Posted by: TomA | 17 April 2007

Portland, Oregon

At the weekend Becky and I undertook the 11 hour trek to Portland, Oregon. It’s not actually that far, but the bus ride to Seattle takes a long time (mainly to allow plenty of time to be thoroughly frisked by the ever friendly US Immigration staff) and the train from Seattle to Portland isn’t much quicker. That said, trains are super-fun.

Our train wasn’t as super fun as I’d hoped, not being one of the huge, double-decker, fast and fun trains; but a bit more like a boring train at home. That said, the engine car was bloody huge and it also had a fun whistle – used gratuitously throughout the 4 hour journey – that I’m still hearing in my head.

We stayed at the Hi-Hostel in Northwest Portland which was jolly nice – clean, quiet and with free bread for breakfast. I’m guessing not all the hostels we stay in on our travels are going to be as pleasant and friendly as this one…

The area we were in was great. NW 21st and NW 23rd were chock full of fun shops, tasty smelling restaurants and lovely pubs. And what lovely pubs, full of really rather lovely beer. I’d heard Portland was known for having lots of microbreweries, but there were loads of them. And not only was the beer twice as good as that in Vancouver but it seemed to only cost half the amount!

The Sunday was spent mainly just wandering around Downtown in the glorious spring sunshine. The Saturday market was open, full of people selling typical market tat, good smelling food and bizarre musicians (my favourite being an elderly bearded gent playing insane rockabilly/rhythm and blues/oddities, backed by a young girl playing musical saw and a guy playing washboard and spoons).

Portland has free trams! Within the downtown core, the trams are free (as are the buses), and people don’t seem to get run over by them as often as in Nottingham.

We came across what is apparently the world’s first post-modern building, built in 1980. We were suitably unimpressed. It doesn’t really look post- anything (not that either of us are experts on modern architecture). We were expecting a fancy, flash, curvy interesting building and not some 15 story office block. Though it had a statue [below] on the front. How post-modern.

Portland is known for it’s Asian elephants. I think. At the least, there seemed to be lots of touristy elephant junk and some model elephants. More interesting (though un-photographed) were the toy horses around North-West Portland. We initially thought they’d just been left as a joke, but actually seemed to have been made part of the street furniture and were permanently attached. Odd, but rather sweet.

For Becky’s 21st, we headed to the zoo (after the pub, for some legal drinking). The zoo apparently has a large elephant breeding program, though how, we weren’t sure. There only seemed to be one.

The bats appeared to have far less problem breeding. To the point where maybe the zoo should have started discouraging them. Frequently. So, lots of bats; not many elephants. There were supposed to have been lots of bears (polar, black, grizzly), though we’re guessing they’d gone for picnic when we were there. Why do zoos never actually have bears you can see? Shame.

Other zoo fun was had stroking metal salmon [above] and playing with the water like a child [below].

Vancouver, WA is ten minutes from Portland. Vancouver, BC ten hours. Shame Washington’s Vancouver looked so lame…

So, Portland. Great beer, free trams, smells of dill.

[Just to finish off, two photos below of Seattle taken from the bus. One is of a big building; the other a man walking away from the train station. Neither are relevant to anything]



  1. Sophie’s is great, but have you tried The Elbow Room on Davie (between Richards and Seymour? Truly one of the most fun places to eat! Best to go with a group and a sense of humour!

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