B.T once mentioned something really interesting. He said that when asked by Singaporeans, where he's from and he replies, The United States.
They ask, Ooh which country? LA or New York?
. Neither. United States is the country. LA is a city, New York is a state. When he further replies that he's from Colorado. There will be blank stares and exclamations ofHuh?
He says it's funny how everyone thinks that if you are from America, you are either from Los Angeles or New York (most actually mean to say New York City but mistake New York to be equivalent to NYC) and if you are lucky, San Francisco and Las Vegas are added into the mix. I laughed but retorted that most people don't know where Singapore is and think that it's in China! One of my friend was asked by an American, when she said that she's from Singapore, West side or East side?
So there. Even Americans don't even know their own cities and states. :P
So the popular cities are usually remembered and it will be the first natural option to choose when you are planning a trip to the States. There are actually a lot of other beautiful cities in the U.S that are often overlooked. For example, Colorado (heh I'm biased), Seattle and Portland.
In all honesty, if I didn't have to travel so frequently to Portland for work, I would probably not think of visiting it. Having made around 10 trips or so to Portland, I do admit that I now have a soft spot for Portland and do love this quiet and under-rated city. As one of my friends from Portland says, Portland is one of the best hidden secrets of the United States.
A quick educational mention about Portland. It is a city in the state of Oregon on the west coast or more specifically, northwestern part of the U.S. Portland is often fondly called the 'rose city' as it is peppered with numerous rose gardens that make it a hot spot to visit during the summer. It's not the capital city of Oregon (Salem is) but it's the most populous.
Portland is considered a green city and the residents are all for recycling and conserving energy. They support cyclists cycling on the roads as a form of commute and most roads have a cycling path. The Portland drivers are one of the most courteous drivers in the U.S. They drive quite slowly and hardly ever honk. Pedestrians are king in Portland and if you are running across a road, even if it's a green light for cars, there's a high chance that the car will stop to let you go.
It is illegal to pump gas on your own as in order to create jobs, they have gas attendants to assist. A large majority of the people living in Portland are either hired by Intel or Nike. I think there was an article that once mentioned that Intel has about 15,000 employees in Hillsborough, Portland, Beaverton, Cornell Oaks (cities close to each other in Oregon). Nike's worldwide headquarters is based in Beaverton, which is a city that is a 20 minute drive away from downtown Portland.
I can go on and on about Portland but that's some quick facts about it.
What's not to love about Portland?
The weather. It's rainy just like Seattle. I believe Seattle has the highest number of suicide rates due to depression from the gloomy weather followed by Portland and trust me, when it's gloomy, it is gloooomy. Grey and rainy and dull. The summers are fantastic but the other three seasons are pretty much unpredictable or rather, predictable with a lot of rain. It's not a place to live in if you are looking for a vibrant night scene like New York City, it's a great place to bring up kids in as it has one of the lowest crime rates in the United States.
What's there to love about Portland?
It's tax free baby! Yes. That means every single item that you shop and pay for, is without tax. Tipping still applies at the usual 15-20% rate depending on where you are eating at, but it's tax free. If you ship anything to Oregon, you won't get slapped on a tax and that's why all my shipping goes to Oregon instead of Colorado :P Portland might not have the best fashion trends but you can get some serious good deals shopping here. The malls include brands like A&F, Gap, Banana Republic, Kate Spade, BCBG, Bebe, Aldo, Nine West etc etc etc. AND, H&M is opening soon (hopefully by year end)!! Whoohoo!
It's a fantastic place for sports lovers. There are so many outdoor activities to engage in. Trail running, running (many many races throughout the year), hiking, white-water rafting (which I just did on my last trip), football, cycling, snowboading/skiing during the winter, rock climbing, dragon boating and more.
It has a lot of good food. Aside from the popular and sometimes overrated Pearl District, if you cross over to the Hawthorne side, you will find many little eateries and cafes which are totally delightful. Think Chapel Street in Melbourne.
So if you are thinking of having a vacation in a quieter and more understated place, try Portland. You can check out my recommendations (food, shopping ecetera), here