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Scarlett Oct 2nd, 2004 05:01 PM

Scarletts Portland Trip Report

Portland, what can I say, I fell in love!

First of all, Thank you everyone who helped me with the planning..the dear Yankee knows exactly who I mean when I tell him, " we have to go here, someone recommended it to me".. his eyebrow goes up, he asks, " from Fodors?" I think by the end of this trip, he has a new respect for Fodors ~

We stayed at the Fifth Avenue Suites Hotel on Fifth Ave and Washington. *a Kimpton Hotel*
We got a very good price because we stayed 10 nights, extended stays get a break. We had a King Suite and it was wonderful. A huge bathroom, new, marble etc with Aveda products. A foyer with a big closet, iron and board, one in our room used them !
A small sitting room with a large sofa, armoire type unit with tv and mini bar. A table with two chairs and a nice coffee table. Through sliding French doors a nice sized bedroom with two big windows and a huge bed..wonderful linens, down comforter and pillows, double sheeted and cased! A dresser, chair and table and another tv. The Yankee ignored me every time I told him that it was all we needed to live there!

AND they not only accept dogs, but they write their names on a dog cut out blackboard at the front desk.
Next trip, maybe we will bring the Pup although as I suspected, he was spoiled rotten and waited on hand and foot (paw) ~

The people that work at the desk and elsewhere are perfect, have great attitudes and they are as helpful as they can be.
Garage - expensive. We rented a car ($35)and kept it in the garage one night- $23-


Powells Bookstore. I knew before we got there that it is the biggest bookstore in the US. but it is still mindboggling. An entire city block holding one million books that you need a map to find your way around the store...heaven .
And they are online :)

Pioneer Place mall, upscale, several stories high, glass roof, if you are in a need for a shopping fix, between this place -which has a Saks Fifth Ave-and nearby Nordstroms, you will be quite happy .
Then you can go to Nob Hill / NW 23rd street and hit the boutiques ( Urbino for wonderful soaps and Lush if you are so inclined) ..a sort of Upper WestSide meets Haight Ashbury feeling. Then wander over to the Pearl and get something terribly chic and black. (Everyone wears the cooolest glasses! Black and very hip..gotta get a pair!
Oh yes, thank you PamSF and mms, I did find and browse in French Quarter and I did not buy anything! Sort of too much to choose from so I got nuttin! Another reason to go back.

You can get around town easily and charmingly by Streetcar, bus or MaxLight Rail, that even I managed and loved.
After all, your feet will wear out fast enough -might as well take a streetcar or trolley and save them as long as you can.
They have a " Fareless Square" part of Downtown so you can hop on and off without paying..we did that a couple of times, but ended up buying day passes.

The Pearl district...Soho in Portland. We loved it. I would definitely consider a loft apt with a view of the river and bridges. Shops, galleries, many good restaurants.

Saturday Market...Need a tie dye shirt? some incense? How about a hand blown glass pipe?

Museums and Gardens
The Portland Museum of of the best Asian Art rooms outside of the Met ( IMHO) lovely, just lovely. And not crowded!
The entire city is a sort of museum.

Some brilliant person who thought ahead, decided at one time, to not tear down all the old buildings with such character and charm, but had them gutted and modern conveniences were installed, giving us a lovely charming city without the cold and unfriendly highrises (there are only a few) and lots of wonderful buildings that now house hotels, stores and businesses.
All of the buildings have retail on the ground floor so it is quite a nice town for people to actually use and live in.
There are sculptures and paintings everywhere, a couple of examples of the best trompe l'oeil that I have ever seen on the sides of buildings!

We took a train to Washington Park where you will find the Rose Gardens, The Japanese Gardens and the Zoo.
We went to the Japanese Gardens. They brought tears to my eyes, they were so beautiful.
Perfect and quite beautiful with the Japanese maples starting to turn red, the leaves drifting down to float on the water in the many ponds. Koi will swim up to meet you, you can look out over all of Portland from up there.
We had perfect sunny weather every day but we were told that the Japanese Gardens are even more beautiful in a soft misty rain. We will have to go back and compare.

Waterfront Park..walk along the Willamette River to Riverplace. A hotel and a few restaurants and shops. But the park and the view are what you go least on a good day.

cigalechanta Oct 2nd, 2004 05:08 PM

come to Boston and do one on my town.
you made it sound very inviting.

Scarlett Oct 2nd, 2004 05:10 PM


After 10 days of eating in restaurants, I usually start to long for something plain, scrambled eggs, a bowl of soup, nothing fancy and precious.
But almost the entire time we were in Portland, I enjoyed and never got tired of the food.
In no particular order, we ate in the following :

Papa Haydns NW 23rd ..
both times for lunch and never had dessert. Delicious lunches and I will go back for that Banana cake with chocolate!

The Red Star Tavern at the Fifth Ave Suites Hotel.
They are in the same building but it is a seperate business.
No matter what meal or if just for tea, we loved this place. The food was fresh and perfectly prepared, the chef has won all sorts of awards and the wait staff is one of the best I have ever come across. Fab breakfast! They packed us a lunch for our day trip to the forests, and we had tea there each afternoon when we knew we could not walk another step.. And do not miss the Chocolate Chip cookie in a skillet for dessert!

In the Hotel Vintage Plaza, also a Kimpton hotel. Italian, very very good fresh pasta dishes and Italian wines.

Brasserie Montmarte
on Park Ave. Very busy, great bustling atmosphere and pretty good food. Good for dinner before a show or movie. Live music starts later in the evening.

down in the Pearl. I loved the interior, the way the sections of the rooms are marked off with the black draperies..the table we had was most private and comfortable.
Our waiter was fast and knew his wines and the food was pretty good. But I have to say that of all the "good" restaurants I have been to, in the US and in Europe..this place is a tiny bit on the overhyped side. .. and more than a tiny bit on the overpriced side. I would never notice how much it cost if it tasted better..but somehow it just didn't quite make it..but it is a pretty place and so were most of the people :)

The Heathman at the Heathman Hotel.
We ate here in the bar before we saw the Taiko Drummers next door at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts.
We had "bites"...they were good.
The second time we had dinner, while it was good, they never quite managed , things were undercooked, uncooked, cold etc...
So I won't recommend dinner but I do recommend a bite in the bar .


We saw the Portland Taiko Drummers. It was amazing and fun and we both thoroughly enjoyed the entire night, 2 1/2 hours of drumming! They are online so you can listen to a minute of their sound and look at is quite an entertaining evening, especially if you like percussion:)

We saw the Lyon Ballet .. Excellent!!

We saw a couple of foreign films, Jax Fl is not famous for its foreign and arthouse we got our fix in Oregon :)
Their cinemas are very clean and new and comfortable.

I guess that is about is hard to tell about 10 days of a great holiday succintly and without being boring..
We both fell in love with Portland and while the Yankee asked everyone he met about the rain,we had sunny days and saw the city in the best of lights..but I would be willing to go back asap and see it in the rain too..
Which is probably what we will do~

Little_Man Oct 2nd, 2004 05:11 PM

I've lived in California for 15 years now and never made it to the northwest. Thanks, you really made me want to visit!
Is Portland pretty? As in scenic?

Scarlett Oct 2nd, 2004 05:11 PM

LOL, Mimi, it would be a pleasure!!

Scarlett Oct 2nd, 2004 05:12 PM

Gorgeous as in scenic :D
The city is surrounded by mountains, we had a view of Mt Hood from our hotel window. The huge pine trees and spruce trees keep it green, the maples were turning red, then there is that ocean! Try to get up there and visit, I think you will like it a Lot :)

Patrick Oct 2nd, 2004 05:18 PM

Sounds great. I love Portland. We walk a lot and I'm always reminded how much green space and how many fountains and sitting areas public buildings have. They have done an amazing job with restrictions on new buildings.

mms Oct 2nd, 2004 05:19 PM

Scarlett, so glad you enjoyed it here! I knew you would though:) My SIL wears those little black glasses. So far our dd hasn't asked for them...yet!

Beatchick Oct 2nd, 2004 05:26 PM

Oh, wow, Scarlett, you tell this with freshness, verve, energy!!

I'm glad you & the Yank had fun in Portland with "C" and were able to get away from the awful hurricanes in FL. I trust everything was good & fine when you got back? And pup was happy to see all?

So what foreign films did you get to see? Please do tell all!

Andrew Oct 2nd, 2004 05:36 PM

If you do want to see art house films while in Portland, please visit the Cinema 21 in NW Portland ( This is an old, independent theater that still shows the cooliest first-run art house films in Portland. The Regal Fox Tower and Pioneer Place Cinemas are chain multiplexes lacking in character. There's also the Northwest Film Center ( at the art museum showing even less commercial stuff, and in February they do 17 days of international films at the Portland International Film Festival (a non-competitive, low-key festival that is about the films, not about acolades or glitz).

P_M Oct 2nd, 2004 06:27 PM

This sounds like a great trip. I've never been to Portland, but now I want to go. I think it's great that the hotel treated Pup so well. It's hard to find hotels that take dogs, and even harder to find one that waits on them hand and paw.

Thanks for taking me to Portland, Scarlett. I'm usually on the Europe board, but I should visit the US board more often. It's always good to see so many of my favorite posters on one thread. :-)

Scarlett Oct 2nd, 2004 06:39 PM

Aww, thanks honey, but Pup stayed home and got spoiled rotten. I will try to take him with me next time though :)

P_M Oct 2nd, 2004 06:51 PM

I'm sorry, Scarlett, I overlooked that part. :-[

Scarlett Oct 2nd, 2004 06:53 PM

P_M LOL ((F))
I just found the house that we looked at when our friend took us on a neighborhood tour. We saw an Open House and stopped. I wanted the house :) it is on still want it ~

Marilyn Oct 2nd, 2004 09:03 PM

Great report, Scarlett! We were in Portland this summer but attending a convention and had little time for all the wonderful activities you describe. Now I want to go back! Why don't you buy that charming house and I'll come visit?

Scarlett Oct 2nd, 2004 09:08 PM

From your mouth...! Marilyn :D
Did I mention the Free Internet access at the hotel?
The Towncar that the hotel called for us instead of a cab but cost the same?
It was so nice there .

Orcas Oct 2nd, 2004 09:46 PM

Thanks for a great trip report, Scarlett. I'm glad you had such a nice time. We lived in Portland several years and I hated leaving it. Aside from being in a beautiful setting, Portland's liveability is not an accident. Oregon has the most stringent land use controls in the nation, restricting development to protect agricultural areas. Hence, the State doesn't suffer the urban sprawl of most areas. 97% of the Oregon Coast is public land. The City has some of the most imaginative planners in the US and a commitment to preserving the quality of life. When a bank building was built blocking the view of many to Mt. Hood, the City decided that should not happen again, and imposed height limitations on future development. The City even moved an interstate highway from the west side of the Willamette River, opening the land up to park. (Can you tell I was trained as a City Planner?)

When we were afraid the Willamette R. would overflow its banks into downtown several years ago and flood the downtown, thousands of volunteers rushed to the riverfront to build a seawall overnight, that would have protected the downtown (but the River didn't quite rise that far, as it turned out).

Alas, budget shortfalls are hurting Oregon tremendously, and the City of Portland. I won't get into Oregon politics, but it is really sad to see a place so lovely have to cut so many good programs and the schools for lack of a tax base.

Marilyn Oct 2nd, 2004 09:51 PM

Thanks for that info, Orcas. You can see the imagination and creativity of the city planners in the very fabric of the city. It is a pleasure to be there, and one is struck by all the lovely parks, fountains, plazas, public art, etc.

lcuy Oct 2nd, 2004 10:03 PM

Hi Scarlett- I knew you'd like Portand! Isn't it just a cool city?

I totally agree on 5th Ave Suites. I could just move in and be comfortable for a long time! And if I did, I'd get a pair of those glasses too..

I need 5200 miles on Hawaiian Air by 12/31/04 to keep my premiere status, so I'm making up excuses in order to get my husband to suggest I head over there.

How about:
"You mom sounds a little depressed, I must go cheer her up"(he'd call her)

"our daughter needs help with her college science classes; I must go tutor her"(he'd never fall for that!!),

or how about:
"my best friend just bought a big old Portland house and if I went to help her paint and fix up, I'd probably lose 10 pounds and tighten up my arms" (hmmm, that just might work!)

OOps, didn't mean to detract from your great trip report Scarlett. It just got me missing Portland!

LoveItaly Oct 3rd, 2004 02:09 AM

Scarlett, thanks for posting your trip report. I have family in Portland and am usually there once a year. No matter how long I stay I always hate to leave. So I have been interested how you felt about Portland. Not surprised how wonderful you trip was as Portland is a beautiful city. Now lets just hope that Mt.St. Helens doesn't send her ash all over Portland (and the Columbia River) as she did in 1980.

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