Two Coasts. 7,300+ Miles. 9 Days.
Portland, OR -- 23 Hours
Portland's Union Station. The message on the clock tower, "Go By Train", is one I now readily agree with!
I was able to store one of my bags overnight at the luggage center, free of charge, as the Metro lounge isn't secure overnight. This made the ensuing walk easier. From the station I walked to my hotel, The Mark Spencer (which was suggested to me through the archives here; plus I got a great rate on expedia). Along the way I began to get a feel for Portland. I was put off by the large amount of beggars and homeless folks. I passed a large protest (which judging by the large amount of F*** Bush posters, and that it was inauguration day, I am guessing it was an anti Bush rally). It was hard to tell if I was in a good or bad neighborhood. I did start to come to like this city, though. I checked in, took a long long shower, and then went out seeking dinner. It took about an hour of wandering the city looking for a place to eat. As I always do when in a new city I explore by using the green light method: I never wait for a traffic light to cross an intersection, I just let the green lights determine my direction. I was about to give up and get pizza when I stumbled across Manzana, in downtown Portland. I had the best chicken I have ever had. So good. I can still taste the spices and the sauce. Plus I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is no sales tax! On the way back to the hotel I stopped in Powell's Books and instantly fell in love!
This was as close to the protest as I came -- being tired and with luggage, I didn't feel like wading through the crowds; The Mark Spencer hotel was a welcome sight and a provided a lovely respite from the train; My heart, though, belongs to Powell's -- such a bookstore!
The next morning I went to the library, walked around the city and spent about 5 hours in Powell's.
The entrance to Portland's China Town; Sadly the local Borders seems weak and empty compared to Powell's; The rails at Union Station.
Eventually I made my way back to the metro lounge. This was my favorite one -- it was small, cozy and you can tell it was a recent addition to the building. They had more amenities here than they did in Chicago, plus, because of the size, better personal attention. I had lots of tea.
Eastbound on the Empire Builder