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Author Topic: Portland, OR advice
palmland
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Later this spring we'll be connecting from the EB to the Starlight in Portland. Assuming we're on time, we'll have about 4 hours there. I'd like to sample the transit system, have a good lunch (no fast food or pizza) at an established restaurant that perhaps has a little history, and spend some time in an independent bookstore. Any suggestions?
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TwinStarRocket
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Powell's Books is about 10 blocks from Amtrak. They claim to be the largest independent bookstore in the US. My wife was in this business and this was considered one of the best.
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smitty195
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If you want an independent bookstore, then Powell's Books is THE place to go! Don't miss it--it's really awesome. (If you have a backpack or travel bags with you, you'll need to check them in at the front desk as they are not allowed inside the store). They have a nice railroad section of books, and right next to that is the airplane section. Really great stuff.

I can't recommend a good place to eat as I usually just get room service at my hotel or i pick up something fast. There's always "Voodoo Donuts" which is world-famous! Try one of their donuts-you won't be disappointed.

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yukon11
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One restuarant I can recommend is the restaurant at the Heathman Hotel, at 1001 SW Broadway. It serves breakfast, lunch, & dinner and is always among the top restaurants in Portland.

Richard

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George Harris
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If you plan Powell's Books, forget everything else and be sure you set the alarm on your watch or you will miss your train out. That is if you are even 1/10 the bookstore addict I am.
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zephyr
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I could make a vacation out of hanging out at Powell's Books. It's big, but they provide free maps so you won't get lost. And for the convenience of their illiterate customers, each section is identified by a color (Orange, Purple, Blue Rooms, etc). Color blind customers are sent to Borders (2 blocks south next to Circuit City).

As for eateries, Jake's Famous Crawfish is about a block from Powell's (12th & Stark). Wilf's is at the station, but pricey (the only lunch I've had there was a martini, which was excellent, if I remumbur currectlie).

For alternative dining, my wife and I enjoy grabbing eats at Whole Foods (again, about a block from Powell's). You can put together a good lunch in the deli section. Their tables for in-house munching gives you a great view of the store, which is like front row seats for some bizzare New Age Off-Elm Street theatre play.

For example, a highlight of one of our meals was watching a shopper buying a tomato. I swear, he grilled a hapless employee for a good 5 minutes on the tomato (is it organic? is it local? does the grower contribute to causes that make a difference? did the tomato's red color indicate it's political leanings? yada yada yada).

Really (well, except for the political leanings thing). It was very entertaining, and I would have loved to have stayed there and watched him complete his shopping, but I was anxious to get to my root canal and colonoscopy appointments scheduled quickly for that afternoon.

But I must say I was tempted to skip my appointments and wait for that shopper to hit the tofu section.

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palmland
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I think we will take your advice and skip the leisurely lunch to spend more time at Powell's.

Is there a good brew pub near Powell's? Fish and chips and a stout beer might be just the thing after all that book browsing. Can you take the streetcar from the station to the bookstore/pub?

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zephyr
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Powell's is in the Brewery Blocks of Portland (the old Blitz Weinhard brewery was nearby). A streetcar stop is nearby, but I've found it quicker to just do the walk.

As for brew pubs, the Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House (210 NW 11th St) is a possibility. The aforementioned Jake's has a great old-fashioned-neighborhood-type bar with a great fish menu. There's others near Powell's, but I can't recall their names.

We are talking Portland here, so there's a good selection of beer pubs. Reminds me of a popular bumper sticker adorning many PDX vehicles that proclaims "Keep Portland Weird"(the original site of the Church of Elvis was across from Powell's, but sadly it has moved). Bridgeport Brewery (also near Powell's) countered with a "Keep Portland Beered" sticker.

The town has done a stellar job achieving both goals.

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Vincent206
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The CL streetcar line does connect Union Station to Powell's, but the wayfinding between the station and the streetcar stop isn't real clear and that streetcar line doesn't always have great frequency. (Due to problems with the builder of the streetcars, you might have to wait up to 35 minutes for an arrival.) But you can easily walk to Powell's from Union Station, even in the rain.

Hungry? Here's a look at some of the restaurants near Union Station and Powell's Books.

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DeeCT
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When last in Portland, OR, I stayed at the Mark Spencer Hotel (recommended on this forum). One block from Powells Bookstore (a full day experience and you still will miss half of it.) Jakes Famous is a half block from the hotel and excellent if you are looking for very fresh, very good seafood. (Menu changes frequently according to the several times a day fish deliveries.)
Portland is a beautiful city, very clean, lots of pocket parks, great bus system (was free if I recall), lots to see and do. Zoo. A lovely, peaceful Chinese Tea Garden. The former home of the founder of the city newspaper (name escapes me) which is open for tours and has an incredible view overlooking the city below (located further up the hill from the Rose Gardens.)
Not sure what you mean by Spring, but the Rose Garden is not to be missed during bloom time.

You will need more than four hours in this city !!!

Dee

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palmland
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Thanks for the list, Vincent. Maybe I should let my wife go to Powell's and I'll just pub hop. Deschutes sounds particularly interesting, Zephyr.

Dee, our original plan was to spend a week in Portland and Oregon coast. That's on hold as plans expanded to include meeting friends or family in Glacier, Victoria, and Colorado. So I guess it's 'wait 'til next year'.

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cubzo
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My wife and I visited Portland last Sept. Her for a wedding and I for craft beer. Great public transportation in Portland. Searching on Yelp I found a pub tour that uses walking and the Trimet to visit pubs. The guide is a brewer and the tour runs about $40.
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