The final stop for my summer vacation this year was Portland, Oregon. My beloved friend Rachel had been asking me over for the longest time to show me around the hipster town. Since I didn’t have much to do when I get back from vacation, I decided to fly back to the west coast domestically within the USA, spend a few days in Portland, and take a bus back to Vancouver. It is cheaper that way anyways!
Portland is not that much different from Vancouver. It is like the cheaper-to-live-in version of Vancouver, with more hipster influences, better food carts and better beers. It was the perfect destination for me after being in New York City for more than 20 days. I was tired from the busy city life and sick from eating all the cheesy foods (I had the best bagels and pizzas in NYC yo!), I just wanted to chill and relax on the last few days of my trip.
Rachel knew exactly what I needed from this trip. She drove me out of the city to enjoy the scenic view of Columbia River Gorge, took me around town to shop and eat at her favourite places, and allowed me to chill for the rest of the time.
I was also very lucky that at the time I visited Portland, the roses in Washington Park Rose Garden were still blooming. I was so surprised to see such huge beds of roses, brightly coloured and sweetly scented. There were so many species and hybrids, and they even had a musician to play the harp in the middle of the garden. I felt like I was in heaven!
Portland is a beautiful place, but it has even more beautiful people. The highlight of my trip to Portland turns out to be not the destination, but the people that I met and how they made me feel. When I was there, I stayed at Rachel’s host family’s place, which was a super cosy filipino household. A living room filled with family photos and religious decorations, a fridge filled with unlimited supplies of food, a bathroom filled with bottles and bottles of unfinished shampoos… I almost forgot how it feels like to live in an actual home until I stayed there!
The family was super sweet and caring too. They would always check on me (and Rachel, of course) to make sure that I was comfortable at home, see if we were well fed, make sure that I’ve checked out the good spots in Portland, and they even took me all the way across the bridge to Vancouver, Washington for a nice dinner to welcome me. I felt so loved when I was there!
Oh oh oh, I’m not done yet! Besides the amazing host family that I had, I also met a new big sister/friend in my life! It was quite funny because Mun Li, a photographer whom Rachel met during one of the bridal photoshoots, turned out to be my cousin’s friend when he was attending the University of Oregon. We had a great conversation over coffee one afternoon, and only found out about the connection after we added each other on Facebook. What a small world isn’t it?
Meeting Mun Li reminded me a lot of my elder sisters, and meeting the Tupaz family reminded a lot of my entire family. I am really thankful that although I don’t get to meet my family this summer, I got to meet such great people and experience home again in a different city. Of course, all of these wouldn’t have happened if Rachel didn’t ask me to visit her in Portland. For that, and the amazing hospitality when I was there, I’m so thankful for this sweet friend of mine.
My vacation ended the perfect way without plan. It is always these unexpected things that make the travel special and unforgettable. I’m so glad I decided to make this trip this summer. I got to see different places, meet new people and experience different things. And best of all, I got to spend so much time with myself and get to know myself so much better! It really made me fall in traveling even more. Ah, where should my next destination be?