Friday, August 26, 2016

Day 2, Thursday, August 25, 2016 - Portland

The Comfort Suites has a nice complementary breakfast, as do most of the hotel chains these days. Anna was the only one of us with the dedication to spend 20 minutes working out in the gym before breakfast.

We had heard that the traffic and parking in Portland is difficult and the public transportation is very good  so we decided to delay renting a car and take the train into the downtown area.

The hotel provides a courtesy van which took us to the nearest train station. The trip is normally 35 minutes on the 'red' line but they are currently doing major work on the train lines that required us to take the 'red' train a few stops, then change to the 'blue' line for a few stops, then take a bus shuttle to another station and get another 'red' train to the downtown Pioneer Square. Things are supposed to be back to normal on Sept. 3, after we leave.

There is a nice visitor center at Pioneer Square where we got information on what to see, maps and directions. In the 1960s, as in other cities, the downtown 'blight' was demolished as a part of urban renewal and a multi-story parking garage was built in the center of the city. Around 2000 in the phase of more enlightened urban renewal, the parking garage was demolished and replaced with a very nice public space for events. The day we were there, there was an Italian festival with food vendors, music and other things.

Portland is very much a "foodie" city. We passed an entire city block and then some that was devoted to food trucks (mostly permanent) offering all kinds of ethnic foods. Amy and Anna stopped at a Korean vendor and got kimchi fries that had hot sauce, melted cheese and kimchi on top of french fries.

We went a few blocks up to the famous Powell used and new bookstore. It takes up most of a city block and has 1.5 acres of books. It is very popular and it is nice to see an independent bookstore being so successful. Anna found a book to help with treating depression in her clients.

One of the famous attractions in Portland is Voodoo Donuts which has all sorts of fancy donuts and usually has a long line. The person at the visitor center suggested going at midnight but that didn't work for us. When we stopped by the line was only about 20 minutes and we got an interesting assortment of interesting donuts.

From there we strolled over to a park on the edge of the Willamette River.

One of the "must see" attractions in Portland is the tram/gondola that goes from the river to the top of a mountain - the top end is actually in the OHSU (Oregon Health & Science University) hospital. There is quite a spectacular view of the city below, the river, Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens in the distance. The trains and trolleys are convenient for getting around but the intervals between them seemed quite long - we often waited 20 minutes or so for the next train.

Portland is famous for its micro-breweries - there are supposed to be over 70 in the city. We did our own brewery tour, stopping at the Fat Head, Deschutes and Rogue breweries where we tried at least 15 different types of beer. Some were very good and some we (I) didn't care for too much. We also had bar snacks like fried mushrooms, fried onion rings, homemade chips, etc - a bit too much fried food and we were then too full to have a "real" dinner.

We then reversed our travel to the hotel, again taking 3 trains and the bus shuttle. We were ready to call it a day by 10pm.

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