Thursday, 28 July 2011

Soaking up the Portland Lifestyle

Although the rest of the US was suffering the effects of a scorching summer, on our arrival in Portland, Oregon we were met with surprisingly cool conditions. However, this was about to change as we had brought the warm weather with us and a taste of summer was soon to arrive. As we began to look around, we were immediately impressed with this leafy city, nestled alongside the Willamette River and surrounded by mountain ranges. When we took the aerial tram for a view the surrounding landscape, we could clearly see snow topped Mount St. Helens and the even more picturesque Mount Hood in the distance. This is truly beautiful countryside … it has it all … picturesque mountains, rivers and ocean! This was further confirmed when Jules and I hired a car one day and drove along leafy roads down to the coast for a delightful seaside lunch at Pacific City. Back in the city centre, we discovered it to be very walkable, although it is serviced by a free tram that we occasionally use to get around. As we have found throughout our journey, the locals were extremely welcoming and always keen to recommend aspects of the city and countryside that may interest us. What I particularly liked was the community’s obvious connection to the visual arts. We saw many examples of public art as we walked the streets, as well as numerous galleries including the Portland Art Museum, which has quite a nice collection of European and American works. When I visited, there was an exhibition entitled ‘The Allure of the Automobile’ displaying some of the most beautiful cars from a bygone era. The famous ‘Saturday Market’ (the biggest outdoor market in the nation) provides an outlet for local artists to display and sell their wares. There was a great atmosphere with plenty of ‘alternative’ folk, reminding us very much of our time in San Francisco. We suspected that the relaxed lifestyle, beautiful surroundings and environmentally conscious community had attracted many from the south as it is a more affordable option. The other big attraction (that particularly won Jules over) was Portland’s love for food, wine, beer and coffee. There was no shortage of places to indulge and during our stay we both did plenty of that... no complaints!

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