How to Find Cheap Airfare to Portland

With airline consolidation, and what few airlines are left flying routes less often, planes are full and airfare is sky high.  It is getting harder and harder to find good deals but they are out there and can still be found.  You just have to know where to look.  Today, I thought I would highlight some of my favorite tips.

Email Alerts and Twitter

1. Twitter

I love Twitter, it is a great source of information.  There are a couple of twitter accounts that tweet out deals on airfare and they are worth following.  Here is who you should follow.

Me (of course):  I will tweet Portland / PDX specific airfare deals.

The Flight Deal:  The flight deal is a blog that tweets airfare deals.  This is a great account to follow for anyone interested in travel and looking for great deals on airfare.

Airfarewatchdog:  Same idea as the Flight Deal.  Airfarewatchdog will tweet out great airfare deals.

2. Email Alerts

One of my favorite airfare notification services services is www.airfarewatchdog.com‘s email notifications.  You can sign up with airfarewatchdog to email you about any airfare deals to a specific city, from a specific city, or between city pairs.

Kayak can also be set up to email you when the price drops on specific routes that you are interested in.

Another website that I like is Yapta.  Yapta can be set up to follow a specific airline route and email you when the airfare drops.  Yapta can also be handy after you purchase airfare.  You may or may not know that some airlines have a guarantee policy and will refund you money if the airfare drops.  Yapta, is a great tool to keep track of this and get some money back after you have purchased airfare.

Searching for Airfare

My favorite search engine is ITA.  ITA is the software that many online travel agencies use to generate their search results.  Online travel agencies will sometimes filter their results so I like to use ITA directly and cut out the middle man.  The downside is you cannot book directly with ITA, you will need to go to the airline website to book.  It is a very powerful search engine that allows you to do a lot (which is another post entirely).

Google Flights, is another fun tool.  If you are flexible I like using their map function.  The map will show you airfare between city pairs on a map.  Pretty cool if you are flexible and just want to fly somewhere with a great deal.

PDX Airfare Deals

Tricks

Throwaway ticketing can be a nifty way to save money on airfare and worth checking out, if it is within your comfort level.  Read this article to learn about throwaway ticketing.

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What Are The Best Hotels In Portland?

Wondering what hotel to stay at in Portland?  The best hotel depends on your needs.  Are you on a business trip and need to be downtown? Do you prefer luxury properties? Do you need to be by the airport? Or are you looking for good family options?  Portland does not have huge hotel inventory but there is enough variety to meet most needs.  Plus in this list, I may cheat a little bit and add in a B&B or two.

Best Budget Hotels

When it comes to budget options you are going to trade price for something, be it convenience, a private bathroom, or no amenities.  When I think budget I think clean bed. Give me that, I’m happy.  For budget lodgings, I’m a big fan of avoiding hotels and if I have to do a hotel I’m usually going to Priceline it.

Priceline your hotel

Everett Street Guesthouse

Portland International Guesthouse

Crystal Hotel

Best Family Hotels

When I think family friendly hotel I usually think free breakfast, a pool, some sort of extra entertainment space.  Bonus points if the room has a kitchen and place for mom and dad to hide if kids are still young enough to be napping (like mine).

Residence Inn Pearl

Embassy Suites Downtown

Staybridge Suites Portland Airport

Embassy Suites Portland Airport

Residence Inn Portland Airport

Best Luxury Hotels

Portland only has one 5 star hotel and it is one of the best hotels in Portland.  So if you define luxury as a 5 star hotel then The Nines is it.  However, here are some other 4 star options as well.

The Nines

Hotel  Monaco

Riverplace

The Heathman

Best Non-Downtown Hotels

Most of Portland’s better hotels are downtown.  Which is unfortunate, I think the best of Portland is outside of downtown.  Staying in a residential neighborhood is a great way to get a feel for living in Portland.

Inn at Northrup Station

Kennedy School

Caravan – Tiny House Hotel

The Portland Mayor’s Mansion

Silver Cloud Inn

Best Downtown Hotels

Aside from the luxury hotels mentioned above these are going to be the hotels that are within most peoples price ranges and are good options for business travelers.  The hotels downtown are by no means cheap, most will run around $200+ per night.

Hotel Modera

The Paramount

Courtyard Downtown

Hotel DeLuxe

Best Airport Hotels

If you are looking for good budget options there are some very good hotels out by the airport.  If you are staying at a hotel by PDX I recommend renting a car.  It will make life easier and the MAX at night to PDX is a bit sketchy.  I especially like the hotels by Cascade Station which are within walking distance to stores and restaurants.

Hyatt Place

aloft

Residence Inn Cascade Station

Staybridge Suites Portland Airport

What are your favorite Portland hotels?

 

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A Mostly Pictures Trip Report: Part II Brussels and Paris

Part I: Bruges

After spending two days in Bruges it was time to head to Brussels for a day.  We arrived in Brussels around lunch time, dropped our bags off at the hotel, had a quick bite (while walking to Grand Place), and started exploring the city.

The first stop on any tour of Brussels, must begin at the Grand Place.  One of Europe’s iconic public squares.

Grand Place

Grand Place City Hall

After hanging out in the Grand Place, people watching and having a beer, it was on to the Manneken Pis.

Manneken Pis

This little guy is tucked away by some shops and restaurants a few blocks from the Grand Place.  He was dressed up as a Red Devil because the Belgium national team was playing in the World Cup.

Brussels is split between upper town and lower town.  The upper town is about 200 feet higher in elevation and as you can imagine that’s where the aristocrats settled in back in the day.  Upper Town is home to the Royal Palace, Palace of Justice, Place Royale, and a handful of museums.

The Royal Palace used to be home to the king and queen, but is now mostly an office building for the royal family.

Royal Palace

The Place Royale is a square near the Royal Palace.  The dude on the hose in the middle of the square is Godfrey de Bouillon, who led the first crusade.

DSC_0494

The statue of Godfrey is facing this view.  A park and the spire of City Hall off in the distance.

DSC_0489

We continued walking around upper town and stumbled into a farmer’s market, with a guy selling something that I have always wanted to try.  Jamon.

Jamon

By way of a little background.  Spain is on my to do list.  Aside from spending time in the Madrid airport I have not been to Spain.  I also love to eat pork. Jamon is cured pig’s leg from Spain.  It looked amazing and after getting a taste from the vendor I had to buy a few slices.

Slice of Jamon

Being the cheapskate that I am, I was hesitant but I had to get it.  Six slices put me back 18 euro ($25).   We got some cheese to go with it and it made a nice picnic lunch.  I don’t even know how to describe the taste, it was almost buttery in flavor.  It was fantastic. Spain just went higher on my to do list.

After dinner that night, mussels of course, we went to King Baudoin Stadium to watch Belgium play South Korea in the World Cup.  The crowd was lively and fun to watch.

World Cup Viewing Brussels

The next day we were off to Paris for 4 days.  I can’t believe how much sight seeing we jammed into 4 days.  A piece of advice for anyone visiting Paris.  Get the museum pass.  It covers almost every major sight and lets you skip the ticket buying lines.  Very handy for places like the Louvre and Versailles.

One our first day we hit up Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle Church, Paris Archaeological Crypt, and the Louvre.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame Side View

I love this side view.  Notre Dame’s architecture is stunning.  A nearby church with less stunning exterior architecture is Sainte Chapelle, but inside is a chapel filled with stain glass.

Stain Glass Sainte Chapelle

After touring Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle and other sites on Ile de la Cite it was off to the Louvre.  I heard that the museum is less crowded in the evenings so we went to the museum around 5:00.  There was not much of a line to get it but it was still crowded.  I can’t imagine what the place is like during peak hours.

Louvre

Venus de Milo Greek Original

I really like Greek and Roman art.  This is a greek original Venus de Milo, it’s only 2000 years old.

Michelangelo Dying Slave

Michelangelo’s Dying Slave

Michelangelo Rebellious Slave

Michelangelo’s Rebellious Slave

We of course, also saw the Mona Lisa.  Let me say this about the Mona Lisa.  While it is a great piece of art, the crowds are ridiculous.  I think most are there just to say they’ve seen it, take a picture and move on.  I spent a good amount of time just sitting back and watching the crowd.

Mona Lisa Crowd

Our second day was spent out at Versailles.  Versailles was built by King Louis XIV who fancied himself as a new age Roman Emperor.

Versailles King Louis IV Versailles Hall of Mirrors Versailles Crowd Versailles Garden

Words cannot really describe how grandiose the palace and its grounds are.  Seeing Versailles first hand certainly puts the French Revolution in perspective.

The next day we visited the Arc de Triomphe, Orsay Museum, and the Rodin Museum.

View Arc de Triomphe

View from Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

Musee D'Orsay

The Orsay museum is a converted train station, that I think is a really great museum.  It shows the transition from classical art of the late 18th century to realism and impressionism.  Sorry I don’t have pictures of the art, picture taking was not allowed.

Next stop was the Rodin Museum, perhaps the greatest sculptor since Michelangelo.

Rodin Thinker Rodin

Once we were finished touring the museums we had dinner and then walked back to our hotel.  Walking made us a little hungry so we stopped at a crepe stand for a sugar and butter crepe.

Crepe Stand

It was delicious.

On our last full day we climbed the Eiffel Tower, toured Napoleon’s Tomb, and souvenir shopped.

Eiffel Tower Eiffel Tower View

Napoleon's Tomb

At 7 days and 8 nights, this was a very short trip.  I would have preferred doing this over 10 or 12 days, but you make due with what you got.  We crammed in a lot of sightseeing, ate some wonderful food, and had a great time doing it.  I look forward to returning.

Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging.  Next week I will actually write something about Portland.

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