Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
84Trip End Jul 06, 2011
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Where I stayed
Couchsurfed with Moses
My original couchsurfing host for Portland pulled out two days before I arrived!! Something about her Gran coming to visit and what, sleep on the floor I was going to sleep on?? Flakey! Anyway, I emailed another guy called Moses, he instant response was 'sure' and nothing else?? Ahhh I need more than sure. So I emailed again and got another reply 'cool' and some directions to his place! OK, let's see how this goes!
I leave the Greyhound bus station near downtown Portland and walk twenty minutes towards a bus line which drives near Moses house. Of course, like in Mendoza, you need exact change to board a bus, so I had to buy myself an ice cream to break a twenty. Man, I just hate having to buy ice cream!
I jump on the bus and cross Hawthorne bridge, a sublime view either side, then we drive along most of the long avenue of Hawthorne. I leave the bus, walk a few blocks and knock on my couchsurfers door. Moses said he wouldn't be in, but someone would?? Luckily for me, Roma answered the door. Roma is originally Russian, lived in New York for a long time and now finds himself in Portland looking for a job in renewable energy. We chatted for an hour before a former housemate Chas turned up. He comes to the house regularly as Moses hosts many couchsurfers and the place can resemble a hostel than a home. Their record is 11 surfers and 3 room mates........and one bathroom!!!! I chat to Chas for a long time, he tells me there is already an Australian girl staying and maybe a Belgian arriving the same night. Chas is a cool guy, I had a great time chatting to him, finding out more about Portland and life on the West coast in general.
There is a knock at the door and 5 more couchsurfers walk in!! I guess I forgot to mention there were 5 sofas in the lounge and 3 extra beds downstairs in the basement. They only thing missing was lockers! The five that turned up go to Quebec City college and are on a road/Greyhound trip from Chicago to San Francisco. I wasn't expecting five to turn up, so this evening, there will be seven couch surfers and three room mates sharing one home!!
We all introduce ourselves to each other, the new group are all 21 except for one lad who is 20, almost 21, he says that they tend not to look at his birth date when he is carded for buying drink they only check the year, so he gets away with getting into bar, clubs etc.
Then, the Australian girl, Tabatha arrives and the full set of seven is complete. Tabatha is very cool, unknown at the time, but Tabatha had a blood clot in her right hand when she was 23 and lost her hand. Since then, she has travelled the world and is looking for Mr Right. She is now 37 so has been travelling a long time, but due to her misfortune, is paid disability allowance. A very energetic and fun person to be around.
We all head out to a bar in Portland that is having a $2 beer night! Sweet! Chas can drive 4 of us over, we grab a table and begin drinking. Over the night, the other two room mates turn up, I finally meet Moses and I meet dozens of couch surfers! One very funny couch surfer I met was Kate, I tell her about my Boise story and she suggests that we got to a spa and go for a steam naked?? An interesting offer, considering she was extremely drunk!!
The night was fun, I sampled lots of beers and left with Chas, seeing as he was a free ride home, the Quebec group stayed right till closing and paid through the roof for a taxi back to Moses place!
Roma had set me up a bed and I stumble down into the basement and get into an unmade bed and sleep clothed under a random blanket! Typical!
Miles walked: 2.39
Day 142 May 25th - I wake early, find that the bathroom is busy then two minutes later, two of the Quebec people walked out of the bathroom. I guess it saves time showering together! Moses has an awesome shower curtain, it's a map of the world! I was up early to go explore Portland!
I figure I would walk the 2 or 3 miles into the city along the fancy and funky area of Hawthorne Avenue. I managed to find my way to the street, well, after creeping out of the house, with a few still snoring away on the sofas. When I made it to Hawthorne Avenue, the heavens opened and I ran to a rustic coffee shop. I grabbed a tasty mocha and they had free wifi and some free newspapers. The place was packed, it was the middle of the week and no-one works, or they work from the coffee shop?
When the rain stopped, temporarily, I continued walking towards the city centre. I pass by all sorts of weird and wonderful shops, selling antiques, childrens toys, fancy dress costumes, and naked spas!! I also pass a restaurant that is located inside an old bus. Portland is very cool, and people are very open to showing off how different they are and I fully support this. Hawthorne avenue has character and is certainly very unique.
I walk on and decide I want to cross the Hawthorne bridge by foot. The heavens open again, but I have walked too far and I can't pretend I want to buy paint or change my car tyre!! I plod on in the rain and walk onto the bridge. What an amazing experience. I don't know what it is about bridges, maybe my time spent in Newcastle crossing them all the time, but I love viewing a city from its' bridges!
I don't wait around too long as I'm getting soaked. I find another little cafe near the bridge and hide in their for another hour. Slowly drying off.
The rest of my day was spent wandering around the downtown and china town area of Portland. I like to look for unusual aspects of the city and try feel what it is like to live in Portland. I was also conscious of the time, the Quebec group were cooking later and asked me to be back at the house by 6pm.
I grab a bus back to the house and find the door is open and no-one is at home. They have some fancy TV equipment, laptops etc but also the bags of 8 different people. Tabatha had left but two more guys had turned up! Crazy. I sat there and read a book on the table. Chas turned up and showed me how to use the Internet TV, we talked about his upcoming surfers at his own place.
Time ticked on, Gingerman was getting hungry. I was told dinner would be cooked at 7pm but the Quebec group didn't come home till 8pm and then spent 3 hours cooking dinner.
However, dinner was delicious!! It was roasted chicken, with risotto and vegetables. One of the lads from the Quebec group even made a strawberry and cream cake! Amazing! The place was buzzing, there was 13/14 people hanging around, even the next door neighbour came over!
It was a wonderful experience, almost like being back in a hostel. Seeing as I was so hungry, I didn't drink any beers, but I did help wash up for a couple of hours after.
I was one of the last ones to disappear to bed, but made sure I said goodbye to everyone seeing as I was leaving early for Seattle the next morning! I was leaving Portland the night before a large street festival in the city the next day, never mind!
Miles walked 4.5
Day 143 May 26th - Up early, Roma makes an effort to say goodbye to me and I leave for the bus stop. Within 30 minutes I'm sat waiting for my short Greyhound bus journey to a city I've wanted to see for a long time, Seattle.
I wish I could have spent more time in Portland, I found a fun couch to surf on and a great couchsurfing community in Portland. Don't go to Portland and find a hostel or even a hotel, go find Moses, he will put you up!