While I was away on my travels I was fortunate that a combination of unfortunate circumstances (our booking for an organised day trip out to the coast was lost by the tour company) gave us a free day and the opportunity to explore the Alberta Arts district in Portland.
It’s fair to say that it’s not a glossy street: in amongst the wonderful shops there are some that are more on the scary side, and there are some old churches that have perhaps seen better days. But that only makes it a more interesting area to explore.
We were staying at the Kennedy School (I would live there if they’d let me; it’s a brilliant hotel with great food, facilities and atmosphere. And they have a small but very warm soaking pool, which is a great place to spend time in. AND they have a cinema, where we watched Juno while drinking chai, which I think is the very definition of hipster), and so walked down a few blocks to reach Alberta Street. One of the first places of note that we spotted was Townshends tea house. We stopped in for a pot of vanilla tea, and some kind of baked yummyness. They had perhaps 40 different teas, with small samples of each set out so that you can smell each of them and see what takes your fancy.
I had read about Bolt, a fabric store, and was very pleased when we eventually spotted it. They have a great selection of fabrics, books, patterns and all the other goodies you might need to go with them. (I bough a couple of the new Midwest Modern prints by Amy Butler and two belt buckles – green and brown – which I have no plans for yet but were too nice to pass over…) Near to Bolt is Close Knit, a wool shop.
Further down the street we stumbled upon Donna & Toots, a handmade clothing store. I saw some pretty and unusual skirts, and we enjoyed chatting with the owner/designer, who was working away at her sewing machine turning out more products for the shop.
I think the final place we shopped at was a craft store whose name I have sadly mislaid, which was one of those small shops that seem to manage to cram in hundreds of interesting products. Unfortunately the things I liked best were the larger papers, which would have been difficult to transport home safely and so I didn’t bother.
Finally, if you’ve got as far as this, then you’re only a few streets away from Klickitat Street, home of the fictional Ramona Quimby. Visiting this street was a real treat for me: I read and re-read the Ramona books as a child, and basically wanted to be Ramona. The street is more affluent than I had expected (although it must be said that it’s a long street, and I don’t know which part of it the author intended to be Ramona’s home), and looks like a great place to live.