TRAVEL THERE: LAST BITES IN PORTLAND OR
Welcome to Oregon! Well, sort of. In June my husband and I spent twelve days traveling the state and now I’m sharing the experience with you. I’ll tell you about the attractions we visited, the meals we ate and where we stayed. Maybe you’ll decide you want to visit Oregon, too. Today’s focus is isn’t really a focus at all, just a summary of our Portland experience.
Memories of Portland
Portland was a bittersweet experience for me. I loved everything I saw, but losing a day to the airlines really messed us up. I also loved arriving for Rose Week, the highlight of Portland’s year, but participating in all the festivities that I hadn’t realized would be going on meant taking attractions off my wish list.
We stayed in the Portland Paramount Hotel and I recommend it strongly. It’s literally in the middle of everything. Out the front door is Director’s Park. A block away is a major transit stop. Pioneer Courthouse Square, Nordstrom’s, South Park Blocks, the art museum, even cheap parking are all just steps away. The lobby is chic without being ostentatious and the rooms are luxurious, if perhaps a bit of a squeeze. Their exercise room has plenty of aerobic equipment and some weights, too. The lobby bar seems to have a steady clientele, but we were always too busy to linger. The restaurant is Asian and that’s not our favorite food. They’re supposed to have American breakfast, but we didn’t try it. We fell in love with Flying Elephants Deli which was just across Director’s Park.
Getting around Portland was a challenge for me. Somehow my internal compass never correlated with city’s layout and I never felt like I knew where I was. If I did feel like I knew where I was going, I was always wrong and all the streets were one way, going the wrong way. We had a GPS, but many intersections have what seems like dozens of streets merging onto some bridge and before we could figure out where we needed to be, we’d be blocks away and the GPS lady would be “recalculating.” (If you have a Garmin GPS, you know what I mean.)
Then when you got to wherever you had to park. Parking at our hotel was $29, so the first order of business after finding it was finding someplace else to park. We actually found a fairly decent solution (Smart Park) just a block away, but not until we’d driven around for at least a half hour exhausted, starving and disoriented. But that’s overnight parking. Lots of the venues we visited had their own parking lots, but for short term we fell in love with their parking meter system.
One event I’d really been looking forward to was Portland’s First Thursday. The Pearl District is home to Portland’s Art Scene and on the First Thursday of every month they throw out the red carpet, staying open late and serving up snacks. I thought that with a 10:30 AM arrival, getting to First Thursday in the evening would be a no brainer. Our hotel was close to the street car line and I imagined an authentic experience, riding the street car to mingle with Portlander artsy types in their artsy district. That didn’t happen – thank you airline industry.
I also missed OMSI and OHS – Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and the Oregon Historical Society. Portland’s Farmer’s Market at the end of the South Park Blocks was on my wish list, but it was that or the Grand Floral Parade, not much competition there. Didn’t make it to Powell’s Book Store either. Drove by it, but that’s all. So you see, I had just enough of Portland to want a whole lot more.
Food was a whole ‘nother problem. The first night we begged a closing Jimmy Johns to make us a sandwich. For breakfast we ate at McDonald’s until we found the Flying Elephant. We found a Safeway and stored up on snacks and such. Taco Bell was another hit. I know Portland must have some amazing restaurants, but between trying to squeeze three days into two, taking in Rose Week and being lost most of the time, we didn’t find many good ones. The exception was Andina’s, but we’ll talk about it next week.