Portland claims to thrive on weird. Tattoos, long beards, sandals and fleece. And there's the odd vegan strip club and naked bike ride. But to a visitor from New Orleans, city of crazy, Portland feels tame and easygoing. Even the dogs chill out.
In my last blog post, I tempted readers with Portland's food and wine. (If you didn't catch it, go here.)
But when we weren't eating and drinking, we wandered from one side of town to the other, without a goal, and paused any place that caught our eye. First stop was MadeHerePDX, a shop for locally crafted accessories, apparel, kitchen tools, and more.
(2 Photos from MadeHerePDX website)
We browsed the tables of food treats and handcrafted wooden tools and talked to one of the artists about his mini indoor planters. He gave us tips for Portland and vowed to visit New Orleans some day.
From there we walked a block and ducked into Powell's City of Books, the largest independent used and new bookstore in the world.
And, that's where the day ended...or would have if my entourage hadn't yanked me out of the children's section hours later. I swear, I was just getting started. You wouldn't believe what they have in the huge picture book and graphic book sections, or in the used German book section, or the music section, or the...
I wanted to pull up a sleeper couch and stay all night (sigh). Before I left, I consoled myself with three bedtime-reading treats. And that night I dreamed of living in Powell's.
We picked a cooler morning to hike from our rented apartment in the southwest neighborhood to Portland's Rose Garden.
The scent lured us to linger, and oh, the colors!
We continued through Washington Park up into the oasis of the Japanese Garden.
I was pleased to find that cell phones are forbidden and conversations but a murmur.
The sculpted sand and stone gardens and shaded paths remind visitors to turn inward and contemplate a connection to nature. The clipped shrubs and trees highlight seasonal beauty and an ever-changing natural flow.
The Japanese Garden hosts a yearly schedule of tea ceremonies, traditional Japanese festivals, art exhibits, and even maple pruning workshops. Check their list of events before you go.
We made one more stop in Washington Park before we tired out. The Oregon Zoo is a short shuttle ride (free) from the Japanese Garden, so we hopped on.
The lucky ones paddled lazily on the ponds...
or dove deep for cooler temperatures.
After days of walking in the heat, we finally rented a car to view Portland from the hillside neighborhoods. We drove out historied Burnside Street, past the road for the Pittock Mansion, which had closed for the evening. We discovered lovely, manicured properties, but found a better view of the city when we drove up Vista Avenue to Council Crest Park. The park has hiking trails and dog runs. And cyclists are well rewarded with beauty after braving the twisting roads.
One night, we strolled into the Pearl District for its art, food, and music. The brew pubs were spilling people out onto the street and parking was at a premium. East Burnside is another area that draws Portlanders to eat and drink. We didn't make it to LePigeon or Noble Rot but heard great reviews.
On July 4th, we followed a crowd onto the Hawthorne Bridge and waited for the fun.
The sky erupted sometime after ten, and we oohed and clapped with the locals for almost an hour. The late night air brought relief from the heat, but we packed the next morning for our escape into nature.
Stay tuned forPart III - Escaping, on Saturday July 25.