If you follow us on Twitter or Instagram you will know we were in Portland (Oregon) last week for a friend’s wedding. As we filled a 16 gig card with food and wedding pictures we are still sorting through them so this is an introductory post about how to over-research a trip with some atmospheric pictures of Portland as background to get you excited.
If you dork around on the internet a lot you will have come across pictures where people empty out their bags and take pictures of the contents (Tumblr example here). This is the internet research equivalent of that; a list of every thing I check before visiting a place. I admit; it is a bit too much… but to travel all that way and go to the wrong place. Ouch.
NY Times travel section – my first stop before I go anywhere is to check out the NY Times. For most cities they have a ’36 hours’ in feature which is better than 99% of guide books and can help orientate you to the area. This is the Portland one.
Wise friends – there are a couple of friends who are ‘up’ on the international food and travel scene that I will always check with; see Supercharz and E_ting. If they have been to a place it makes my life a lot easier.
One of my tricks when travelling is to identify all of the exceptional coffee shops as this has the advantage of meaning you get good coffee and also normally drops you in the more interesting or artistic areas; see FRSHGRND, Tim Wendelboe‘s world coffee map, and the Ristretto column by Oliver Strand in the NY Times.
Then there are all the other wise friends I have on Twitter. This is the start; now it gets obsessive.
Hipster aggregator websites – these aren’t always successful but with destinations like Portland which are packed with over-interneted recommendations they come up triumphant. The stalwarts are Notcot, NotVentures and Tastespotting.
Foodie magazines – if you like food and have an iPad get Saveur. They know their stuff and the app is beautifully optimised. If they have visited where you are going to visit you win. Other good options are Serious Eats and Eater.
Blogs – I prefer blogs these days for realistic reviews of food as you can get a sense of the reviewer and their taste. Unfortunately it still tends to be only big cities like NY, London, Tokyo, HK etc. which have proper and sensible blogs. Rather strangely given the hipster vegan nature of Portland there are no good blogs. None at all.
Yelp/ Urbanspoon/ Chowhound etc. – I am not a major fan of Yelp and Urbanspoon as they are a bit too score based. However, Yelp in the US is so expansive that it inevitably becomes invaluable and the key is the pictures of food rather than the over chirpy reviews. Urbanspoon unfortunately looks like a 1980s hellhole of a website but it does have a lot of reviews / links to bloggers who put the time and effort into uploading their reviews.
Chowhound is a bit too obsessive and people are, for example. more focused on finding a good Ethiopian restaurant in Glasgow (Scotland) than the best of what Glasgow has to offer for a visitor.
Fashion/ style websites – I mainly travel for food and culture but clothing is always needed. Hand made and artisan please. Thus a search of Selectism / A Continuous Lean, Hypebeast can clothe you and, like coffee shops, put you in the right areas.
Everplaces – I was recently introduced to this by Supercharz and although it is another bloody bit of social media to add to the growing list it is the most useful for travelling. You can add everywhere you want to visit via an OpenSource Gmaps interface and this is then cached so you don’t even need an active 3G/4G connection or wifi. It is a godsend.
Here is what I prepared before I went to Portland.
Ok, now to sort through 16 gigs of photos.