Northwest Portland Hostel Blog
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Every fall Vaux’s Swifts, a small bird breed native to North and South America, prepare to migrate to their wintering sites in South and Central America. On their way down south the birds use our neighbor, Chapman Elementary School’s chimney as an evening roost.
Vaux’s Swifts spend almost all of their daylight hours in the air foraging for insects. Shortly after the sunset, thousands of them gather in the sky, forming a dark cloud, and hover above the Chapman’s School like a tornado until they suddenly begin their descent into the chimney.
The “Chapman Swifts” are North America’s largest concentration of Vaux’s Swifts. They have used the school’s chimney on their migration route as a stopover since the 1980s and can be seen every evening from mid-August to mid-October.
This is one of Portland’s most spectacular natural events and every night up to 2000 spectators gather around the Chapman School in Wallace Park. If you like to witness this incredible phenomenon get directions from our front desk staff.
Sunday, August 31, 2014
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.
Aussi, c’est bon que je peut pratiquer mon Français occasionellement. Hope to see you here some day!
Thursday, August 28, 2014
On Tuesday night we closed our sixth Summer Music in the Secret Garden Series with a big bang. Brad Leftwich, one of the nation’s best fiddlers, and his wife Linda Higginbotham, famous for her banjo and ukulele talent, played together as a duo and enriched the Secret Garden with vivid old-time music.
Over the last 10 weeks we have had over 500 people joining us every Tuesday night for sizzling German brats, delicious veggie burgers and ice-cold beverages. After Kerrville New Folk award winner, Beth Wood, kicked off the Summer Music in the Secret Garden 2014 Series very successfully the numbers and the atmosphere kept rising. Our very own MC Andy Goncalves and Portland based singer/songwriter Sue Zalokar listed the record and drew over 70 people into our Secret Garden.
Not only did we invite professional musicians like Sky In The Road, Dan Weber, Anne Weiss or gypsy jazz sextet Gaucho to perform in our garden, as part of Open Mic we witnessed almost 80 talents. From locals to travelers, from the youngest of 5 years to the oldest of 82 years, from karate choreography to poetry slam – everyone was welcome! During Matt Meighan’s music sets we were able to listen to over 15 Open Mic participants, which included many of the Zigzag Song Campers like Kelly Bosworth, Anna Hoone and Avery Hill.
We are really happy how successful every single concert has been and also what great weather we had this season. It has definitely been a great summer with many hot summer nights and we would like to thank everyone who got drenched in sweat in order to make this happen. Our loyal volunteers Michelle, Tom G., Tom W., Abby, Faye, Mike and Mary have supported us at the grill. Dean and Michael have kept us hydrated and the MCs Andy and Paul provided us with an entertaining show. Thank you so much! Without your help this wouldn’t have been possible!
Here’s just a few pictures from this year’s season:
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
This Saturday, August 23rd is HI Hawthorne Hostel’s 11th Annual Bike in Movie event. This year they are featuring the award winning documentary, “True Fans” about an epic cross country bicycle journey of three men traveling to the Basketball Hall of Fame and discovering the ‘real’ America along the way.
If you’ve ever wanted to check out that ‘interesting building on Hawthorne street with the plants on the roof,’ this is the perfect chance!!
The event is FREE and open to all. There will be a FREE BBQ dinner with drink available thanks to some generous donations from their sponsors. They are also excited to announce the local talent of “Train River” an eclectic collection of bluegrass/string-band musicians that will be there for your entertainment.
For more information about the event look here
For more information about HI Hawthorne Hostel check out their website here
Monday, July 28, 2014
Whether mountain biking, cycling, hiking, rafting or surfing, outdoor enthusiasts will have fun in Oregon no matter what! The landscapes of the tenth largest U.S. state are not only beautiful, but also varied: snow capped mountain peaks, lonely, desert-like plateaus in the east and dramatic rugged coastlines and the ocean in the west. Adding to that the mountains of the Cascades, with its unconventional play of colors and shapes, as well as thousands of rivers and lakes dominate the landscape.
Eastern Oregon’s high desert provides many opportunities for adventure-seekers with its Wild West atmosphere. Here you can meet real Cowboys and Native Americans. Furthermore, there is also the Hells Canyon, the deepest gorge in the United States.
From the beaches of the Pacific Ocean, there are breathtaking routes to natural wonders such as Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States, with its incomparable blue color. The untouched nature and the varied landscapes make Oregon one of the most diverse states in the USA.
The eclectic mix of original nature and urban life makes the state of Oregon a destination that is equally suitable for interesting discoveries, adventure and relaxation. Also worth a visit is the green city Portland. The largest city of the state is an insider tip for connoisseurs. It has extensive parks and forests but is easily explored on foot or by bicycle. From Portland, you can also take a day trip to the canyon of the Columbia River, Mount Hood, the coast or the vineyards and historic towns in the Willamette Valley.
With so much beauty to behold, you’d better book a room with us today!
Thursday, July 17, 2014
We’ve been busy improving the hostel this week by installing a brand new information kiosk and activity board by the Front Desk!
Check it out!
Our new information kiosk is a great way to look up directions, local transit information, book a future stay at another HI hostel in the U.S. or browse our website – all with a touch of your finger – and all for FREE!
Our new activities area is in a prime location right by the front desk. Here you can find out about weekly activities happening in the Portland area or events happening here at the hostel. You can also find our hostel activity sign up sheets here too!
If you want to plan your trip in advance, don’t forget that you can access our activities calendars online through our website and Facebook page.
Friday, July 4, 2014
Portland is a city of superlatives that proudly calls itself the “Microbrew Capital of the World.” There are more breweries and pubs in Portland than any other American city – we counted nearly 40! And, it is said, that in the Portland metropolitan area it will take you no more than 10 to 15 minutes to walk to your nearest brew pub or brewery! Is your mouth watering yet!?
“Beervana – a beer lover’s paradise” is Oregon’s second name and there are no better months to enjoy Beervana then during our glorious summer months, when Portland proudly hosts several beer festivals, including the upcoming Puckerfest from July 11-17, the Oregon Brewfest from July 23-27, and the Portland International Beerfest from August 8-10.
Mighty Mike’s Manpower Stout, Cryin’ Coyote Western Ale, Black Rabbit Porter, Mr. Toad’s Wild Red, Oregon Honey Beer and Wheat Berry Brew, are just a few of the imaginative types of beers produced from breweries in Portland. Of course the breweries themselves have to have unique names too, like “Hair of the Dog”, “Lucky Labrador” or “Full Sail.”
In Portland, beer is not just beer and it certainly isn’t the usual American thin standard brew.
For all you beer lovers, come to Portland – it’s worth it!
And stay with us!! The hostel is conveniently located in Northwest Portland close to many breweries and within a few walking minutes from the brewery blocks of the Pearl District. The hostel leads weekly Brew Pub Crawls. Please check our activities board at the front desk for event dates and times.
Monday, June 23, 2014
In one of the latest Simpsons episodes, entitled “You do not live like a referee,” the famous American family travels to Brazil to attend the World Cup and in true Simpsons fashion, Homer Simpson is quickly roped into being a referee in the games and the shenanigans begin.
The most interesting part of the episode to us is the show’s prediction that Brazil and Germany will fight it out this year in the final game of the World Cup. It is yet to be seen what will happen in the real games, but the Simpsons seem to think that Germany will take it all, 2-0. I am sure that many of our hostelers will be pleased with such an outcome, but we’re still rooting for team U-S-A!
The hostel will be leading special activities during the World Cup season. Please check our activities board at the front desk for more information.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Once again it’s time to get weird – for one night only, you can take your clothes off and enjoy a nice bike ride around the city.
Saturday, June 7th, at 8 pm, the World Naked Bike Ride will take place at Normandale Park in NE Portland with the removal of all fabrics and the application of body paint.
The World Naked Bike Ride originated as a protest against society’s dependency on oil and as a way to raise awareness of the dangers cyclists face on the road. The event started in Portland in 2004 with about 100 naked cyclists and rose to 8,000 nude bikers in 2013, a record that the WNBR hopes to break this year.
The official route of the 2014 ride will not be disclosed beforehand, so all attendees must be at Normandale Park before the 9 pm start time.
The will also be an official after party, presented by the Portland Mercury and The 10 Barrel Brewing Company. It will take place at 2410 N. Mississippi Ave with DJs, dancing, food carts, and $3 beer!
Now, here’s a few important things to know about the ride according to the WNBR:
- Wear helmets and shoes!
- Do not ride drunk or bring alcohol!
- Arrive at the location with your bike or by public transportation but not by car!
- Arrive at location wearing clothes especially if you arrive on public transportation!
- Bring a backpack so you can get undressed and store your clothes!
- The use of cameras is not allowed at the starting and ending location!
- Ride carefully!
- Respect others!
- Have some fun!
The hostel will be leading a special activity to celebrate the World Naked Bike Ride. Please check our activities board or ask at the front desk for more information.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
The Portland Rose Festival
One of the Portland’s most famous events is the Rose Festival. It first occurred in 1907 and actually a whole series of events that kick off over Memorial Day weekend. This year’s festivities will take place from May 18 through June 15, 2014.
The festivities will get started on Friday, May 23rd, with a literal BANG in form of fireworks. The fireworks will be choreographed to music provided by 101.9 KINK FM. The Rose Festival fireworks are one of Oregon’s largest and most spectacular firework shows and will take place beginning at nightfall at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
Portland’s waterfront comes alive by the Rose Festival City Fair. There will be rides, live music, local beer and tasty treats, as well as a wide variety of shopping. The fair is open for three full weekends. A part of the City Fair is the RoZone Stage which will host the headliners Capital Cities and Vintage Trouble. Marc Broussard, Vicci Martinez, Valerie June and Scars on 45 will be rocking the stage the upcoming kick off weekend.
Over the next weeks Portland Center Stage will show daily musicals and rock shows like “Lizzie” America’s favorite ax-wielding double-murderess. Also there will be art shows around the city like the 15th Annual Wilsonville Festival of Arts and the Frank Hirahara Photo Collection. The 23rd Annual Canby Wine, Food & Brew Fest.
On May 31st Oregon’s most popular fun run will take place, a race of ridiculously dressed and costumed runners along the 3.1-mile Starlight Parade route. The craziness continues after nightfall when diverse floats and traditional marching bands hit the Starlight Parade. The parade draws more than 250,000 spectators to downtown Portland.
Each year, the Lloyd Center Ice Rink is transformed into a colorful rose garden for the Annual Spring Rose Show, the largest and longest-running rose show in the nation. The port of Portland opens its ships for Fleet Week and the Portland Rose Festival Dragon Boat Race will take place on Willamette River.
The Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade is the second largest all-floral parade in North America and the single-largest spectator event in Oregon. More than 500,000 spectators line the 4.3 mile parade route which begins inside the Memorial Coliseum and continues through Downtown Portland. Bands are judged near the intersection of NE Martin Luther King Boulevard and NE Multnomah Street.
Major Portland Rose Festival Events:
This kick-off event features a lighting ceremony followed by a grand display of fireworks over the Willamette River
(Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park)
Rose Festival City Fair
May 23 – 26, May 29 – June 1, June 5 – 8
Held over most days of the festival, the CityFair offers all the favorite fair activities – live entertainment, carnival rides, food booths, and arts and crafts.
(Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park)
Floats and marching groups decked out in lights of all kinds.
June 4 – 8
View and tour naval vessels from the United States Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and the Canadian Maritime Forces.
(Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park)
Portland Rose Society Annual Spring Rose Show
June 5 – 6
(Lloyd Center Ice Rink)
Rose Cup Races
June 13 – 15
A variety of races and exhibits.
(Portland International Raceway)
Grand Floral Parade
Colorful floats, marching bands, equestrian groups, and more.
(Memorial Coliseum to Downtown Portland)
The Portland Rose Festival has a lot to offer and is fun for everyone! The hostel will be leading special activities during the festival. Please check our activities board at the front desk for more information.