My friend and fellow Northwesterner-at-heart Leana recently alerted me to an article about Portland published in the Icelandic magazine Stundin. It’s always nice to see the Northwest getting some press in Iceland, and the author certainly got a lot of things right, describing Portland as a charming city and “the hipster’s Mecca.”
This description also rings true:
“Strákarnir sem afgreiða þig hvort sem það er í raftækjaverslun, smá-brugghúsi eða bílaleigu eru með sítt skegg og kassalaga gleraugu.”
“The guys who work in electronics stores, microbreweries, and car rentals all have long beards and square glasses.”
The author touches on the oft-quoted statistic that Portland boasts (?) the highest number of strip clubs per capita of any US city:
“Út um allt eru klámbúllur og strippstaðir sem Portlendingar eru furðustoltir af.”
“There are strip clubs all over the place, a fact of which Portlandians are strangely proud.”
And of course I approve of this shimmering review of Powell’s:
“En helsta perlan downtown er ekki veitingastaður. Innan um smábrugghús og lífrænar búðir (og risavaxna Whole Foods nema hvað) stendur Powell´s city of books, 6.300 fermetra bókabúð með yfir einni og hálfri milljón eintaka af nýjum og notuðum bókum. Með öðrum orðum: Paradís. Portland er svo sjarmerandi að hún gæti næstum verið evrópsk.”
“The greatest downtown treasure is not a restaurant. Among the microbreweries and organic grocery stores stands Powell’s City of Books, a 6300-square meter book store with more than one and a half million new and used books. In other words: Paradise. Portland is so charming that it could almost be European.”
That last sentence is rather a backhanded compliment, but we’ll let it slide.
I find it fascinating that an Icelander of all people is complaining about the strength of Portlandian beer, but perhaps that’s because the dominant drinking culture in Iceland is all about getting drunk, not as much about the palate:
“Portlendingar þykjast vera listamenn en þeir eru fyrst og fremst bjórdrykkjufólk, og það reynir á magann því það er hvergi til venjulegur lager. Bjórarnir eru bragðsterkir og áfengir, og breyta maganum í lítið brauðbakarí.”
“Portlandians fancy themselves artists but they are first and foremost beer drinkers, and that is a bit hard on the stomach because there are hardly any regular lagers available. The beers are strongly flavored and strongly alcoholic, and turn the stomach into a little bakery.”
He also got a few things wrong, by my reckoning, most importantly his conclusion:
“Það eina sem vantar upp á til að gera þetta að vænlegu túristasvæði er eitthvað virkilega stórfenglegt. Það tekur hálfan dag að skoða Multnomah fossa og vilji maður tilbreytingu frá borgarlífinu daginn eftir er eiginlega bara St. Helen fjall eftir. Það er þó hægt að mæla með heimsókn til Portland sem hluta af stærra ferðalagi um Bandaríkin, til dæmis ef leiðin liggur til Seattle.”
“The one thing missing that would make this a promising tourist destination is something truly spectacular. It takes half a day to explore Multnomah Falls, but if you want a break from city life the next day, there’s really only Mt. St. Helens left to explore. I can certainly recommend a visit to Portland as part of a larger trip in the States, for instance if you continue north to Seattle.”
I am not entirely sure what map this guy was using, but I feel like he somehow missed the fact that the Pacific Ocean is less than two hours away from the city. Never mind how much more there is to do within city limits than eat, drink beer, and go to strip clubs. I mean, on my itinerary, Powell’s itself takes up the better part of a full day. With Portland as base camp, one can take a ridiculous number of day trips in any direction. This author commented on how friendly Portlandians are, but he must not have asked them for recommendations, because anyone could have given him a long list of things to do outside the city, starting with that big blue blob on the map, the glorious Pacific Ocean.
(Also, am I the only one who finds it strange that someone who takes time to discuss the strip clubs does not once mention the dirty doughnuts at Voodoo?)
In any case, thanks to Stundin for giving me the little joy of reading about familiar places á íslensku. And next time you’re in Portland, grab a waffle from the Waffle Window or a couple scoops at Salt and Straw on your way to the coast. You’ll thank me later.