Day 23 – Portland

After a great night sleep I woke up with a sore throat and congestion. Was petrified that I was getting tonsillitis again which I’d had a few months earlier in a really bad way. Nothing would ruin my trip more than a week of that – even the dreaded Swine Flu that everyone was talking about wasn’t a patch on a bad case of slivered sliced tonsils. Hoped more that it was just a reaction to the beer I’d drunk the night before. Soldiering on we headed off to the hotel courtyard restaurant for some breakfast. Ran in to Fiona and Auntie Sue who were finishing up theirs already in one of the booths, so we chatted and made plans for the day.   The pancakes were cheap and tasty and we made sure we ordered some bacon to go with it. I had a big apple juice to ward off sickness.

The Courtyard Restaurant:

The Courtyard Restaurant at McMenamins Kennedy School Hotel

After checking up the excellent bus timetable on the public transport tool in Google maps we agreed to meet after breakfast at the bus stop which is just across the road from the hotel. The ride in to the city part of Portland took us about 25 minutes and cost us maybe $2? Once you are in the city all the buses and trams are free within the designated free area which is a fantastic way to get around. Portland is well known for being a bit of a green city with all it’s bikeways and public transport options and that is something I wish all cities would aspire to. Portland reminds me in some ways of being similar to my hometown of Brisbane, Australia so I felt at home. Might have something to do with us both having bike carriers on the front of our buses.

The green area is the bikeway:

Bikeways are important in Portland

By the time we arrived in town it was raining so we had to race to the Travel Portland Visitors Center for some cover. We didn’t really know what exactly what we wanted to do in Portland other than ride the Aerial Tram so we took some time looking at the brochures, going to the loo and finding out where the nearest post office was while we waited for the rain to stop. Eventually it past and we wandered up to the post office so that Mum, Sue and Fiona could post some postcards. The post office was a grand establishment inside, mainly because it’s in the Portland Courthouse. We had a lot of time to admire it since the man being served in front of mum was a little insane and took ages to be served. We had encountered a few strange people already on our trip in which verified the Portland catchphrase of “keep Portland weird”. Across the road from the post office was the Portland Theater which has a brilliant marquee out the front where I stopped to take photos.

The Portland Courthouse Post Office:

Solomon Courthouse Post Office

Portland Theater:

Portland Theatre

By this time the rain had stopped and the skies were clearing so we decided to go catch the Aerial Tram instead of doing it in the afternoon as we planned. We walked a few streets over to catch a free tram to the aerial tram and were followed by another crazy old guy who was yelling religious stuff at us as we walked away. He yelled at some bike riders too which was pretty funny. We had to run to catch the tram since we saw it coming down the road which wasn’t great for my now chesty congested body and I had to resign myself to the fact that I was getting a cold. The tram though was excellent since it announces all the stops and shows them up on a sign. Having a tram infrastructure is one of my requisites of a truly great city so I was happy. Unfortunately due to maintenance the tram stopped at the end of the free zone and we had to transfer to a bus to take us to the aerial tram. Not wanting to pay we decided to walk the rest of the way which didn’t look that far on the map. It was a bit longer than expected but we did get to see some wildlife, industrial area and under the bridge. I think Auntie Sue and I could have both done without the walk but hey, we made it.

The Portland Aerial Tram is a tram that transfers Oregon Health and Science University students and employees between the two campuses. It’s second role is to give tourists like us a little thrill to ride up the mountainside and get a good view of the city from high up. It’s quite strange to ride something like that which is normally surrounded by trinket stores and fast food. Instead you pay $4 to ride with people carrying folders and wearing name badges. Mum, Auntie Sue and Fiona took a little too long to get their tickets and somehow Pauline and I ended up riding up without them. It was fun though cause I got to take pictures of them arriving at the top when they finally did make it. There were only two trams operating on the day we were there (probably like that all the time) so while one is coming up the other is going down. Once you get to the top there isn’t much to do unless you want to go to hospital, so we took a toilet break and then headed back down again.

Portland Aerial Tram:

View from the Portland Aerial Tram

Fiona on the tram:

Fiona on the Portland Aerial Tram

View from the tram:

View from the Portland Aerial Tram

Upper Terminal station:

Marquam Hill Upper Tram Terminal

We caught the bus and tram back in to town and I remembered that I wanted to go to a book store that is a well known destination in Portland. It doesn’t sound much to want to go to a book store but this is a huge new and secondhand store that has about 3 floors of books. As soon as we got there all of us headed off in different directions. It’s annoying to be in a place as great as that knowing that we can’t buy too much because we have to lug it all the way back to Australia. I kept my purchases down to only two items from the GLBT section which was virtually an entire aisle of books. So jealous they have a book store like that, but it’s probably for my own good that I don’t live near one.

Powell’s Books – this shot doesn’t show you how big it truly is:

Powell's Books Store in Portland

We took another free bus from outside the bookstore to the Chinese Gardens which Mum and Auntie Sue wanted to see. Beside the bus stop was a collection of childrens bikes which looked almost like public art, but I don’t think that was their purpose. On the bus we encountered more strange and smelly people which made us start to wonder if today was the day they let out the mental people for day release. Why are there so many people with obvious mental issues in Portland?

Public art or rubbish?

A unique way to park bikes in Portland

Off the bus I diverted us to the one place I could not leave Portland without visiting. Voodoo Donuts. Anthony Bourdain had introduced me to this fine establishment via his tv show and I was desperate to try the bacon maple donut he’d tried there. If you can imagine a punk rocker who had a sense of humor opening a donut shop you’d have some idea of this place. The signature donut is a voodoo doll shaped donut with raspberry blood inside and pretzel pin pricks in it. The donuts have funny names like cock and balls (which is penis shaped) and Memphis mafia (an Elvis inspired donut with peanut butter and banana involved). It was rather busy in there when we arrived so we were sort of rushed through our purchase and we headed outside to eat our orders. The funniest moment of the day came when we discussed our orders.

Amy: “I got the bacon maple donut, what is your’s Fiona”
Fiona: ” A dirty snowball”
Amy: “What did you get Auntie Sue?”
Auntie Sue: “Old Dirty Bastard”

Words can’t really portray the dry way she delivered the line about a donut based on a black american rapper. I couldn’t stop laughing about it for hours.

The Voodoo Donut counter:

Voodoo Doughnut in Porttland

Dirty Snowball:

Dirty Snowball Doughnut from Voodoo Doughnut

Ol Dirty Bastard:

Ol' Dirty Bastard doughnut from Voodoo Doughnut

After the donuts we finally visited the Chinese Garden mum had been patiently wanting to visit since the morning. She had sat through the bookstore and donuts but really she was dreaming of these gardens all day. Fiona, Pauline and I waited outside since we didn’t really want to spend the $11 entry fee to see something we weren’t that interested in (not that I don’t like Chinese Gardens – I just don’t like paying that much to see them). Fiona, Pauline and I acted like guides while waiting, directing people in to the store to buy their tickets. Sue and Mum took about 15 minutes inside and then we took a bus back to the hotel, once again encountering crazies at the bus stop. On the bus I watched a guy who looks like Cory Doctorow put his bike on the front of the bus only to forget it 10 minutes later when he got off and walked away. “But your bike…” I said through the window to him as he walked away in to the distance, admittedly not loud enough for anyone to hear. I told myself he would get it back when it arrived at the terminus. We got off a stop early so I could buy some cold and flu drugs at the pharmacy since I was well and truly sick by this point.

Sue at the Chinese Gardens:

Sue at the Portland Classical Chinese Garden

Chinese gardens:

Portland Classical Chinese Garden

Sue, Fiona and Lynne on the bus:

Fiona, Sue and Mum on a Portland Bus

Back at the hotel I took some drugs and then went off with Pauline to the Boiler Bar. I had a rum and ginger beer while Pauline tried another beer and we ordered a pizza for dinner. The Boiler bar is probably the biggest bar in the hotel and is designed with lots of cast iron and radiators. It is two floors with pool tables and games as well as tvs. We sat downstairs in a booth to be nearer to the bar. After finishing our dinner we headed over to the cinema to see another film for free, this one was a Liam Neeson film called Taken. A little far fetched but in my state I was just happy to sit down and not move. After the film I went to bed while Mum and Pauline decided to watch the Wrestler afterwards. I wouldn’t have minded seeing that film too, but I wasn’t in a state for anything other than bed by that point. They didn’t spend too long watching it anyway and left early due to the blood and guts that apparently it is full of. Sleep for me came quickly, however at 1am it was disrupted – a story I will tell tomorrow since it really belongs there.

The Boiler bar at McMenamins:

Boiler room bar at McMenamins Kennedy School Hotel

Boiler room bar at McMenamins Kennedy School Hotel

For more photos, check out the Flickr Set.

Tweets of the day:

@MiNGLED Frost/Nixon keeps you interested the whole time through even though I pretty much knew the outcome. It’s pretty good.
Hoping the congestion and sore throat is an allergy to the beer I drank last night and not a sign of tonsilitis to come.
This school hotel keeps getting better. $4 for a short stack of pancakes. Wooden booths and a view of the garden.  http://twitpic.com/4q1mc
Rum doesn’t often appear on menus here. I’m not sure why, it must be out of fashion. I miss it.
Waiting in the most ornate post office I’ve ever seen. It’s in the Portland courthouse.  http://twitpic.com/4qd82
Riding the Portland aerial tram from one hospital to another hospital campus. Nice view!   http://twitpic.com/4qiw7
I am in quite possibly the best book store in the world. Powells in Portland. So jealous that we don’t have something like this in Australia
Fav line of the day. What did u get sue? Old dirty bastard. Photo attached.  http://twitpic.com/4qof4
@ireckon only 1 pair bought thus far.
Still in awe of the entire glbt aisle at powells. I walked out with 2 lady on lady books. Could have been more.
Same hotel, new bar. Boiler room.  the Kennedy school hotel is the only place to stay in Portland.  http://twitpic.com/4r0xz
Sore throat becoming chesty cough. Hope to god it’s not an infection and just an allergic reaction or something to beer.

Comments

comments

One thought on “Day 23 – Portland

  1. Lynne

    I have decided that you must have been really impressed with Portland. This city seems to be the one that you have written more words than any other. Still writing great stories and I’m loving reading it. Soon you will be up to San Francisco and Madonna will be happy.

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