Friday, February 3, 2012

Getting Started in Portland

It has been a little over a week since we have moved to Portland so it is time for a blog post! Our time has pretty much been spent settling in to our apartment and doing some exploring. We have also incorporated visits to some of our favorite places. I'll go over what we have been up to and what some of my initial impressions have been.

1908 Triplex in Portland where we are renting a room
First, I'll highlight the move experience. Although you can call it a move it actually felt more like one of our travel adventures. We decided that we were just going to fly out to Portland with checked luggage and move any remaining items at a later date.  We each took three pieces of checked baggage plus two carry ons. Most of what we brought in our checked baggage were clothes. We brought other miscellaneous items such as bacon in one of my carry ons :-). Alethea carried her personal safe as a carry on which I thought was hilarious. She surprisingly made it through security without even having to open it although it was scanned twice at the security checkpoint in Nashville. She ended up gate checking one of her carry on bags so she could carry the safe all the way to Portland. I didn't get questions for the bacon or anything else.

Alethea carrying her safe through the DFW airport
In all our day of traveling was pretty smooth. We spent the morning running a few last minute errands. To get to the airport we had to get a ride from Alethea's neighbors since they had a van that could hold all of our luggage! Our day of traveling consisted of two flights on American Airlines. Our first flight of the day was a 2 hour flight from Nashville to Dallas-Ft. Worth that left at 2 pm. The flight was a little choppy but uneventful. We had about a 90 minute layover in DFW before our flight to Portland. Our flight to Portland was just over 4 hours. Best part about our flights is that we were in business class and we were actually served a full meal on our DFW to Portland flight. We also enjoyed the free alcohol too. It was the first time I have flown first class on American. I do like flying in first class although it rarely happens and I don't think the extra cost justifies it. Once we arrived in Portland we had to rent a couple of carts for $4 a piece to take our luggage out to the taxi queue where we boarded a taxi van. After a 10 mile $42 (with tip) taxi ride with a few twists and turns, we arrived at a our apartment. We met the daughter of the owner of our place who lives a close by. She showed us around and took our rent check.

me enjoying a meal in 1st class on our flight from DFW to PDX
As I mentioned earlier we've spent most of our time getting settled with a little bit of exploring. I'll now touch on some of things I have liked so far. The thing I like the most so far is our apartment which is a good thing since we have committed to staying here for at least 3 months. Our apartment is a triplex house built in 1908. The owner estimated the size of our unit at a little over 825 square feet. I think it may be a little bigger. We have a bedroom, living room, kitchen, kitchen area, office, bathroom with tub, and a basement with our own washer and dryer. I am relieved that it has turned out to be a place we both like since we rented it sight unseen. We viewed pictures online and Alethea spoke to the owner at length.

pic of our living room 
In addition to our apartment I really like the neighborhood we are in. It is called the Hawthorne area. We are within walking distance of two grocery stores (the 3rd, a Safeway is being remodeled). There are several restaurants, shops, a library, & a main bus line all withing a very short distance. Our place is also pretty quiet. We are located a couple blocks off the main road in a residential neighborhood.

The weather has been another aspect that I am enjoying. The Pacific Northwest has a reputation for being gray and rainy but since we've been here it has been mostly sunny with highs in the low 50's. It has only rained a couple times. The locals have been a little surprised with a few telling us that it has been unusually sunny.

Alethea walking back in the sunny Portland January weather 
I am also enjoying the public transportation which was to be expected. We've covered quite a bit of ground in our short time here. We've made a couple trips to Target and Bed, Bath, and Beyond to purchase some things for our apartment since that is where we have a few gift cards. It is nice to be able to get around without the use and expense of a car. Hopefully, we'll keep this up for awhile. 

I guess the final thing I'll mention as a favorite is all the excellent beer. Portland now has about 40 micro brews to chose from. The local super markets have so many choices of beer that it can be overwhelming at times. We have already visited some of our favorites bars from our previous stay in Portland. My favorite so far was a visit to Serratto's in NW Portland. They have by far the best hamburger in Portland that I have tasted to date.

The Painted Hills Burger from Serratto's - best in Portland
I was actually going to include a section here about some of things that I am not liking since we have arrived in Portland but I cannot really think of anything worth mentioning. Alethea has been a little banged up and under the weather which isn't fun. We have decided to purchase a few things for our apartment that I wasn't necessarily expecting but that is more about tailoring our apartment to our tastes. So far we purchased a coffee maker which I know is ironic since I recently sold one and Alethea gave one away shortly before we moved. Our apartment came with a Melitta type pot but this is something we're not accustom to. We also purchased a space heater for our room. Our room is a little cold but small. We decided to purchase a space heater for ~$30  a Target versus cranking the heat up to heat the entire apartment. It seems more efficient this way. Our room is very toasty now. We also purchased a computer monitor. Why a computer monitor? Our apartment didn't come with a TV which we knew and are completely fine with. However, if we want to stream something on TV or watch a movie together we thought it would be best if we got a monitor. One other last item we purchased was a microwave. We bought a small 700 watt used one for $20 on Craigslist from someone who lives just a few blocks away. We have a real nice gas stove for cooking but a microwave is just too handy for heating up leftovers and popcorn!

only half of the beer selection @ the local Fred Meyer's - they also sell wine at this location which is illegal in TN
That pretty wraps up this post. I think we are pretty much settled in. Before too long we will shift in to job searching mode which will probably end up being a series of blog posts. I'm grateful that we decided to save up or at least put enough money aside so we didn't have to rush to get a job after our travels. It was part of our RTW trip planning to do this. It makes things a lot less stressful. I'm looking forward to getting back to work and getting into somewhat of a routine. Speaking of a routine Alethea and I joined a gym today. Our membership actually starts Monday the 6th. Figured I would wait until after football season is over with. The gym is about a half mile from our apartment. One cool thing about it is that we can earn gift cards by working out on treadmills and elliptical machines that produce electricity and feed it back to the grid. I believe their website says they generate over 30% of their electricity this way. Should be fun! Hope everyone is doing well.

Link to a temporary album I created that has a few interior picks of our apartment: