Friday, March 26, 2010

Books, dresses, bikes.

Once upon a time when I was much much younger and lived in a huge, old city, I was briefly and inexplicably a bike messenger. The point being? Portland is a bike messengers wet dream. It's flat, cyclist- friendly and biking is cooler than thou.

I wish I had a picture of us biking in our matching garb, borrowed messenger bag and helmets, especially the helmets which were popular, but not as popular as they should be for city cyclists. Hipsters, pay attention.

Doing that made me feel infinitely more connected to the city, giving me an opportunity to make like I belonged, and experience more than you could just walking around in a new environment.

I also wish that I had pictures of all the yummy foods we ate, or even just the names of the restaurants that Talu took me to, but frankly, I'm not that organized.

So instead I have a bunch of random shots, from around town, and my two favorite Portland shopping locations, one old, one new.

The weather was fabulous when I got there, sunny, in the 6os and, at times, almost summery. I even got a tiny bit of a tan from all the biking.
One of the must stops on my list was Powell's bookstore, where I could pretty much live, even if it meant eating nothing but muffins from the coffee shop and sleeping between rite-in-the-rain displays in the haunted corridor.
In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, maybe I could just be cremated and spread somewhere in the fiction section, when I die? Maybe they'd think it was morbid...Anyways, check out this ah-mazing Nancy Drew-shelf.
I grew up with 60s Nancy colors, with her bright red page-boy do, and lots of close-ups, but these are sweet too. Now that I think about it maybe those were illustrated by a Finnish cover artist? Does anyone else remember 60s style Nancy Drew covers?
When I was reading them the series was titled (directly translated) Miss Detective. That always cracks me up. Another interesting tidbit is that in Finland Nancy is actually called Paula Drew. I don't know why. They didn't bother to change Georges name, for instance, and that's way harder to prononce than Nancy...
So, if you haven't been there, you must be wondering by now if Powell's even sells any non-Carolyn Keene related literature. Fret not. It ain't called "The City of Books" for nothin'.
In fact it was so busy, that the only place I could find to take a shot was in the nerd-isle, which featured titles on poker, with Lara Croft on the cover. Now that's quality literature.
They have this really cute system of staff recommendations.
Honestly, I got totally overwhelmed in the store both times I've been there. Like misting up, hyperventilating overwhelmed. If I could I would just stay forever, roaming between the books, foraging for food in the afore-mentioned cafe. I've felt the same way in the British Museum reading room, and the Village Voice bookstore in Paris. Places with books are like churches to me.
I did manage to escape without too much financial damage, and score some essentials, such as a couple of Annie Proulx titles, as well as entirely new books as well. Our next stop however turned out to be a little bit more wallet-damaging...
No, I did not go visit the city of plaid, but the Red Light vintage store. They have one in Seattle too.
Thank Goddess we went in about half an hour before they closed. I could have bought everything. Well, maybe not everything, but there was a lot of cute stuff.
I got a bunch of swap stuff, a daisy-dress, which had been on my list for a long time, a pair of leggins, which is always on my list and a new favorite dress:
It may not look like much on pixels, but it's pure magic head-to-toe. Real live outfit pics coming soon.
The most fun I had in Portland though, was hanging out with Talu, eating yummy cuisines and taking bike trips, such as this bike-and-hike to the top of Mt. Tabor. Shopping is one thing, but biking friends are a whole lot more fun.
Other awesome things I saw in Portland that I did not get a picture of:

1. A yellow 80s Toyota Corolla with four teenagers in it who were all wearing Kiss-face-paint.
2. A gang of three hipsters on bikes all wearing different colored skinny jeans, one smoking, one drinking what looked like a beer.
3. A Victorian house painted all different colors, but only the top floor visible because it's whole front yard was full of cherry trees.
4. A stop sign that said: STOP waiting for Godot. (I think I've seen one in Seattle too.)
5. Two fully geared, spandex clad sports cyclists asking directions from bums. The bums were obliging them.

All in all, Portland gets a high score for a city, and a city not even by the sea mind you.


  1. oh sounds so lovely! My old roommates moved there, that's wht they are my "old" roommates. Wish i had the time to venture for a few days to a new state but hiking around and rummaging through thrift stores in LA will have to do for now. Can't wait to see more pics of the dress you bought!

  2. Me too on bookstores. I could spend hours......

  3. The bookstore looks so amazing - I feel myself hyperventilating just thinking about them - ha ha!

    I had some of those 1960s style Nancy Drew books bought second hand - I can't remember what country they were from though. I'll have to dig them out. Love that they have a dedicated section.

    Hilarious about the hipsters and Beckett inspired sign too.

  4. this post makes me want to take a road trip to portland. i love powells SO MUCH. every city needs a bookstore filling a whole city block. and i've been known to wander in there for hours too and rendezvous with loved ones at a later date. those are probably my two favorite places to shop in portland too. last summer i went to red light and had to try on probably thirty things. i only bought two for which i was very proud of myself, but i was in there so long that i got lost from my friends. and the little powells is rad too, across from red light.

    i only read a couple nancy drew books but read all the hardy boys i could get my hands on...did you have those in finland?

    as for bike riding and climbing green hills with your friend, shine on sunshine! beauteous and lovely!

  5. i think im in love with your blog! so cute!

    xo tiffany

  6. portland is the place to be these days. like all of the fun stuff of seattle smooshed into a smaller space.

    speaking of bookstore, elliot bay bookstore in seattle is moving to a new space in capitol hill. *tear*
    but as long a magus is still alive and kicking, i'll survive.

    i hope you have checked that one out. Magus is in the u district, right by this magical ally with my favorite coffee shop, cafe allegro. I think its either on 42nd or 43rd and the Ave.

    Anyways, I read your blog often and thought you might like this musician, Basia Bulat. Check her out:

  7. How fun, biking really does seem like the perfect way to experience Portland.

    Powells is SO completely overwhelming, isn't it? We didn't even attempt to go on our last trip with Clover. First of all, could you imagine trying to navigate those levels and corridors with a stroller and the alternative of not having her strapped down in there... what an easy place to become distracted and lose a runaway toddler, we'd never find her!

    Sounds like you had a really awesome trip, I can't wait to see the new favorite dress in all its glory!

  8. Wow!
    Portland is magical. We were there once for two nights when I was newly pregnant, staying with Alela, who we had called that evening saying "Um, we're in town and have nowhere to stay, can we crash?"
    Powell's was definitely the highlight for me. I bought so much. It is Heaven.
    I can't wait to see photos of the new clothes, especially the daisy dress!

  9. hehehe- love the teenagers in the kiss makeup!
    that's pretty rad that you were a bike messenger. talk about getting in great shape!
    we have many 60s nancy drew books. the kids love them...and so do i.

    portland sure is pretty. i've never been there, but would love to visit sometime.
    can't wait for outfit post :D

    i just reread this comment and i'm cracking up at how poorly it is written. oh well, i just woke up, what do i expect ;D

  10. reading your lovely post just brought a big smile to my face! You're right how special bookstores can be, all the new adventures and knowledge waiting to be discovered when you turn the pages... oh and seeing the Nancy Drew shelf brought back childhood memories of riding my little bicycle in australia to the library where I'd borrow stacks of Nancy Drews...and then pretend to be a mystery solving detective myself :)

  11. ha ha! nice :) it seems you truly soaked up Seattle. I've never been, but I'd sure like to go and that bookstore will be on the top of my list for sure!

  12. Sounds like a perfect trip. I second that comment about being places filled with books is a church like experience, it's spiritual isn't it?!? Love.
    PS. That vintage shop made me sooo jealous! Can't wait to see the real live shots of the clothes stuffs you aquired...

  13. Great post! I have some of those Nancy Drew books. :)

  14. I want to go to this place. Too bad I live in the UK. I'll have to find a similar village to quench my thirst instead. I love your blog by the way, I've been a follower for some time. xxx

  15. I've never been to Portland but one of my pen pals lives there and she actually works at Red Light! The book store looks epic too.

  16. I can't even express how cool it was to see a picture of that Nancy Drew shelf! I have been asking myself the Paula question for as long as I can remember, too!

    And what a great-looking bookstore! it reminds me of one in Ithaca, NY. It is much, much smaller, but they have a similar staff recommendation system, all hand-written.

    And I love the dress you got. Must see you wear it soon. :)

  17. I just took a very scientific and I'm sure accurate online quiz regarding which US city is best suited to my personality and Portland was number 2! What with all the nice things you have to say I can see why.