1.29.2015

The 10 Prettiest Sights in Portland

Man, Portland is pretty. A serene river, set against the mountains, with several bridges and tons of trees--my eyes feasted upon its beauty! Here are my 10 picks for the prettiest things in Portland (this is a very Ashley list).

1. The Chinese Gardens

Located downtown, this is a tranquil getaway from the city where you can have a spot of tea and marvel at the well put-together gardens. Not a huge attraction, but still a beautiful one. I have a suspicion this would be the best to visit in spring.

2. Views of the City Across the River

I really liked all the bridges in PDX, it made for good photo ops! This photo was taken at the OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry).

3. Nob Hill



Beautiful part of town complete with unique restaurants, shops, and thrift stores. Great place for sunday brunch and a stroll on a sunny day.

4. Forest Park 

Forest Park is a conserved section of forest complete with paved out trails for the not-so-hiking inclined. Drop dead gorgeous.

5. Portland at Night

The city is well lit, extremely walkable, and easy to get around. People are out and about and the buses run until pretty late, which brings me to my next point...

6. Public Transportation

Okay, so not all of you would add public transport to a "pretty sites" list, but this is a GORGEOUS site for me. PDX is WELL connected. Buses, trains, and streetcars make every part of the city accessible. Lainey and I took public transport the whole time we were there--no need for a car. It's a BEAUTIFUL THING.

7. Pretty Sounds and Drinks 

Go to Jimmy Mak's (a Jazz Bar), order some French 75s, sit back and relish the moment.

8. That Fog

The locals said they don't always get this near impenetrable fog, but it was there for us nearly every morning. Bewitching, isn't it? Sometimes the fog engulfed entire bridges!

9. A Very Clean and Sleek Downtown

 Clean air, modern buildings, easy grid system of streets makes for one walkable city. My fave.

10. Books Galore

If you are a book lover, you will cry at the site of Powell's Books. I've never seen so many books, aside from libraries. This is definitely a bookstore you'll want to explore.

***

What are some of the prettiest places and things you've seen in Portland? 

1.28.2015

Portland: Blue Star Donuts, the 'Superior' Donut Shop


Hello all! Back from Portland, sifting through my photos, and thought I'd share an easy piece of advice before diving into heavy travel posts.

So, before I went to Portland, most everyone told me to go to Voodoo donuts. Obviously, Voodoo has quite the following with it's creative, quirky ideas. However, when I got into Portland, all the locals steered me in another direction. "Voodoo is a tourist trap," they said. "If you want a really excellent donut, go to Blue Star."

The dude at the counter told us, "We don't rag on Voodoo too much because their shitty donuts bring us business." Cheeky.

Now, I can't compare the two, since I never went to Voodoo, but I can tell you this:



The buttermilk old fashion donut from Blue Star is the best donut I have ever had in my entire life. Simple in its execution, divine in its delivery of taste. It is perfect.

There are other options, of course (I also got the green tea).


But WHATEVER YOU DO, GET THE BUTTERMILK. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, GET THE BUTTERMILK!!!!


Okay, I'm calming down now. Here's the site for Blue Star, check em out!


More Portland posts will be filling this space soon!


1.21.2015

A Three-Sentence Movie Review

1. American Sniper
























A must watch: heartbreaking, gripping, and poignant. It made me feel like a spoiled brat for not thinking enough about all the poor young souls who have had to actually fight in war, no matter the side. This is not a "pro war," movie; on the contrary, it's about how humans can barely comprehend the atrocities seen in battle, prompting a good discussion about PTSD.  


2. Rocket
On Netflix




































A story about keeping a winning spirit when everyone (really) doubts you. Set in Laos, the main character is thought to be bad luck for the village, and is even shunned by his own grandmother. When a rocket competition provides a chance for redemption for the boy, the result is spectacular (and made me cry).


3. Copenhagen 

On Netflix















Unlikeable protagonist who grows on you when you find out his backstory (I like when movies dothat). The story is decent, but the scenes of Copenhagen are SPECTACULAR. For that alone, you should watch this on day where you're just craving European scenery (oh, only me?). 


4. L'Auberge Espagnole 


On Netflix
























First movie in a series of three that I intend to watch. Some parts of the movie are profound and provide excellent commentary on what it's like to be an expat, other parts of the film are a little Euro-trashy and lose a bit of focus. While Xavier (the main character) can be self-centred at times, overall you'll like this "Spanish Hostel."   



Photo creds: 1/2/3/4

1.19.2015

Why Wanderlust is 'Holding Onto Childhood'

The (grainy) picture above is 7-year-old me with my cousin Bertan, circa 1992 in Turkey. This is my first memory of going to Turkey/an international trip, and the first time I fell in love with travel. Here was a country (that my mom was born in) completely different from my own, but equally as awesome. I was fascinated in the differences between Turkey and the USA, and I still carry that fascination with each new place I go.

Most people are pretty supportive of me being a major traveler, but every now and again I run across someone who has a major disdain for it. Sometimes I get the cliche "Maybe you're a bit lost," or "Can't you be satisfied with staying in one place?" The most annoying question I've been asked is: "Are you just trying to hold onto adolescence/childhood?"

My answer to this is...well yeah, kinda.

Let me explain.

Many of us have become quite curmudgeon in our "old age." I'm 29, by the way, and you'd be surprised at how many of my peers say "UGHHHH. I'm going to be 30! I'm soooooo old." Wait really? Because I think if you said that exact proclamation to a 70 year old, you'd get laughed at. But we've been trained to believe the lie, haven't we? I digress...

In a sense traveling is "holding onto childhood." It's holding onto that sense of wonder children see the world with, daily. How invigorating, how enthralling to hold onto to those things that give us a passion for life!

I won't lie--it's addictive. Stepping off the plane into a foreign airport, with BIENVENUE or CIAO or  HOSGELDINIZ gets me every time right in the pit of my stomach. I love the feeling of whizzing through the border agents and being there--that space between the exit of the airport and the first sidewalk greeting you into a new country. This is my zone. In this space, I am welcomed by all possibilities:



  • Learning tidbits of a new language. 
  • Gawking at beautiful buildings.
  • Learning new transit systems (wait, there are places where you don't need a car??)
  • Keeping an open mind whilst becoming engrossed in a new culture. 
  • Learning the traditions of the land. 
  • Trying new foods/drinks. 
  • Discussing politics/how Americans are viewed. 
  • Hearing what locals have to say about how our news is reported vs. how their news is reported. 
  • Learning about other religions. 
  • Meeting people that have grown up outside of my cultural bubble, thus understanding different mindsets (a precursor for true peace between nations). 
Suddenly, you come to understand that having the mind of a child actually makes you more mature, grown-up, and open-minded. From travel comes wisdom. 

Sure, sometimes I "lust" after travel. Sometimes it can be a dangerous game of always leaving, never learning to be a happy with settling; but don't we all partake in that game in different ways? There are people that jump from lover to lover, or hobby to hobby...always moving, not ready to settle. The ultimate point is that settling cannot be forced upon anyone. Whether you are choosing to "settle in one place," or "settle down," it must ultimately be your choice to do so. If you want to travel the world for 50 years, DO IT! If you don't want to get married, don't! If you want to have 8 kids, have them! DO WHAT'S RIGHT FOR YOU, IT'S YOUR LIFE. 

Will you walk the path that's right for you, despite what others say?

So to the person who asked (with an attitude): "Are you just trying to hold onto adolescence/childhood by wanderlusting?" 

YES. I'm 29, I love to travel, I don't need to settle yet, AND I AM HAPPY. If that's hard to understand, I would suggest a little traveling to challenge that deeply engrained mindset of yours.

And with that, I'm off to Portland this week! 



1.15.2015

Favorite Thing Thursday

These are a few of my favorite things...

1. My Planned Trip to Portland, OR
via
That's riiiiiiight! In a little over a week, I'm off to the Pacific Northwest, which will also mean that I will have visited every state on the West Coast (uhhhh...not a hard accomplishment). Let's see how "weird" Portland is, and if it's weirder than Austin (basically can't wait to compare the two in weirdness). It's my first bit of traveling in the New Year; me thinks it will be a good one.


2. This Dance Video


I love kids.

3. This Shampoo
I Love Juicy by LUSH is fantastic for taking away all the oil and grease in your hair (added bonus: it smells good enough to eat). Most of you know about LUSH using all natural ingredients (this one has pineapple and kiwi, to name a few), so I won't go on spiel about that. I only use this shampoo once a week as it can be a bit drying otherwise.

1.12.2015

Gilmore Girls, A Review

Gilmore Girls

Confession: I watched Gilmore Girls religiously when I was in high school, and then sort of stopped watching my first two years of college (I was BUSY). So, when I saw that it was on Netflix, I knew it was time for a Gilmore Girls-a-thon! (Yes, readers, there will be spoilers in this review).

I forgot how good Gilmore Girls is, and also good at three particular things: relationships, relatability, and dialogue. GG is brilliant at showing the ladies build, nurture, and sometimes end relationships that leave you with all the emotions the ladies are feeling. I rooted for Dean (POOR DEAN!), I sort of hated Jesse (until he grew up), Paris may have been my favorite character, I liked both Luke and Christopher, I really had a thing for Logan (I get why she turned down the proposal, but noooooo!)...and I felt like I was in it. It totally didn't help that Rory was about the same age as I was, making it uber relatable to me!

Battle of the Boys

Beyond that, the show was relatable because it captured every day life so well. Going to the market, stopping by the diner, chatting with the townspeople--these are all seemingly trivial things that strengthened the bond of the town, and again, helped us understand the relationships so well.

Lastly, how can I bring up GG and not talk about the quick-witted, fast-talking dialogue the show was  known for. It was great watching this series again as an adult, because I picked up on way more jokes and allusions to historical and literary figures. GG is funny, and if you don't listen closely, you might miss something. Some of the best quotes included:

Lorelei: Give me a burger, onion rings, and a list of people who killed their parents and got away with it. I need some heroes.

***

Rory: Do something to make me hate you!
Lorelei: Um, go Hitler?

***
Paris: Maybe I shouldn't go. I mean, what if I fall for him and he doesn't like me? 
Rory: Then you'll find someone else. 
Paris: But what if there is no one else? 
Rory: Then you'll buy some cats.

***
From the last episode, where Rory is going to leave for an indefinite amount of time: 

Lorelei: Get a window seat, honey, cause there's so much to see.

^
^
Cue Ashley crying like a baby. Because the very best thing about Gilmore Girls? The rock solid, iron-clad, ride-till-we-die relationship between Rory and Lorelei. Because it makes me want to strive for that bond with my own parents, my future children, and all humans. Only a true work of art can make us strive for such a noble cause. I'll drink a cup of coffee to that. 





Other TV Show Reviews:

1.08.2015

A Three-Sentence Movie Review

Unbroken

Good, but it needed a little more lightheartedness in a script very heavy with sadness and intensity. Still, Unbroken is a testament to human determination and spirit. Worth seeing, but make sure you're not in a sad mood going into it.








Happy

On Netflix Instant
Solid documentary showcasing positive psychology. A good reminder of how to live life for anyone needing a pick-me-up on a bad day. Watch it.


















Remembrance

On Netflix Instant
I haven't seen a film this beautiful in a very long time. About long lost love due to the war, you'll almost fall apart watching this one unfold. I know the film was justified ending the way it did, but I WANT MOOOOOORE (signs of a great script).

















Into the Woods

The first two-thrids of the movie flows very well; however, the plot gets choppy at the end, despite me liking the overall message. Top-notch singing in this movie-musical. The "Agony" scene makes up for any shortfalls--simply brilliant.









***

Photo creds: 1/2/3/4

1.06.2015

2014: A Decent Traveling Year

Well, you all know I'm a travel freak; thus, I have to recap my year in terms of my travel adventures. There's no way I could ever top my fab year of travel in 2013, but 2014 actually wasn't too shabby in the travel realm! I certainly got to see a little more of the good ol' USA this time around, a trend I hope to continue.

Vegas in January

The year rang in with a freakin' bang in Las Vegas. Not my first time at the strip, but definitely a fun trip. January is the month to go to Las Vegas, in my opinion: not too hot, not too crowded, just a whole lotta fun. And tons of fireworks.

Tijuana in March


I caught a Mexican futbol game on a random Tuesday night trip over the border. For those of you that don't know, San Diego literally sits right on the border...it takes me all of 20 minutes to get to a whole other country. I also really like to advertise Mexico because I feel it unfairly gets bad press painting it as an unsafe, unworthy vacation spot. Pish posh! The Mexican people are a lively, endearing bunch and while Tijuana is not the most beautiful city I've seen, it's a worthy destination brimming full of culture and good food.

England & Scotland in July, August



It was back to ol' Blighty in the summer for graduation and an excursion to Scotland.

First off, London (my love). It was lovely to see my home away from home once again; I'd even call it therapeutic.
Catching up with my "mates" (I always got chastized for saying "friend"), riding the tube, eating sticky toffee pudding, and just being there made me smile from ear to ear. It was the best homecoming I could ask for, since London will always be another home for me. 

I certainly got my fill of London, so of course a side trip to Edinburgh and the rest of Scotland was in order. Man, Scotland is NOT to be skipped, let me tell you! 


Before leaving the U.K., I had one more day trip in the works: lovely Cambridge

 We toured the university by way of punting, totally worth it! 

Austin, Houston, and College Station in October
I went to Texas on a work trip, so it was three cities/towns in one go! It was nice to drive through the Texas countryside, which I found refreshing and beautiful. I also got to meet up with an old friend and a new (blog) friend. Of course, Austin still retained its charm from the last time I visited. 

Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Tucson in November 

 Another work trip. It was all about those desert sunsets and (GORGEOUS) mountains in Arizona. I foolishly didn't know Flagstaff was so elevated and would be so freezing in November. Note to self: do not wear a dress without tights in 35-degree weather. 

New Orleans in December 

As you know, I ended the year in NOLA, which was as lively and eclectic as I hoped it would be (complete with an awesome trip to a southern plantation). 

***

So there you are! I went to about 8 new cities/towns I hadn't been to before, and 6 overall trips. Not too shabby indeed. As you suspected, I've already booked my next trip for this month. I'll reveal soon where I'm off to (wink). 

Travel on, my fellow wanderlusters! 
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