Portland, Oregon – probably most known for the great outdoor hikes, variety of food choices, and culture. This is my second state out of my 50 state journey. (See http://bjjbug.net/journey/).
This was one of the quicker flights that I’ve had recently. Traveling from LAX to PDX only took 2 hours. The airport is fairly small compared to LAX and easy to navigate as most of it is just in a straight line. For this particular trip, I rented a car at the airport so that I could get around quicker since I only had 2 full days in Portland.
- Portland is “divided” into four quadrants (NW, SW, NE, and SE) so you should research which quadrant would be the most convenient for you when you travel.
- There are lots of different ways to get around town. Public transportation is everywhere and for everything else you of course have Uber, Lyft, Taxis, etc.
- The BJJ schools are somewhat scattered if you’re looking at a map. However, it’s fairly easy to get around so it should take you no more than 15mins to go from school to school.
- For anyone coming from other states, be aware that if you’re driving, the speed limit here tends to be slower (especially for someone like myself who comes from Los Angeles).
- If you’re in Portland, be sure to save a few hours out of one of your mornings to check out the hiking trails outside of the city. The roads in Portland are very clean and you’ll see green all around.
- No Sales Tax! Take advantage of this if you plan on making any purchases.
- I can’t pump my own gas? Oregon is one of the few states where a worker will pump gas into your car for you! Definitely unique.
Places to Visit as a Tourist
Portland is very easy to navigate and most of the tourist spots are all fairly close to each other. Points of interest include:
- Portland City Grill (30th Floor View)
- Tom McCall Waterfront Park
- Washington Park
- Pittock Mansion
- Oregon Zoo
- Portland Art Museum
- International Rose Test Garden
- Portland Japanese Garden
- Lan Su Chinese Garden
- Kennedy School
- Portland Food Carts (Various Locations)
- Nike Employee Store (Need Pass)
- Vista House
- Multnomah Falls
Located about a 45-minute drive Northeast of Portland. This is one of Portland’s most visited spots for tourists. You can either drive or take a bus from downtown that offers tours. On the way there, you’ll notice a lot of greenery and you’ll be able to see the waterfalls on the way. Consider stopping at the Vista House and taking pictures of the surrounding mountains and rivers.
Upon arrival, there are several smaller waterfalls along the way but you can park at the base of Multnomah Falls. Be sure to get there early in the morning as parking will be hard to find. I was there at 8:00am so any later than that I wouldn’t recommend.
As you enter, you’ll notice a large gift shop and stands that sell coffee and pastries. Go towards the left side of the gift shop and that will lead you immediately to the base of the waterfall. You then have the option of taking the path all the way up to the top of the waterfall as well.
Highly recommended as this is probably my most favorite part of my trip to Oregon. Clean air, great views, and lots of great people around enjoying the scenery.
- Tip for “Mat Surfing” is to always call or contact the school ahead of time to see if you are even allowed to take a drop-in class or come by for an open mat session.
On this trip I was able to visit two Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools.
The first school was Renzo Gracie Academy – Portland at 833 N Shaver St, Portland, OR 97227. (http://renzogracieportland.com/)
This academy is located near lots of well-known restaurants and somewhat closer to a residential neighborhood. You’ll have to find street parking but the school is very easy to locate and they’ll have their academy sign setup outside by the door.
I was only here briefly on a Sunday as the only class was just an open mat session. Since it’s summer, many more people were doing no-gi compared to gi. The mat was packed with people from different academies. I even met a gentleman who trains regularly in Tokyo, Japan who invited me to his school.
The other Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school I was able to visit was Nemesis Jiu Jitsu at 635 NW 16th Ave, Portland, OR 97209. (http://nemesisbjj.com/)
For this school, I messaged them on their Facebook page prior to my trip and was able to get in touch with the owner, Eric Hemphill. He told me to drop by anytime during my stay so I ended up attending the noon class on Monday.
Upon arrival, I had to find parking in the neighborhood behind the school. I was greeted at the door by one of the students, Bill. He directed me to the changing room and then I proceeded to introduce myself to the students who were already there. The mat was mainly filled with purple belts and black belts which was great for learning.
Professor Eric came shortly after and everyone started flow rolling to warm-up. I partnered up with a purple belt named Rick who has been training for 7 years. We had a great conversation as he used to lived in the South Bay of Los Angeles as well.
The class structure was somewhat different from what I was used to but it was very relaxed. There was no formal bow in or warm-up session. Class began with flow rolling, some techniques, and just free training/sparring.
The focus of the class was two-on-one techniques and arm drags variations. Really useful concepts that I was able to bring back to California. The way Eric teaches is very beneficial since he explains everything conceptually rather than just “here’s a technique”.
Overall I had a great experience meeting new people and learning new moves while I was in Portland. Definitely try to visit these two schools while you’re in the area.
Food Carts! Fusion! Coffee! And Vegan!
If you ask someone who’s been to Portland they’ll say the top two things to do is to hike and EAT! Here are a few recommendations of places worth checking out:
- Portland City Grill (Wait for a window table to get a view of the the city)
- Bollywood Theater (Indian Cuisine but be prepared for a long wait)
- Pok Pok (Probably the most well known restaurant known for Thai and Vietnamese food)
- Salt and Straw Ice Cream (Homemade ice cream – to avoid the long line, consider going directly in to buy a pint or go on a weekday morning)
- Blue Star Donuts (Famous donut chain known for their gourmet style donuts)
- VooDoo Donuts (One of the most visited spots in Portland and the line is always long. Unique and fun looking donuts)
- Tasty n Adler (Great place for brunch or dinner)
- Por Que No Taqueria (Small shop that serves great tacos)
- Case Study Coffee (Nice and quiet shop that has both in and outdoor seating)
- Cacao Drinking Chocolate (Specializes in all things chocolate. Definitely try their drinks)
- El Nutri Taco (Vegan taco shop)
- Pine State Biscuit (A few locations in Portland but be sure to try the Deluxe)
- Screen Door (Great Cajun food but be prepared to wait for a table!)
- Deschutes Brewery Portland Pubic House (Famous brewery that serves burgers and beer)
- Lardo (Well known sandwich shop)
- Nong’s Khao Man Gai (Food cart known for their chicken and rice)
- Pitch Dark Chocolate (Owned by two brothers who make their dark chocolate from scratch)
Definitely check out the food carts around town as this is something unique Portland has to offer. Think of the food truck trend but stationary on a lot with picnic tables setup all around.
I really enjoyed how clean and new the roads are. The variety of food here was great since it allowed me to try many things all within a small area. Being a big fan of nature and the outdoors, I really appreciated all the hikes available along with the many parks and gardens in Portland.
Portland, Oregon – July 2016
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