I’m not going to lie, when I stepped off the plane in Portland, I had a 2 minute freak out. I was actually on the west coast, by myself, with no real itinerary. What did I get myself into? The 2 minutes seemed like forever, but they passed nonetheless, and I continued on to baggage claim. After getting my bags and hopping on the Max train, (public transportation in Portland is dabomb) I look out the window, and what do I see on the window ledge? 4 paper cranes. You have got to be kidding me. (For those of you just tuning in, the HSD staff were the ones that encouraged me and more or less pushed me onto the plane for this trip, so seeing the Japanese paper cranes was just a little reminder of the support system I have back home :)) It was also a sign that I was in the right place, that this trip was meant to be, and that everything would be OK.

It was about 1pm by the time I checked into my room, and I was already a bit jet-lagged and super hungry. Airplane peanuts only go so far :) So I headed out into downtown for lunch at one of the infamous food trucks, and thus began the trip.

Now, when you’re traveling alone, three things are very helpful:

1. Nice people – If you ever go to Portland, have been to Portland, or have just heard about Portland, you might have picked up on the notion that Portland people are really nice. Well, ‘really nice’ is an understatement. ‘Overly helpful,’ ‘extremely welcoming,’ and ‘super friendly’ are more like it. Yea, maybe the 3 maps and suitcase triggered a lot of it, but still.. everyone I met was easy to talk to and happy to help. Whether it was figuring out the streetcar system, giving suggestions on where to eat or what to see, or just striking up a conversation to pass the time, I never felt alone. So if you want to get your feet wet on the solo-travelling, Portland would be a great starting point.

2. A map – yes, GoogleMaps is nice, and having an iPhone was lifesaving at times, but I’m talking about an old-fashion, hard copy map. There’s nothing like whipping out a map that covers your entire placemat and the person next to you at a bar, and figuring out your next move. Yea I looked ridiculous and automatically labeled myself as a tourist, but it actually ended up acting like my own little wing-man. Not only did it start interesting conversations, but it also seemed to be quite the friend-magnet. After the first day, I didn’t use it as much since I was getting more acclimated with the area, but I still never left home without it :)

And 3. Coincidentally being in the same city as your BFF from middle school, who you haven’t seen in who-knows-how-long. There’s nothing like traveling 3000 miles to reunite with an old friend. Thanks to FB, we found out there might be a chance we’d be in Portland around the same time. So without hesitation, I texted Amy as soon as I landed, which happened to be about the exact same moment she was pulling into the city. We met up at a local brewery, and caught up on the past few years. We’ve tried several times to get together while we were both living in VA, but I guess there’s something about being in a completely new city that makes everything work out. It was the perfect start to my Portland trip, and it was just like old times. Not to mention, her boyfriend Will happened to meet up with a friend from his study abroad program, who ALSO happens to work for Portlandia. NBD people. (All you non-believers, see below for proof!)


Not only did I eat on the street with a pigeon, but I also tried a burger with spam on it. Drinking the sauce as we HSDers like to call it.


Bailey’s Taproom. Local beers, low price, and the most awesome digital diagram. Shows you the name of the beer, where it’s from, what color it is, how much alcohol percentage each beer has, and how much is left in each keg. Technology these days.


Amy and I reminiscing about my middle school haircut and how insane it was to meet up under such crazy circumstances. Check her out on Instagram to see all the pics from her 5-week roadtrip!


New friends, old friends, and Portlandia employees. Not pictured: our older friend David, who is a successful shrink in the Portland area, and may or may not have given me a peptalk about where I am in life, and what to do next. His going-rate is about $3/minute, so we paid our dues for his 45 minutes of time with a $3 beer. He didn’t even finish his beer.

Ha! Proof!

 
And here’s the infamous map. With photo proof that it brought along a new friend.

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