I'm glad I stayed for the last Thursday of the month. Each last Thursday of the summer, Alberta Street in Portland puts on a street festival that is part open streets fest, part explosion of homemade crafts fair and part busker fest. There was "invisible ice cream" being sold for $1 with a cone, home massages, some people gathering a capoeira-sized crowd to bet they could jump over four kids, adopt-a-gnome painting, vaudeville bus troop playing with devil sticks and many, many drum routines.
Now I know why there's a book making fun of the weird things Portland does that says that drivers seem to come to a halt and are too nice. At first, as a pedestrian, I was annoyed that there weren't any 4-way stop signs and how could you ever cross to the other side if there's constant traffic and no stop lights, either? Then as the days went on, I learned to cross using the zebra markings. Instead of a stop sign, cars had to look out for these markings and to look for pedestrians and would, most often than not, stop for the pedestrian. No need for those overhead blinking lights, no stop sign or lights needed. An example of this was when I was waiting at a temporary bus stop (because of the Last Thursdays on Alberta thing) that was stationed next to these zebra markings. Even though I was quite away from the curb, not looking out to the street, and was just there, 75% of cars stopped to see if I was crossing. This would never happen in so many other places! This is what I call pedestrian-friendly...cars can still exist, they just have to not be so menacing as in like other places where many times they literally don't see you.
My time is coming to an end here in Portland. I'm going and finally sleeping in my own bed again! Many other cities have quirky bars and good baristas and arts festivals. What will stick with me after I leave (oh, I also went to Cannon Beach, which was amazing), is the way that they pronounce Couch St being "Kootch", and the many bridges, all of them different styles, crossing the Willamette River. I think there's 12 bridges. Makes for iconic commuting journeys were I to live here one day. Which I am glad to say that I do not.