T and I went on a girls' only road trip to Portland, Oregon this weekend. On a good day it's an easy 3 hour drive along I-5. On Friday afternoon, we hit rush hour in Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia, so it took us 5.5 hours. Sigh.
I've found that since having a kid, vacations are hit or miss. They usually end up being MORE work because the place we're staying isn't set up the way we've got things at home. I don't get to sleep in or lounge around by the pool with a fruity beverage anymore. My friend J calls it "same shit, different place".
So I had low expectations but was still excited. And man, was it ever amazing. It was a dream vacation (except for the traffic). Seriously. We did not have a SINGLE meltdown by either one of us, despite our schedule being all out of whack. We had FUN. T wants to go back already.
A lot of the awesomeness was provided by our fine host city. I worked in Portland for a month or so back in my consulting days, and have been there maybe once or twice since, but we really haven't spent much time exploring the city.
It is a city after my own heart, a cleaner, yummier, friendlier version of Seattle. T and I ate our way through Portland last weekend: Slappy Cakes. Afternoon tea at The Heathman. Old Spaghetti Factory. VooDoo Doughnut.
Every single place was friendly and gracious. No evil eye for bringing a toddler to fancy afternoon tea. Not even from our fellow patrons. Amazing.
No problem showing up at the Old Spaghetti Factory on a Saturday night at 6:45pm without a reservation - we were seated right away, and served promptly.
Not a single issue with T's allergy - soy milk was available everywhere including in the hot chocolate at afternoon tea, VooDoo doughnuts had an incredible selection of vegan donuts, and Slappy Cakes had Earth Balance soy margarine instead of butter. I think I'm in love.
Scratch that, I KNOW I'm in love. People were super nice to us. They gave up their seats on the crowded street car so T and I could sit. This rarely happens on the bus in Seattle.
Some very nice ladies (who happened to be teachers) at the streetcar stop were talking to us and telling me how T is well on her way to reading because she noticed two of them were carrying Whole Foods bags. (Yes, I know, we're raising a yuppie hipster. She also recognizes Target and Starbucks logos...)
Even at the Crafty Wonderland store, the staff was friendly despite T's desire to touch everything and her need to be reminded to "look with your eyes, not with your hands" every 30 seconds.
The high point of our trip was the two round trips we took on the Portland Aerial Tram, which we nicknamed the Vamoosh since it looks just like Pocoyo's spaceship/undersea vehicle. I accidentally paid for her, not knowing kids under 7 are free, so they just let us ride it twice, offered to take a photo of us together, and even gave us both stickers.
I've been a lot of places which *tolerated* kids, but nowhere as kid-friendly as Portland. We'll totally go back.