"A few Travel Favorites - Both Near and Far" Personal Page by glabah
To call this list "Favorite Places" would be inaccurate, as the list is intended to include my own personal list of favorites that I have written tips about. While it is true this may be places, it may also include restaurants, historical artifacts, monuments, stores, events, people (for people can really make a place seem very special) and even a few objects.
Portland, Oregon Area Events I Find Interesting
ZooLights: There is a lot of creativity involved in getting all those lights to do what the artists want them to - yes, I consider them artists, as creating a Christmas Hippo certainly requires creativity. I've even got a Travelogue with photos from my 2007 visit and a 2004 Travelogue with yet more photos.
Neighborhood Art Walks are a great way to explore some of the city neighborhoods and see some of the creative types that live here at the same time.
If I feel like going out, and don't have anything better to do, I usually check to see what is going on at The Bagdad or The Laurelhurst. These Second-Run theatres show movies at a fraction of the cost of a regular movie theatre, and have a decent selection of stuff to drink or eat (not the greatest though).
A New-Found Favorite
Seattle didn't used to be a place I was interested in visiting. Metropolitan Puget Sound has a population of 3.5 million, which is currently about the same as the entire state of Oregon. It was just too much city for my tastes, plus having passed through it a few times on my way elsewhere, I wasn't especially impressed. In 2009 I was given a new perspective, and had seven Seattle visits in a year, and now consider it a new-found favorite.
I enjoy hiking, and I like being in places that have a view. It doesn't have to be the most famous tourist attraction, but just give me a place where I can see something worth looking at. A friend of mine lives just a few blocks from Seattle's Ella Bailey Park, where the above photo was taken. On a clear day you can also see Mount Rainier from this park. There is now a special place in my heart for Seattle.
Though, I still really like my home town of Portland.
As a place famous for water (most of it falling from the sky), Portland is a natural place to have fountains. One of my most favorite fountains in Portland is Ira Keller's Fountain in downtown.
Small Town Favorites
I am not much of a city person. I like having stuff to do, and I can appreciate some aspects of city life. However, large, dangerous, obnoxious smelling places like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Los Angeles, etc. are not my thing, generally speaking. Some smaller cities I like include:
Port Townsend, Washington - an eccentric arts place surrounded by wonderful scenery
Corvallis, Oregon - another place with some arts and culture, though the scenery isn't quite as spectacular
One of my favorite works of public art is the EcoEarth Globe in Salem, Oregon. It was created from a huge acid tank that was the last remaining piece of an industrial complex that was removed from the river front in order to create Salem Riverfront Park. This park is also the home of the
Salem Riverfront Carousel, which is another spectacular work of art in its own right.
Some other places that are nearby, and personal favorites:
National Wildlife Refuges, including
I like Ankeny too, but it doesn't have much in the way of hiking trails or other stuff to do - though there are a few. Also, there always seems to be something interesting in terms of migrating birds hanging around there. Tualatin River can be good too, but only a small portion is open to the public, and even less is open during wintering waterfowl months.
The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is pretty nice too, but as it is slightly north of Olympia it is a bit far, and I don't get to see it that much. It is rapidly getting boxed in by all manner of suburban development, which makes a visit much less of a respite into nature than it used to be.
State Parks: especially Silver Falls is among our state's wonderful places. It's a very popular park though, and Willamette Mission is enjoyable due to its lesser people (most of the time) and being somewhat more distant from most traffic noise, though there isn't anything spectacular about the scenery. Just the fact that at times it is possible to find some solitude there makes it nice.
As a natural feature, I do like the Columbia Gorge and its centerpiece of Multnomah Falls. Unfortunately, as time has gone on, there is an increasing amount of tourist traffic to this area. This is good for the economy of the communities located there, but it also means that hotels are larger and more frequent, housing has increased (both causing increased land clearing), crowds are larger, and in general the Columbia Gorge is less scenic and less enjoyable than it was 20 years ago.
There are good tourists, and there are no-so-good tourists. It is nice to be able to travel, but it is hard not to visit places in the world where massive suffering takes place and not be moved. As mentioned on my VT home page, many of my international travels so far have been done as part of volunteer work. My first such trip was to the city of Londrina, Brasil. Those two weeks were hard, but at the same time it was the people who I came to treasure, and I wish that everyone could have an experience that would allow them to really fall in love with another culture. People can travel without having any contact at all with the national people, and unfortunately that is what so many pre-packaged tour travels do. Really getting to know the people is a huge step, and what really serves as a world-view changing event - even for those of us who were very well informed about the rest of the world before we went out of our comfort zone.
So naturally, Brasil has become one of my favorite places, even though as of this writing I haven't been able to return for a visit in quite some time.
Yes, I use the commonly accepted international spelling of Brasil, and not the American form Brazil. To date, no one has really given me what I feel is a valid reason NOT to use the internationally accepted name - and I found that if I use it, the post office gets the mail through at the same speed, if not slightly faster, so why not?
Of the places in Brasil that I have come to love, the Foz do Iguaçu are are the top of the list - referring to the wonderful waterfall. The city could definitely use a bit of work, but the falls make up for it - from both the Brasilian side and the Argentine Side.
And another favorite: if you go to the city of Foz do Iguaçu, be sure to stop by Oficina do Sorvete which is recognized as one of the best ice cream stores around.
I've found I am not fond of the large urban areas of South America as they tend to be fairly dangerous (São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, for example). Yet even then there are places in both that I really enjoyed visiting. For example, in Rio de Janeiro I really enjoyed the trip on the Bonde Santa Tereza (naturally, because of my interest in old railway lines!).
When I was about two years old I developed a devoted fascination with trains, which while not exactly worn off it has grown considerably less focused than it used to be. I still prefer a good (or even mediocre) train trip to just about any other method of getting somewhere. This photo was taken on a special steam outing on the Grand Canyon Railway, which operates from Williams to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona.
I've come to really enjoy watching creative animated fountains. I suppose it shouldn't be too surprising that I have thoroughly enjoyed Bremerton, Washington. There are several very eccentric (some quite small, and some larger) fountains scattered through the downtown area. Though my home town of Portland, Oregon has a number of fountains, none of them are animated like the fountains as Harborside Fountain Park or the extensive fountain (with some animated features in places) in the Naval Shipyard Memorial Plaza. Two smaller fountains exist in plazas and staircases around the new shopping and hotel complex northwest of the ferry terminal.
I have come to appreciate those that have restored historic machinery to operating condition. Doing this type of thing is an amazing effort, and those that work with antique steam vehicles such as found at the Antique Powerland Museums certainly have earned my respect. Certainly, preserved old machines have a place in museum displays and the like, but they are not especially interesting if they are stationary. Watching (and hearing!) such ancient beasts as the 4449 or an antique steam tractor come to life is to see and hear and experience history in a whole new light. If given a choice between dead or alive, always choose alive!
VT Tip of the Day is a new feature starting 1 November 2011. The staff on this web site picks something they found interesting.
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