Meet Lauren! The newest member of our hostel family.
Hi there! I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, lived in Huntsville, Alabama for five years, and most recently was in Chicago for two years before coming to Oregon. Milwaukee is not that different from Portland in a lot of ways. Of course we have a lake instead of a river to orient ourselves in the city, and a severe lack of mountains – but both MKE and PDX have a little over half a million people, lots of quirky little cafes and shops, plenty of outdoor spaces and activities, and masses of underpaid service workers, young artists, travelers, students, and the requisite condo-dwelling yupsters. So naturally, I felt at home here from the first day.
I traveled to the Pacific NW on a solo journey last August, visiting some old friends in Seattle, then on to Portland, Mt. Hood, Crater Lake, and a good bit of the Oregon coast. I fell in love with the landscape, met a handsome fella in Portland, and in October I decided to leave the midwest once and for all. I have never regretted it for a second, except to lament that ordering takeout isn’t a thing in Portland!
Lauren’s first major travel experience:
The first time I traveled on my own, I went on a class trip to France for two weeks when I was 16. I didn’t have any friends on the trip and with an odd number of students traveling, I ended up without a roommate for the whole trip – awesome for an introvert like myself! We spent most of the first week in Paris, which was overwhelming and amazing. I had never been in a city that large, much less where I barely spoke the language. I spent a lot of time just wandering by myself and admiring the scenery. I love that you can feel so many centuries of history as you walk the streets there.
We also traveled to various castles and chateaus around France, all very old and très belle, and to the countryside of Provence. The delicious wine, hearty food, and huge fields of lavender in Provence won me over and I plan to travel there again when time allows.
The single most breathtaking place I’ve been to is the redwood forests of northern California – I went there for a special 30th birthday trip and it felt like being on another planet! (OK, I was on Endor, yeah.) I highly recommend a trip there if you can manage it.
Lauren’s favorite spots in Portland:
For Portland-worthy weirdness, try the Pied Cow at SE Belmont and 32nd Ave. It’s in an old Victorian house painted olive green, easy to walk past. They are known for their ridiculous dessert creations, goth-horror-kitsch theme, and huge, shady patio. They offer local beers, espresso drinks, and hookah rentals, so it’s a great place to escape the summer heat and sit with a friend.
Lompoc brewing’s Hedge House at 34th and Division, aptly named for a large manicured hedge surrounding the place. Go on a Tuesday, when they have $2.50 pints – I highly recommend the Proletariat Red.
If you’d like to stay closer to downtown, the East Burn at SE 18th Ave and Burnside also has $2.50 pints on Tuesdays, and awesome food that I would describe as up-scaled pub grub
On Sundays my go-to is the Standard at the corner of NE 22nd and Burnside for $2 pints. (See a theme here? Call me budget-conscious.) They have old pinball and video games, pool, and a nice patio that stays open even in chilly, rainy weather with a canvas roof and portable heaters.
If you are into sushi, I’d recommend trying Ichiban at NW Broadway & Couch. It’s a sushi-go-round with a real electric toy train that brings the plates by, and you can also make orders with the chef. On Wednesdays and Saturdays they have sushi specials. They play 80’s alternative & new wave and the service is great – you won’t be disappointed.
Why she likes working at the hostel:
It’s fun meeting people from all over the world and getting their perspective on things in Portland as well as the U.S. at large. For example, a 20-something guy from Israel was intrigued by the ginger ale soda that we sell because he’d never heard of ginger in a drink before. I love finding out about those little things that seem totally normal and run-of-the-mill to me but that are weird or exciting to people from other places.