Baby’s first trip – Portland, Oregon

Maybe I started my blog a bit backwards. In my last post, I told you about my trip to Rome with Baby. That trip wasn’t his first, second or even third time on a plane. When it came time to leave for Rome, I already knew a thing or two about traveling with Baby. I thought it would be fun then to look back at the very first time I brought baby on a plane. Back when I was a bright eyed bushy tailed newbie at this traveling with baby gig.

The preparations for the first trip started way before we set foot on the plane, before we even started packing. The first order of business was to find a destination, and the best way of getting us there. My criteria for a destination: a walkable city with lots of parks and beautiful weather, and minimal time change. After consulting many online forums and guidebooks, I set my course to Portland, Oregon. Portland boasts giant parks, interesting neighborhoods, food trucks and farmers markets. If that doesn’t sound family friendly, I don’t know what would.

The plane ride to Portland from the Cayman Islands, where I live, is more than a quick hop over a puddle. It actually involves traversing the width of the United States. What was I thinking? Fortunately, I was able to cobble together a plane ticket with two short stop overs that had us arrive in Portland at 6pm, that is, before the start of baby witching hour.

What I learned about packing and the actual plane ride could easily cover a page on its own so I will save those topics for another day. Suffice it to say, we arrived in Portland in one piece AND in good spirits (the latter was a pleasant surprise).

The taxi from the airport to my hotel in Goose Hollow was a whopping $60 plus tip. One of the most expensive airport to hotel cab rides I’d ever taken. I chose to stay in a one bedroom suite at the Park Lane suites. It wasn’t fancy but I wouldn’t have traded my suite with a full size kitchen for even a palatial non-kitchen equipped hotel room. Having a separate place to cook and have meals while baby napped in the bedroom, somewhere to store bottles of milk as well as a means of reheating said milk was a luxury I don’t suggest any traveling parent go without.

The other bonus of the Park Lane suites: the location! We were literally at the foot of Washington park. It was a steep (very steep) push up the hill with a stroller to the actual park. Good to quickly get rid of a few pounds of baby weight! Washington park is an expansive green space with walking trails, benches, statues, a Rose garden, children’s museum, zoo and a play area (for which my three month old was still too small). There was plenty of space to stroll around without having to worry about cars. I even let baby roll around in the grass while I ¬†cranked out a few yoga poses beside him. We also drove up to Pittock mansion, where we strolled in the flowery gardens and took in a panoramic city view.

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The only disappointment of Washington park were the japanese gardens. They are NOT stroller accessible. A nice man helped me bring my stroller up about 50 steps. Even once inside the park many areas were not stroller friendly.

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Aside from the Park, I pushed baby’s stroller all over Portland. It was so easy (and interesting) to walk around Nob Hill, the Pearl District and downtown. The main attractions are in a small compact area and I never felt unsafe. There were plenty of parkettes where I could sit on a bench and breastfeed baby.

We ended the day visiting the food trucks at a “pod” downtown. I had to walk around twice because I couldn’t make up my mind, between the Mexican, middle eastern, Vietnamese, Indonesian, German temptations, to name just a few.

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Saturdays in Portland are a whole lot of fun and family friendly. I started my Saturday morning with a run along the bike path on the Williamette river. The bike path is wide and on that Saturday morning was teeming with joggers, strollers, cyclists and roller bladers. The run was followed by some walking, first in the huge outdoor market at Tom McCall park and surrounding streets. There were so many interesting and various things for sale, from practical household gadgets to various esoteric crystals and rocks. And food. Again. I settled on a souvenir tshirt.

The farmers market at PSU was next. There was a lot of produce on display and, you guessed it, more food. There were also activities for kids and a big green space to run in. By that time, I had worked up an apetite and bought a vegan falafel wrap from one of the vendors. It was hands down one of the best things I ever ate. I’m actually considering returning to Portland just to taste that again.

Actually, I would return to Portland for a lot more than that. There’s plenty I didn’t get to see in the area, including driving up to Mount Hood. Portland: we will be back.