A quick trip to Portland, Oregon turned out to be more enjoyable than I could have imagined. For months I watched airfares for an affordable rate for a 3 day trip to visit my brother who was in the VA Hospital. Round trip flights to Portland generally run anywhere from $400 to $600. Finally, CheapOair came through with a round trip fare of $271 – taxes and fees included. They also arranged lodging saving me $60. Total flight and lodging: $463.41 for 3 days and 3 nights in Portland. That savings alone added to my “enjoyment”.
I contemplated renting a car, but never having been to Portland and not knowing what the traffic conditions were I decided combining public transit with taxi service was the route to go on this first trip.
There are many options to getting to and from the airport. I chose Blue Star Express to take me from the airport and deliver me at my motel door 16 miles from the airport. Cost $14.00. That’s a bargain. When I left Portland I opted for the Taxi. My 6 AM flight had a lot to do with that. While the Express offers great transportation it stops for other passengers so time could be an issue. Cab fare: $34.00, but it gave me peace of mind knowing I wouldn’t miss a 6 AM flight.
The Portland public transportation system is excellent and their website is very explicit. Enter where you are and where you want to go and you have written directions and a map. From my motel to the VA hospital I walked two blocks to a bus stop, and deposited my $1 (That transit ticket was good for 3 hours and yes, I’m a senior. If you’re not old it’s $2.50)
My choice of cab was Radio Cab, and I could not have been happier with their rates, their service and their drivers and dispatchers. They know their customers even if they only serve them for a couple days. More than once when I called for a cab the dispatcher would ask “How did you like that?” or “Did you find what you were looking for?” and I even got the “What kind of doughnut did you have?” Especially nice to hear when you’re traveling alone. The cab drivers were amazing at pointing out different things to me as we rode to my destination. I even know how to pronounce Willamette (River) thanks to a friendly driver. For those who don’t know, the correct pronunciation rhymes with Dammit. A little history: Radio Cab was started by WWII Veterans and it is driver owned and operated. In 1996 they started Radio Cab Foundation. One of their projects “Turkey Project” distributes food boxes to local families. In December 2011 they distributed 1277 food boxes. A cab company with “heart”.
One would be remiss if they didn’t stop at Voodoo Doughnuts. They have amazing variety of awesome doughnuts. My choice was a caramel, chocolate, peanut butter, oreo doughnut. They are open 24/7 and the line is long – 36 minutes in line for me, but worth it
Saturday Market and Willamette River Waterfront
For me the best part of the Market was its location. It’s along the Willamette River waterfront which is a beautiful area. As for the market it’s really just another arts and crafts fair, and after having gone to several this summer in the Twin Cities area I really wasn’t into that.
The waterfront was a different story. Portland is often referred to as the City of Bridges or Bridgetown. Currently there are 11 bridges that span the Willamette River in Portland. They are currently adding a 12th bridge… a 700 foot 12 million dollar pedestrian bridge. “The bridge is undeniably an important link over I-5. Currently, the freeway maroons South Waterfront from the surrounding neighborhoods and cuts off Lair Hill from the water. The city projects that 3,000-4,000 people will walk and bike across the bridge daily by 2035.” Portland seems to have prioritized connecting neighborhoods.
Bridges over the Willamette River, listed north to south:
I had the opportunity to drive by the waterfront when a ship hauling a barge was heading north on the Willamette. It was amazing to watch as the bridges Marquam, Hawthorne, Morrison and Burnside rose to accommodate the ship and then lowered when it had passed.
- St. Johns Bridge (1931) – U.s. Route 30/N Philadelphia Avenue
- Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge 5.1 (1908)
- Fremont Bridge (1973) – Interstate 405
- Broadway Bridge (1913) – Broadway
- Steel Bridge (1912) – Pacific Highway West/former Oregon Route 99W
- Burnside Bridge (1926) – Burnside Street
- Morrison Bridge (1958) – Morrison Street
- Hawthorne Bridge (1910) – Hawthorne Boulevard
- Marquam Bridge (1966) – Interstate 5
- Ross Island Bridge (1922) – U.S. Route 26/Powell Boulevard
- Sellwood Bridge (1925) – SE Tacoma Street
POWELL’S CITY OF BOOKS
If you are a book-lover this is just the place for you. I spent about 3 hours here and didn’t begin to see it all. I could have spent “days” in this place. It covers a whole city block, is 68,000 square feet and has over a million volumes. You will find new books, used books, out-of-print books and hard-to-find titles. There are nine color-coded rooms that house over 3500 different sections. The Purple Room even has an Espresso Book Machine where you can publish your own book “in the time it takes to make a cup of coffee.”
PORTLAND ART MUSEUM
I went to the art museum primarily to see the Cindy Sherman exhibit. Through photography she explores the changing notions of women’s identity in society. There were other excellent exhibits as well including The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece. It featured more than 120 priceless objects from the British Museum’s famed collection of Greek and Roman Art. The Portland Art Museum is very diversified in its exhibits and makes for a delightful afternoon with the Arts.
THE ROSE GARDENS – END OF SEASON
This was quite beautiful despite the fading roses.
PORTLAND VA MEDICAL CENTER
My reason for being in Portland was to see my brother who was in the Portland VA Medical Center. The VA Medical Center and the surrounding buildings turned out to be the surprise of my visit. Sitting atop a hill overlooking Portland is a medical complex that is as breathtaking in design as the view of Portland and the Cascade Range from the Tram atrium.
On top of the hill is located the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children, Oregon Health & Science University, Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and the Portland VA Medical Center. The skywalk from the VA Medical Center to the Oregon Health and Science University is a work of art.
Continue through the Oregon Health and Science University to the Portland Aerial Tram and the atrium for a view of Portland and the Cascade Range. Unfortunately it was overcast, but that did not diminish the amazing view. The Aerial Tram travels a horizontal distance of 3,300 feet and a vertical distance of 500 feet in a ride that lasts three minutes.
The tram was jointly funded by OHSU, the City of Portland, and by South Waterfront property owners, with the bulk of the funding coming from OHSU. It is owned by the city and operated by OHSU. After opening in December 2006, the tram carried its one millionth passenger on October 17, 2007. A round-trip tram ticket costs $4; the tram is free for OHSU employees, patients, students, and visitors. (No, I didn’t take a ride on the tram – saving that for another trip.)Portland is definitely a city I will return to some day. It is a beautiful city with so much to see and so much to do. It is a City that knows how to manage its traffic and public transportation and this makes it very easy to see the sights without the stress of getting from Point A to Point B.