I’m not exactly sure when my priorities changed but over the course of our travels Shaun and I have become increasingly concerned with keeping up our standards for sustainable tourism and eco-friendly properties and locations. When we received an invitation to head to Portland with Hostelling International USA to experience Hawthorne Portland Hostel’s 10th Annual Bike In Movie, it made complete sense. Not only is Portland Austin’s ‘weird’ sister city, but they are considered the most environmentally conscious city in the USA. That is a big statement there. So needless to say we were a little excited to head there… who am I kidding – I was like a giddy ADD child on Christmas Eve.
It may come as a surprise to many of you, but I was a pedicabber (bike rickshaw person) here in Austin for 6 months (hey now, it counts) back in 2010 when I quit my job at Blizzard Entertainment. Bike culture holds a special place in my heart and what these guys are doing is really forward thinking as the popularity of biking as a mode of transportation continues to rise throughout the States. Portland alone has 10% of the population using bikes! This hostel provides bike rentals, racks, a bike repair room, and gives discounts to touring cyclists who find themselves in the area. Combined with my love for the hostel community and experience (even if I really only do private rooms now), biking, green initiatives, a great location on the bohemian side of town (yes, it gets more bohemian), a special place is formed.
So we found ourselves at the 10th Annual Bike In Movie on a perfect end-of-summer night. I mean, they really had me at music, free food, and free BEER. The beer culture had already shown itself to be phenomenal so it was a no brainer. 65 degrees, a long summer evening with good company, great music, and burgers on the grill sums up my summer zen mode. With copious amounts of food piled high on my plate (they even had tofu dogs!), we sat down to enjoy the old-school throwback band, Hot Club of Hawthorne. This year they were previewing the biking documentary “Riding North” about a couple of friends of all skill levels biking an ungodly number of miles across Canada. Great conversation followed with our fellow hostel-mates and it reminded me of why I still love hostels so much. A cheaper alternative to hotels, you get an instant community and friends.
Our last morning we got the ultimate moment in hostel lotteries. A chef from Atlanta had been making his way around the States and prepared an over the top breakfast of champions. While I was ready to devour the free pancakes on hand, quinoa, collard greens, spicy shrimp, and beans were placed in front of me. I damn near drooled all over myself. I shoveled the food into my mouth, relishing every bite. Yup, no hotel could ever have this experience.
Our trip to Portland ended too quickly. Lunch with old friends, a trip to the Japanese Garden, a quick jaunt to Voodoo Doughnut – 2 days was just not enough for us. As I yawned and opened my eyes to the golden morning light illuminating the eco-roof covered in native plants and entering my private room, I smiled. Austin is definitely weirder, but Portland miles ahead in eco-friendliness.
Disclosure: We were guests of Hostelling International however all opinions are our own.