, but two rifles and three knives, walks in. There is something so deeply troubling and disturbing about that. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling rushing through me. My whole body felt instantly cold and uncomfortable, like it does seconds before you faint, or throw up. As we drove off, and into this gorgeous forest with tree tops closing in above us, filtrating the most beautiful sunlight, and a forest floor covered by big, green ferns I could’t help but being a bit struck by the huge contrasts.
Driving out of the forest and into the sunlight, seeing Indian beach stretched out before us, was the perfect cure for the horrific first meeting with the American gun culture. Oregon has a really long coast line, and offer nature experiences I have never seen before. We didn’t have much time for hiking, but explored the beaches, and they were so gorgeous.
Indian beach is incredibly beautiful with huge rocks scattered along the coast. They are all covered in different kinds of sea shells and underwater flowers, and the beach is known for great, big waves which makes it a highly loved spot for surfers. This might be my favorite beach. We didn't actually get to the swimming part because the water so cold, but just laying on the beach, listening to music and reading a book was more than enough. Hoping the water will be a bit better next time we go, the waves were perfect to play in.
This beach is located about half an hour south of India beach, and is famous for the Haystack Rock. It’s quite incredible to see, but make sure to come at a time it won’t be filled with people. Canon beach is much more central than Indian beach, and therefore also more frequently visited. It’s situated in this little town, so if you are looking to grab some food or beers after a long day at the beach, this is perfect.
This short, little hike is quite an experience. Climbing over huge piles of slippery tree trunks, walking through deep, ice cold water and rocky surfaces, you make your way to this gorgeous waterfall at the end of the valley. Make sure to wear shoes that will give you a good grip when climbing over the wet tree trunks, and clothes that are suitable for collarbone deep water. I wore my workout clothes! We also had warm clothes and towels in the car for when we were done, and had a nice, hot bath when we got back. You will get cold, and wet, and most likely you will also be really excited and happy. Be careful if you bring a camera, but you are going to want to!!
If you are thinking about going to the US and want something different than the rush of Los Angeles, San Fransisco or New York, Oregon is really amazing. There is incredible food options here, great coffee, and a very laid-back and relaxed attitude. A few tips to get started on your culinary exploration:
There are two great doughnut places in Portland: Voodoo and Blue Star. They are both amazing, but in very different ways. Get both and compare, I get my fix from both every time I’m here. Voodoo is the perfect doughnut in terms of fluffiness, and will get you the authentic American doughnut experience. They have all the classical flavors, and a bunch of crazy ones. They are known for weird shapes and sizes, and a lot of strange flavors, but their simple, glazed doughnut is by far my favorite. It’s perfectly fluffy and sweet! Blue Star is known for being bit more high end, which is visible through both design and flavor combinations. They have a great collection of flavors, and offer a different kind of experience that Voodoo.
Heart Coffee is magnificent. They open at 7am, which is amazing when you want to get an early start and get some word done, and offer great coffee. Traveling from Copenhagen, where the ideal flavor and roast is quite acidic, it’s such a death of fresh air to come to Portland, where the coffee is much more rounded, smooth and balanced. I love it, and always buy enough beans to last me until my next visit. The Stereo blend is the favorite! Try their vanilla lattewith home made vanilla bean syrup, or a cappuccino with their freshly made cashew and almond milk.
LITTEL BIG BURGER
Burgers in America are really something. They are cheap, really delicious, and made with really fresh ingredients. Little big burger is a tiny, little burger, but big on flavor! Try their cheeseburger with cheddar cheese and truffle oil fries!
If you are in the mood for ramen, dumplings, sushi and cocktails, this is the place! We went there the day after their grand opening, and it was by far one of my favorite meals in Portland this time around.
This is great Spanish food! You can order a half or whole chicken with different sauces, or from their meny of tapas. It’s quite cheap, and offer great flavor and exciting combinations.
SALT AND STRAW
Ice cream is always nice, but Salt and Straw is extra nice. Their flavors are quite untraditional, but you are allowed as many taste testes as you need to make a decision, so don’t be afraid to ask! Their ice cream shop is located in e really nice area, so make sure to go for a little walk around the neighborhood and look at the houses and gardens. Expect a line, but don’t worry, it moves fairly quickly! Salt and Straw also has a soft serve place downtown, which might be my favorite. They have more traditional flavors like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and salted caramel, and has a huge selections of different toppings like cookie dough, Oreos and caramel.
I also have to mention Powell’s Books! I have always loved reading, but while getting my degree it didn’t feel like I had time or energy to really do that. When visiting Portland for the first time this June, Aaron took me to Powell’s and we got lost in there for hours. Bookstores are the best, and I really regained my love for reading this summer, after visiting this one. If you are at all interested in books, Powell’s is heaven. They have a huge collection of books divided into different sections by themes and topics. They have a nice little coffee shop where you can have a little rest, or sit and work for a bit. Just don’t spill coffee on your books, like I did. I guess coffee stains just add that extra personality and memory of how you got your books.
If you ever get a chance to go to Portland, you really should.
Exploring Oregon is quite amazing in so many different ways.