Among some of her more curious abodes, Indie Guides Portland‘s author, Hannah Brown, has lived along a remote peninsula in Washington state and in a wonderfully strange apartment in Prague but she’s currently given her heart and soul to Portland. When she isn’t exploring the city on her bike in search of Portland’s best brunch, you can find her at an apartment, bar, or concert venue listening to everything the local music scene has to offer. To celebrate the launch of Indie Guides Portland, she shares her love for Portland and a few of her favorite spots below.
How does Portland influence your work?
Portland is a design mecca. Pick an outlet – graffiti, digital content, visual performance, live music – and you’ll find a concentration of artists and thinkers who exercise endless creativity. And compassion. As a transplant to Portland, each artist I’ve met, has willingly shared advice, instruction and experience – whether that’s as a jazz musician or a user experience designer. For me, it’s led to a deep-seated appreciation for the city and it’s opportunities that range from new writing to piano lessons.
tell us about one of your guilty pleasures in PORTLAND…
There is a spot in a Southeast Neighborhood called Tub and Tan. For a small fee, you can spend an hour soaking in rooms with hot tubs, and the decor is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. One tub is outside, with a faux venice backdrop, another tub is completely funky, with neon disco lights. Really everything about the place is odd and perfect.
Tell us a funny/unexpected anECDOTE AMUSANTE/INATTENDUE that’s happened to you in PORTLAND…
When I first moved to Portland, it took me awhile to navigate the city without Google Maps or some kind of navigational aid. But one day, when I was feeling pretty confident, I tried to take a new route across the river, not knowing that the bridge I was crossing merged with the freeway. I ended up hopelessly caught biking on the interstate. In a city of bikers, memories of the honking keep me humble.
What do you like the least in Portland?
There can be an animosity towards transplants and new people moving to the city. I think it’s important to collaborate and learn from new artists and explorers who have felt drawn to move to this city. But I get it too.There’s so much to love about Portland, and the old dives and funky haunts are certainly dwindling with new high rise buildings and housing popping up around the city. But that makes the old Portland haunts truly special to encounter.
What would you miss most if you had to leave Portland?
The morning commute. That sounds odd, but each morning I bike over a bridge from east to west Portland, and I fall in love with the city all over again. Whether I’m going towards the downtown lights or headed east catching a glimpse of the mountains, I still get a rush that this is exactly where I want to be.
What is your favorite food and drink in Portland?
This is tough. Seriously. My favorite food would probably be the margarita pizza with cured pork shoulder at Apizza Scholls. It’s worth the wait, every time. My favorite drink is currently the Lady Killer at Richmond Bar. The drink has a perfectly composed trifecta of vodka, ginger beer, and lime, and their sweet back patio is a great spot to savor the city’s buzz. It’s also conveniently close to my house.
What’s your favorite place to go to escape the city, even just for one hour?
Sauvie Island. If you head about ten miles outside Portland’s city center, you’ll find Sauvie – a river island along the Columbia River. The island is a blend of wildlife refuge and farmland, where you can pick fresh fruit each summer, celebrate harvest each fall, and brave the beach (clothing optional) year-round. Everything is lush and whimsical – it’s the perfect place to escape.
What local artist should everyone know about?
This is tough. I’ll pick a few. Divers are great, especially if you love blue collar punk. Y la Bamba is perfect for indie-folk lovers who can’t resist melodically playful tunes. Roselit Bone, self-described as “knife fight music,” is amazing live.
In your opinion, what song best describes the ambiance of Portland?
Light Rail Coyote by Sleater-Kinney. This song embodies every young transplant’s fascination with Portland. The song explores Portland as an escape for “rich and poor pioneers,” where you’ll find a perfect harmony of city and nature, and a tantalizing mecca of diners and strip clubs, bookstores and punk clubs. It highlights the mythical nature of Portland perfectly.
What city do you dream of visiting?
Budapest. I came within two hours of visiting once, but ended up in a highway snow storm for 36 hours. I’d love to explore the city’s central European history and escape to ruin pubs and thermal baths – they seem dreamy.
Discover more alternative and cultural spots in Portland with our city guide Indie Guides Portland.