A tale of two cities, continued

Today we have homework for the reader. Prepare pen and paper. Write a 300 word essay describing your favorite city or town. What did you write? What did you point out for the unfortunate person that doesn't know your city? We are facing just such a dilema here at The View. How to describe Portland in a few pithy, yet juicy paragraphs?

I have had only three days to get a feel for this city (unlike Seattle, where I lived for many years), so decided to throw caution to the wind and describe only the few places that I found interesting. There are undoubtedly things and places of far greater value, but here is what I have discovered.

As mentioned in yesterday's post, this is an economically thriving city. Old buildings survive in great numbers, and most are in use. All the shopping one needs to do is here – no need to get into a car in order to visit a nasty suburban mall surrounded by a wasteland of parking lots. So you don't want to walk? Then ride the wonderful MAX system of lightrail trains. I bought an all day pass today for a mere $5.00. It enabled me to reach the suburbs in order to visit a friend, as well as to buzz around town on the trolley. This is a city that has figured out mass transit.

As a tourist, I did gawk at a few things. These include:

Bridges over the Wilamette River, including the Steel Bridge. Be careful if you take photos here – highly serious cyclists and joggers chastise those who don't hustle along (me included).

Portland's Steel Bridge

Steel Bridge pedestrian walkway

Impressive architectural detail on the older buildings.

What I found most memorable about the city (in my short time here) were the Portland Art Museum, and the Chinese Garden. China Town, itself, was a very small area with very little going on. If you are familiar with the big, thriving China towns of Yokohama or San Fransisco, Portland's will come as a big disappointment. However, there is an absolutely fabulous Chinese garden to visit instead. I spent nearly two hours there, enjoying and photographing the garden, as well as enjoying a rest in the tea house, serenaded by a professional erhu player. Views of the garden:

My other favorite spot was the Portland Art Museum. I allotted three hours to see it, but ran out of time before it closed. If, like me, you like to savor the art, read the descriptions, and photograph it, you will need at least four hours to do it justice. Even though I was in a tizzy toward the end, I managed to find quite a few objects I would gladly take home, were they offered. These include:

Morris Graves: Portrait of Bill Cumming

Ernest Wilhelm Nay: Rythmische Imagination

George Morris: Composition With Stripes

Alfred Maurer: George Washington

Carol Hepper: Standing X

Other places to be checked out if staying in the city for any length of time: the Pearl District (brew pubs, outdoor shops, art stores, coffee shops, etc), and Powell's Bookstore (surely one of the best I've ever seen). I have another half day left to enjoy, so look forward to new discoveries before returning to Tacoma in the afternoon.

To close today's post, and to satisfy the curiosity of the legions of faithful readers, I share a photo. It is of the entire editorial staff and advisory board of The View from Tokyo.

(left: Mr. David Perrine, faithful reader and oldest friend of the editor in chief; right: the Editorial Staff. It should be noted that at meetings of the board – and there has only been one – the “my wife” of Mr. DP, Lynne, serves an excellent spread of Korean food. For your information and edification, said meal is shown below.)



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