"2011 Visit to Portland" Portland Travelogue by WhiteMughal
Portland Travel Guide: 1,461 reviews and 3,110 photos
I took the Amtak Empire Builder to get to Portland. It took about 36 hours. The last few hours went through the Columbia Gorge on the northern side of the river. That was pretty awesome. Oregon east of the Cascades has a lava plateau that must be 1000 feet thick. When you get to peer at it across the river, you get the full magnitude of its geologic size.
When the train pulled into Union Station which is in the northwest quadrant of the city, you get to see the grandness of railway stations of old. I've never been to Penn Station or Grand Central in New York, but I imagine them to be the same style only more massive. Most Amtrak stations are pretty modest compared to Union Station.
But I had childhood memories of Union Station, and it doesn't seem to have changed much from when SP&S and Union Pacific were serving it.
I knew when the train arrived early that I couldn't go straight to my motel room, so I did a bit of reconnoitering of downtown. Walked a few blocks in areas where I had past downtown experience. One thing I disovered right away is that the Greyhound Station is not in SW Portland anymore. As you walk from Union Station toward Burnside, the Greyhound station, a fairly new one, is right on your path.
The next discovery said something about Portland. There is a thing called the "rescue center" which is on Burnside just as you come off the bridge. One of my oldest memories is seeing a lineup of transients there. Hasn't changed. But I did see one aspect of that old reality in a sign someone had posted on a window in what they call Old City. Many downtown restaurants have "no public bathroom" signs. That's nothing new. This sign was something different.
I'd heard all about bikes in Portland, but on October 16, I saw almost none. I also saw no bike lanes. Kinda left me puzzled. This was also the day I discovered you can buy a ticket on Trimet that lets you ride any of their vehicles all day. The cost for all day is $5. I figure this will save me $40 or $50 a day that would have gone to car rental. And it will also give me the freedom to SEE what I'm going by. Driving a car absorbs all the time, or you can slow way down and make the cars behind you nuts. No problem on a bus or a train. These all day tickets really speed loading. The riders just stream onto the bus flashing whatever ticket they have. And none of those experiences I have at home where someone gets on, stands by the driver, and digs everywhere to see if they have a fare. Always wondered at home "Couldn't this have been done while standing at the bus stop?" Apparently in Portland, riders do do it at the bus stop. Also, downtown, the trains and buses stop every 4 blocks. That really makes them all express vehicles.
I made my first restaurant destination to the Goose Hollow Inn. Decades ago, I used to go there whenever I was hungry for a Reuben Sandwich. If you board the Red or Blue Max line downtown (Beaverton or Hillsboro), there is a Goose Hollow stop on Jefferson. Get off there and the restaurant is right across the street. I had the Reuben plate and a beer called Goose Hollow Gold. Lipsmacking. Then I managed to leave the place without my camera! Noticed it when I got off the train, so boarded the next one back and crawled under the table I had sat at. It was there in the dark. Something made it fall off the bench, so I didn't see it as I picked up my backpack. Have to try hard not to have that a repeated experience.
When I was still in my teens, I lived a few blocks from the most famous mall in Portland, the Lloyd Center. At that time it was not an enclosed mall. But for a brief time, they called it America's biggest. Since the Max dropped a block away, I knew I had to go there. Plus I needed some durable NiMH battery for my digital camera. And since I'd lost my cheap mp3 player on the train, I thought I'd shop for a replacement. Got the batteries, but Radio Shack wanted way more than I paid for an mp3. However, being at the mall, I was able to watch skaters on the indoor skating rink. And at t he food court, I stopped for Blackened Chicken. Wow, very good Cajun! And cheap.
After that, I caught the train to downtown and the bus to Powell's City of Books. This is a famed tourist spot in Portland. Everytime someone finds I made a visit to Portland, the memory they tell me of their visit is Powell's. So I only knew it by reputation. Anyway, this "bookstore" engulfs and entire downtown city block. I have no stats to throw at you, but I'm sure their inventory runs to tens of thousands. I bought a couple of maps, an LED flashlight (another thing lost on Amtrak), and I ate a vegan potato salad in the coffee shop. The recipe for the salad is lengthy, but there is no mayonaise and no eggs in it. So, the time to spoil must be much longer than regular potato salad. They don't have any plastic tableware! They got me out a metal fork for eating it. Ah, Portland, your "greenness" is neverending.
I have a niece who is in medical school. She has this preschool daughter I just saw one or two pictures of, so I really wished badly to see the whole family. Anyway, they came in the evening to my motel, picked me up, and took me to a southeast cafe called Papa Haydn's. Papa Haydn's had a very interesting menu, but their crown jewel is their glass case full of desserts. My niece obviously has bought lots of desserts there. And her daughter was all googoo eyes for the dessert case. When we got our table, we ordered real food to eat there and then a takeout dessert to go to their home. It was probably the most fun I've had in Portland so far.
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