Alright, here’s a few megs of pictures, and them I’m done talking about Portland.
Portland was an interesting place to visit. Officially, it’s the city of bridges, the city of roses, and the city that works (same as Stamford, strangely enough). Informally, it seems also to be the city of the homeless, the city of the beggar, the city of the food truck, and the city where people bring their crying babies to fine dining establishments, consistently.
We spent a lot of time walking around the city of Portland, to the extent of putting about 18 miles on foot one day, without really intending it. For reference, don’t try to walk from downtown to the rose garden. It’s a lot harder and less convenient than it looks, especially if you approach Washington Park from the north, after leaving south Portland.
As a side note, one of the greatest evils of mankind is maps that are not to scale. I left my paper maps back in the hotel and switched to exclusive iPhone navigation about midway into the trip after too many distance surprises.
The Saturday Market
Went to the Saturday market on Sunday, because that makes sense. It’s a huge sprawling street fair of various crafting junk and the occasional gem. There’s also a small food truck area, and some live entertainment with beer and such. If the beer could be taken everywhere, it would be nice, but the beer is confined to the entertainment tent. C’est la vie.
The Chinese Garden
The Chinese Garden was very out-of-place. While quite pretty, the gardens were quite small, and it was easy to see the city outside the gardens. Without the ability to be transported out of the city, the tranquility I expected to find here had a very thin veneer.
The tea house at the gardens was fun; tried a flight of teas there and had a good time. My technique with the gaiwans left something to be desired, but it was still a nice relaxing occasion. Worth a trip, though maybe just stick to a pot rather than a flight.
The International Rose Test Garden
After a long hike to Washington park, the rose test garden was an interesting sight. There’s no admission or anything, so we just happened upon it, more or less. There were, well, a ton of roses, most of them ugly and beaten up either by weather or bugs (not sure which). Still, a pretty amazing place in terms of scale and variety, I’m sure it’s outstanding a little earlier in the season.
Portland’s zoo is amazing. It’s in the middle of Washington Park, and doesn’t really feel like a zoo most of the time. Many of the walkways are in the woods to some degree, and the zoo does a very good job of providing immersion. It helps that we were there during a very quiet day; I imagine the place gets pretty packed on a busy weekend. While note a huge zoo, it’s one of my favorites. We spent some time a few centimeters from a giant polar bear, got up close and personal with a lot of stuff, and had a nice contemplative time. Definitely worth a visit.
The Japanese Garden
Unlike the Chinese Garden, the Japanese Garden was quite impressive in expanse and tranquility. Also nestled within Washington Park, there’s a lot of terrain and altitude within the garden, and a lot of opportunities to transport yourself out of the forest. Some annoying guests certainly ruined some of the fun, but for the most part this was one of the most nice and tranquil Japanese gardens I’ve visited. Very much worth a stroll; it only takes an hour or two to tour the premises.