01iceland-hofn-humarhofnin-restaurant-food-travel

I am a big fan of prawns and lobsters, so of course I would love langoustines! What are langoustines? They are essentially small lobsters but skinnier and lighter in shade. Langoustines were first found off the coast of Norway, the majority of the ones caught today come from the cold waters of the northern Atlantic and the North Sea, particularly off the west coast of Scotland in the Moray Firth and toward Iceland. It's no surprise that Humarhöfnin in Höfn, an Icelandic fishing town in the southeastern part of Iceland, specializes in langoustines. Mark and I had the honor of tasting their new summer menu prior to its launch and wow, what a treat!

For starters, we had Smoked Dried Mutton (from Skaftafell National Park) with feta and basil pesto and Beetroot Gravadlax (a Nordic dish consisting of raw salmon, cured in salt, sugar, and dill) with pickled cauliflowers and rye crumbs. The mutton reminded me of this smoked venison I had in Norway long long time ago so the taste was pleasantly nostalgic. I love how it was paired with fresh greens and ingredients. As for the Gravadlax, the fish tasted light but fresh and the pickled cauliflowers were tasty. The rye crumbs, on the other hand, were good on their own but the pairing seemed a bit off since they were overly crunchy and dry next to the super soft salmon.

Next up... Entrée! We had the infamous Arctic Char (infamous because everyone told me to eat some Arctic Char when I go to Iceland) with Icelandic barley, quinoa, lovage skyr foam, and asparagus. Seriously, every single Arctic Char dish I had in Iceland was sooo fresh! Last but not least, langoustines of course! Whole langoustine and tails with roasted parsnip, pistachio sautéed kale, and curry beurre noisette. I was surprised at how much the curry flavor brought out the sweetness of the langoustine! So so so flavorful!

After having all these delectable dishes paired with white wine, it was rather soothing to enjoy this warm rhubarb compote dessert with hazelnut crumble and citrus skyr. It was so warm and gooey and delicious! Mark loved it so much that he kept looking for something similar the rest of our trip! Thank you Humarhöfnin for welcoming us to your beautiful restaurant and sharing your summer menu with us!

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Humarhöfnin, Höfn, Iceland

May 21, 2019

01iceland-hofn-humarhofnin-restaurant-food-travel

I am a big fan of prawns and lobsters, so of course I would love langoustines! What are langoustines? They are essentially small lobsters but skinnier and lighter in shade. Langoustines were first found off the coast of Norway, the majority of the ones caught today come from the cold waters of the northern Atlantic and the North Sea, particularly off the west coast of Scotland in the Moray Firth and toward Iceland. It's no surprise that Humarhöfnin in Höfn, an Icelandic fishing town in the southeastern part of Iceland, specializes in langoustines. Mark and I had the honor of tasting their new summer menu prior to its launch and wow, what a treat!

For starters, we had Smoked Dried Mutton (from Skaftafell National Park) with feta and basil pesto and Beetroot Gravadlax (a Nordic dish consisting of raw salmon, cured in salt, sugar, and dill) with pickled cauliflowers and rye crumbs. The mutton reminded me of this smoked venison I had in Norway long long time ago so the taste was pleasantly nostalgic. I love how it was paired with fresh greens and ingredients. As for the Gravadlax, the fish tasted light but fresh and the pickled cauliflowers were tasty. The rye crumbs, on the other hand, were good on their own but the pairing seemed a bit off since they were overly crunchy and dry next to the super soft salmon.

Next up... Entrée! We had the infamous Arctic Char (infamous because everyone told me to eat some Arctic Char when I go to Iceland) with Icelandic barley, quinoa, lovage skyr foam, and asparagus. Seriously, every single Arctic Char dish I had in Iceland was sooo fresh! Last but not least, langoustines of course! Whole langoustine and tails with roasted parsnip, pistachio sautéed kale, and curry beurre noisette. I was surprised at how much the curry flavor brought out the sweetness of the langoustine! So so so flavorful!

After having all these delectable dishes paired with white wine, it was rather soothing to enjoy this warm rhubarb compote dessert with hazelnut crumble and citrus skyr. It was so warm and gooey and delicious! Mark loved it so much that he kept looking for something similar the rest of our trip! Thank you Humarhöfnin for welcoming us to your beautiful restaurant and sharing your summer menu with us!

02iceland-hofn-humarhofnin-restaurant-food-wine-travel
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01iceland-reykjavik-radissonblusaga-hotel-travel

We began and ended our Iceland road trip in Reykjavík and stayed at Radisson Blu Saga Hotel both of those nights. After a long day of travel, we arrived at the hotel and took a quick two-hour nap before adventuring out to the Golden Circle. To be honest, we only planned on napping for half an hour but the bed was so fluffy and comfy that we just didn't want to get up. Oops! Radisson Blu Saga Hotel is currently under renovation and the new room is an major upgrade! We stayed in the old wing on our first night which was nice but when we checked into our room in the new wing on the last night, we were like, "Wow"! So modern, yet minimal and sleek. My favorite part? Definitely the rain shower! After a week long road trip, an awesome shower is quite the treat. Another great thing about this hotel is its location. We could easily walk along Lake Tjörnin to downtown Reykjavík, Hallgrímskirkja, and to grab one of those infamous hot dogs from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. Did I also mention that breakfast (so many options) was included in our stay? The lobby also has a nice bar and restaurant along with many lounging areas. Thank you Radisson Blu Saga Hotel for hosting us, we shall be back one day!

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Radisson Blu Saga, Iceland

May 18, 2019

01iceland-reykjavik-radissonblusaga-hotel-travel

We began and ended our Iceland road trip in Reykjavík and stayed at Radisson Blu Saga Hotel both of those nights. After a long day of travel, we arrived at the hotel and took a quick two-hour nap before adventuring out to the Golden Circle. To be honest, we only planned on napping for half an hour but the bed was so fluffy and comfy that we just didn't want to get up. Oops! Radisson Blu Saga Hotel is currently under renovation and the new room is an major upgrade! We stayed in the old wing on our first night which was nice but when we checked into our room in the new wing on the last night, we were like, "Wow"! So modern, yet minimal and sleek. My favorite part? Definitely the rain shower! After a week long road trip, an awesome shower is quite the treat. Another great thing about this hotel is its location. We could easily walk along Lake Tjörnin to downtown Reykjavík, Hallgrímskirkja, and to grab one of those infamous hot dogs from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. Did I also mention that breakfast (so many options) was included in our stay? The lobby also has a nice bar and restaurant along with many lounging areas. Thank you Radisson Blu Saga Hotel for hosting us, we shall be back one day!

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00iceland-katla-icecave-silfra-snorkeling-arcticadventures-travel

I spent nearly three months planning my trip to Iceland, but as soon as I thought I was done planning.... I realized I had forgotten something! Tours! Ok, you're probably thinking jump-on-a-giant-bus-with-50-people type of tour. No, that's not what I am talking about. Although Iceland has so many different terrains and natural attractions that anyone can wander to, some of these activities need to be guided by experts. While whale watching and horseback riding sound fun, I wanted something a little bit more thrilling so I decided on Katla ice cave and snorkeling in Silfra. There are plenty of companies who offer tours in Iceland but I went with Arctic Adventures because they seem the most stress-free, organized, and that the group is very small.

Let's start with the ice cave... I have never been inside an ice cave before, let alone one under Katla, an active volcano. We were already in Vík so we met on location, however if you are in Reykjavík, they also pick up from there. There were only 6 of us and our guide Stefan. We hopped into a Super Jeep and drove through black sand with movie-like landscapes and jaw-dropping sights that a normal car wouldn't be able to get through. I love how Stefan also did some tricks going over crazy dunes and such. About 45 minutes later, we strapped on our crampons and hiked out across the Myrdalsjokull glacier before arriving at the black and white ice cave of Kötlujökull glacier on Mt. Katla. It was sooooo coooooool!!! PS. These photos are NOT black and white photos, they truly look like this in real life!

01iceland-katla-icecave-arcticadventures-travel
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As for Silfra... Snorkeling in Iceland? Unheard of, I thought! However, my excitement grew as I was researching and soon I was completely fascinated with the idea of swimming (well, snorkeling) between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plate. The Silfra fissure, located in the heart of Thingvellir National Park, is one of the world’s most desirable snorkeling spots. From above, it doesn't look like much but through the water, it has perfect visibility (reaching somewhere around 150 meters) of supernatural shades of blue and incredible rock formations. We chose to meet on location for the "Into the Blue - Snorkeling Tour" because we were already exploring the Golden Circle that day. If you want to get picked up from Reykjavík, you can choose the "Snorkeling in Sifra Fissure from Reykjavík" tour instead. Instruction to the meeting point was very clear and simple. After the staff and snorkeling instructor set up all the equipment, we (again, it was just a small group of 6) were given a detailed rundown of everything. Although the water at Silfra is 2°C, I didn't feel cold at all. I was layered up in an insulated jumpsuit and a neoprene dry suit. I also had on a neoprene hood and neoprene wet gloves which protected my head and hands from the cold. We were also provided with fins, mask and snorkel. To be honest, I know how to swim but I am never truly comfortable in water of any kind but the drysuit helped me float and all I had to do was, well, float (and frog-kick with your feet). Snorkeling in Silfra is probably one of the coolest things I have ever done and what a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Did I also mention this is the clearest water on Earth??? Like c'mon, you kind of HAVE to experience this!

12iceland-silfra-snorkeling-arcticadventures-travel
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Thank you Arctic Adventures for sponsoring us and for these incredible experiences that I will never forget!

Iceland: Ice Cave and Snorkeling with Arctic Adventures

May 16, 2019

00iceland-katla-icecave-silfra-snorkeling-arcticadventures-travel

I spent nearly three months planning my trip to Iceland, but as soon as I thought I was done planning.... I realized I had forgotten something! Tours! Ok, you're probably thinking jump-on-a-giant-bus-with-50-people type of tour. No, that's not what I am talking about. Although Iceland has so many different terrains and natural attractions that anyone can wander to, some of these activities need to be guided by experts. While whale watching and horseback riding sound fun, I wanted something a little bit more thrilling so I decided on Katla ice cave and snorkeling in Silfra. There are plenty of companies who offer tours in Iceland but I went with Arctic Adventures because they seem the most stress-free, organized, and that the group is very small.

Let's start with the ice cave... I have never been inside an ice cave before, let alone one under Katla, an active volcano. We were already in Vík so we met on location, however if you are in Reykjavík, they also pick up from there. There were only 6 of us and our guide Stefan. We hopped into a Super Jeep and drove through black sand with movie-like landscapes and jaw-dropping sights that a normal car wouldn't be able to get through. I love how Stefan also did some tricks going over crazy dunes and such. About 45 minutes later, we strapped on our crampons and hiked out across the Myrdalsjokull glacier before arriving at the black and white ice cave of Kötlujökull glacier on Mt. Katla. It was sooooo coooooool!!! PS. These photos are NOT black and white photos, they truly look like this in real life!

01iceland-katla-icecave-arcticadventures-travel
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As for Silfra... Snorkeling in Iceland? Unheard of, I thought! However, my excitement grew as I was researching and soon I was completely fascinated with the idea of swimming (well, snorkeling) between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plate. The Silfra fissure, located in the heart of Thingvellir National Park, is one of the world’s most desirable snorkeling spots. From above, it doesn't look like much but through the water, it has perfect visibility (reaching somewhere around 150 meters) of supernatural shades of blue and incredible rock formations. We chose to meet on location for the "Into the Blue - Snorkeling Tour" because we were already exploring the Golden Circle that day. If you want to get picked up from Reykjavík, you can choose the "Snorkeling in Sifra Fissure from Reykjavík" tour instead. Instruction to the meeting point was very clear and simple. After the staff and snorkeling instructor set up all the equipment, we (again, it was just a small group of 6) were given a detailed rundown of everything. Although the water at Silfra is 2°C, I didn't feel cold at all. I was layered up in an insulated jumpsuit and a neoprene dry suit. I also had on a neoprene hood and neoprene wet gloves which protected my head and hands from the cold. We were also provided with fins, mask and snorkel. To be honest, I know how to swim but I am never truly comfortable in water of any kind but the drysuit helped me float and all I had to do was, well, float (and frog-kick with your feet). Snorkeling in Silfra is probably one of the coolest things I have ever done and what a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Did I also mention this is the clearest water on Earth??? Like c'mon, you kind of HAVE to experience this!

12iceland-silfra-snorkeling-arcticadventures-travel
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Thank you Arctic Adventures for sponsoring us and for these incredible experiences that I will never forget!
01portland-travel-guide-downtown
The Pacific Northwest is like nothing else. Peaceful and magical. Yes, it does rain quite a lot but there's something mystical about the rain up there. Even when we went out hiking and was pouring, we didn't really mind it and thought everything looked so beautiful in the rain! This was my second time visiting Portland and I thought, now that I have a better knowledge of the city and its vicinity, I will share with you the best ways to spend 72 hours in Portland...

Day 1:
We arrived a little after noon on a Friday and picked up an awesome car Volvo had kindly let us drive around for the weekend (I highly recommend renting a car if you are in Portland especially if you plan on heading out to the Columbia River Gorge). After checking into Heathman Hotel (blog post here) which was conveniently located next to the infamous Portland theater sign, we moseyed around downtown for a bit before heading over OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). They had a special Pixar exhibition going on and Mark, who is an awesome animator, wanted to check it out. After that, we went to Coopers Hall (blog post here) for some wine and dinner. We decided to go back to the hotel to rest after dinner knowing that we would have an early start the next day adventuring out to the Columbia River Gorge.

03portland-travel-guide-downtown04portland-travel-guide-museum-OMSI05portland-travel-guide-peaks-coffeeportland-coopershall-winery-taproom-travel-guide

Day 2:
We woke up early on Saturday, walked a few blocks over to Rosa Rosa (blog post here) and had an awesome brunch to get the day started. Then, we drove just 30 minutes from downtown to the gorge area where there were waterfalls after waterfalls. They were all along the same road which made hopping in and out of the car super easy. We began our adventure at Wahkeena Falls. The base of the fall is reachable within minutes, right by the parking lot. However, we hiked upstream quite a bit and was surprised with a beautiful view. It was raining so it was very wet and muddy so waterproof hiking shoes/boots are crucial! Next, we popped over to the infamous Multnomah Falls and yes it was as picturesque as I had imagined. Like Wahkeena, Multnomah requires no hiking. The viewing area is right there across from the parking lot and the walk up to the bridge is easy breezy. Although with the recent fire and weather condition, the trail past the bridge has closed down. Another spot we wanted to check out but didn't get to it was Angel's Rest. The view up there is supposedly amazing but since it was raining and everything was just white there was no point. On the way back we stopped by Never Coffee Lab to grab a cup of coffee (obviously). To be honest, I wanted to go there because the shop looked so cute on Instagram. Little did I know that their signature lattes were the best lattes I have ever had! I had the "Oregon" and oh my! Cascade hops, dulce de leche and sea salt! So good that we bought a bag of beans to bring home (and it's all gone now). After a long day of being wet and cold, we decided to stuff our faces with pho at Lac Luc Vietnamese Kitchen. I actually have been here before and the food was just as good as the first time! After dinner, we headed over to the east side and grabbed a couple of drinks with my friend Tonya at the Doug Fir where we caught up on life and, of course, Game of Thrones.

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07portland-travel-guide-columbiarivergorge-multnomah-falls08portland-travel-guide-columbiarivergorge-multnomah-falls09portland-travel-guide-columbiarivergorge-wahkeena-falls11portland-travel-guide-columbiarivergorge
13portland-travel-guide-columbiarivergorge
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Day 3:
Sunday brunch was our first order of business and we couldn't have gone to a better place than La Moule (blog post here)! Oh man, the food! So so so good! Next... went up north about 20 minutes to see the beautiful St. John's Bridge and Cathedral Park. We walked around the waterfront and the park for a bit until we got cold and wanted to grab some coffee at Peaks. Ok, why are coffees so darn good in Portland??? We walked around that neighborhood, wandered into House of Vintage and found the best leather coat of my life (see it here). After 3 days of exploring, it was time to treat ourselves to some pinsas, not pizzas, at Montesacro Pinseria (blog post here). We ended the night and our Portland getaway with watching Game of Thrones season 8 premier in our hotel room and it was just what we wanted!

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20portland-travel-guide-stjohnsbridge-cathedralpark19portland-travel-guide-stjohnsbridge06portland-lamoule-brunch-food-travel-beignet-coffee03portland-montesacro-pinseria-pinsa-food-travel

Well, there you have it! Portland is fun even if you only have a few days. The food is amazing and everyone is so nice and friendly! I hope this guide gave you some ideas and tips when you travel to Portland!

Travel Guide: 72 Hours in Portland

May 1, 2019

01portland-travel-guide-downtown
The Pacific Northwest is like nothing else. Peaceful and magical. Yes, it does rain quite a lot but there's something mystical about the rain up there. Even when we went out hiking and was pouring, we didn't really mind it and thought everything looked so beautiful in the rain! This was my second time visiting Portland and I thought, now that I have a better knowledge of the city and its vicinity, I will share with you the best ways to spend 72 hours in Portland...

Day 1:
We arrived a little after noon on a Friday and picked up an awesome car Volvo had kindly let us drive around for the weekend (I highly recommend renting a car if you are in Portland especially if you plan on heading out to the Columbia River Gorge). After checking into Heathman Hotel (blog post here) which was conveniently located next to the infamous Portland theater sign, we moseyed around downtown for a bit before heading over OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). They had a special Pixar exhibition going on and Mark, who is an awesome animator, wanted to check it out. After that, we went to Coopers Hall (blog post here) for some wine and dinner. We decided to go back to the hotel to rest after dinner knowing that we would have an early start the next day adventuring out to the Columbia River Gorge.

03portland-travel-guide-downtown04portland-travel-guide-museum-OMSI05portland-travel-guide-peaks-coffeeportland-coopershall-winery-taproom-travel-guide

Day 2:
We woke up early on Saturday, walked a few blocks over to Rosa Rosa (blog post here) and had an awesome brunch to get the day started. Then, we drove just 30 minutes from downtown to the gorge area where there were waterfalls after waterfalls. They were all along the same road which made hopping in and out of the car super easy. We began our adventure at Wahkeena Falls. The base of the fall is reachable within minutes, right by the parking lot. However, we hiked upstream quite a bit and was surprised with a beautiful view. It was raining so it was very wet and muddy so waterproof hiking shoes/boots are crucial! Next, we popped over to the infamous Multnomah Falls and yes it was as picturesque as I had imagined. Like Wahkeena, Multnomah requires no hiking. The viewing area is right there across from the parking lot and the walk up to the bridge is easy breezy. Although with the recent fire and weather condition, the trail past the bridge has closed down. Another spot we wanted to check out but didn't get to it was Angel's Rest. The view up there is supposedly amazing but since it was raining and everything was just white there was no point. On the way back we stopped by Never Coffee Lab to grab a cup of coffee (obviously). To be honest, I wanted to go there because the shop looked so cute on Instagram. Little did I know that their signature lattes were the best lattes I have ever had! I had the "Oregon" and oh my! Cascade hops, dulce de leche and sea salt! So good that we bought a bag of beans to bring home (and it's all gone now). After a long day of being wet and cold, we decided to stuff our faces with pho at Lac Luc Vietnamese Kitchen. I actually have been here before and the food was just as good as the first time! After dinner, we headed over to the east side and grabbed a couple of drinks with my friend Tonya at the Doug Fir where we caught up on life and, of course, Game of Thrones.

06portland-travel-guide-columbiarivergorge
07portland-travel-guide-columbiarivergorge-multnomah-falls08portland-travel-guide-columbiarivergorge-multnomah-falls09portland-travel-guide-columbiarivergorge-wahkeena-falls11portland-travel-guide-columbiarivergorge
13portland-travel-guide-columbiarivergorge
16portland-travel-guide-never-coffee14portland-travel-guide-never-coffee17portland-travel-guide-never-coffeeportland-never-coffee-travel-latte

Day 3:
Sunday brunch was our first order of business and we couldn't have gone to a better place than La Moule (blog post here)! Oh man, the food! So so so good! Next... went up north about 20 minutes to see the beautiful St. John's Bridge and Cathedral Park. We walked around the waterfront and the park for a bit until we got cold and wanted to grab some coffee at Peaks. Ok, why are coffees so darn good in Portland??? We walked around that neighborhood, wandered into House of Vintage and found the best leather coat of my life (see it here). After 3 days of exploring, it was time to treat ourselves to some pinsas, not pizzas, at Montesacro Pinseria (blog post here). We ended the night and our Portland getaway with watching Game of Thrones season 8 premier in our hotel room and it was just what we wanted!

18portland-travel-guide-stjohnsbridge
20portland-travel-guide-stjohnsbridge-cathedralpark19portland-travel-guide-stjohnsbridge06portland-lamoule-brunch-food-travel-beignet-coffee03portland-montesacro-pinseria-pinsa-food-travel

Well, there you have it! Portland is fun even if you only have a few days. The food is amazing and everyone is so nice and friendly! I hope this guide gave you some ideas and tips when you travel to Portland!
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