A Green City

Trip Start Jan 05, 2012
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Flag of United States  , Oregon
Monday, May 7, 2012

In May there is something magical about Portland , something beautiful about Portland, and something mesmerising about Portland: the trees.

The aesthetically pleasing appearance of trees lining the street helps to prevent people like me, who tend to dislike cities, from immediately rejecting this city as just another headache waiting to happen. The importance of these trees isn't all about their appearance, it is also health-related and even in the short time I spent in Portland I was constantly shocked at the quality of the air, even in the hustle-bustle of downtown Portland; for the first time ever I was enjoying breathing in a city.

The atmosphere was the clincher though with the wind blowing seeds from the trees as you wandered the city streets giving you the opportunity to watch the little white and green seeds dancing in the wind towards the ground, then become mesmerised at the huge piles of seeds lining the roads and piled on the pathway which would pick up and attempt to fly once more. If the dancing seeds still weren't enough by themselves to give you the much needed mental relaxation when immersing yourself in city-culture then the numerous and quite large grassy parks lined with trees give people a place to stop and rest a moment before returning to their busy lives.

To call Portland a green city would be an understatement and yet it is the most accurate description available. Forget the city of roses, this is the city of greens; my favourite being the bright glowing lime-green leaves which caught the sun and created a natural sky-light for the streets. Green wasn't just in the trees though, it appeared everywhere: on statues, references made about men and beer alike, and it just seemed to be the colour on everyone's minds.

To be honest though, green is not the only colour that caught my attention despite it being important enough to mention in such detail. The houses in some areas were painted in purples, oranges, pinks, blues and other bright colours that seemed to fit in with the natural colours being created by the flowers that were already in bloom.

If the natural side of the city streets still isn't enough to make you fall in love with this city then the International Rose Test Garden will help. It wasn't blooming just yet but some buds were opening early and with a little imagination you could paint a very beautiful canvas of what it was going to look like during the rose season.

Personally though, I spent the better part of a day enjoying the Hoyt Arboretum trails and simply lazing on the grass in the sunlight. A perfect way and place to enjoy the sunny weather.

This city is not all based around environmental themes and also provides numerous other ways to enjoy yourself. The drinking scene can be enjoyable with cheaper costs due to no taxes and many places have good happy hour prices. I particularly enjoyed Bartini's half priced martinis. The cultural scene is quite hip and trendy in places, and I enjoyed a day on Albert Street looking at art galleries, niche-market stores and interesting murals.

As for accommodation, the HI Hostel Portland Northwest was the strictest of all the hostels I've stayed in thus far. You don't stay in hostels for the rules though, it is the people who make it interesting and the mixture of people at this hostel was very interesting indeed. There were of course the Australians you meet at every single hostel/city/gutter you travel and they are always enjoyable unless they are obnoxious (which at this time in Portland they weren't),  there are the hippy guys who are perpetually placid but engaged at the same time, the perpetually drunk and then there are the random assortments of other travellers you meet.

Ann is the crazy, exciteably, talkative and friendly Alaskan-resident who laughs uncontrollably until she is in tears without any apparent reason, and spends most of her time trying to understand other English accents with great difficulty. She is an essential element to an enjoyable night out because with her breaking out in fits of laughter all night everyone else feels quite comfortable that they are not being the odd one out - as that job is filled (although, we are ALL odd ones out in this world). Of course, I personally like the genuinely strange people who are genuinely friendly and enjoyed every moment, confusing or not, that I spent with Ann.

Megan fills the role of the person who is completely comfortable with herself and yet unsure of herself at the same time. She is happy to tell you her views on any subject without concern but shies away from the camera, having particular issues with her 'apparent' double chin which she doesn't actually have. The thing I noticed most was the moments when someone would say a 'joke' that may or may not have been funny but were most definitely awkward she would break the awkward tension every time with her friendly sounding, but obviously directed laugh emanating from the shock that someone would actually say something so stupid. Megan and I had a lot of views on life in common, even down to not enjoying shopping for shoes.

Alice was the kind of British person who constantly reminded Ann of Mary Poppins; Ann even commented on the fact that apparently Alice had an umbrella in her bag. She seemed delicate and yet strong, social but at the same time independent and carried herself with the sort of graceful dignity you'd expect of the British stereotype. Like Megan she'd laugh at people who were socially awkward in some way but she'd do it quietly, and she'd laugh the exact same way at herself as well.

Of course, there is always at least one obnoxious person at a hostel and this time we all met the most obnoxious American possible who earned himself the nickname Jack Black. Jack (whose real name was Jake) was the hypocritical know-it-all type who drank at breakfast, and went on and on about how talented he was without ever backing it up. He committed the biggest hostel faux pas there is: pulling out the guitar after bragging about your music ability only to need huge amounts of peer pressure to actually play something. This was after he peer pressured, or tried to pressure, everyone else to play despite the fact that few of us actually knew how. If I were to sum him up I'd probably just conclude with: loud attention-seeking socially-awkward musician.

To sum up my time spent in Portland, however, I'd have to say: AMAZING!
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