17 Jul 2016

Road-trip in Oregon - Portland Part 2

We woke up early again, so headed into downtown Portland to get some breakfast, at the Tasty n Alder café. There was already a little queue outside and we realised that we were so early it wasn't even open yet. Hubby joined the queue while I headed across the road to Heart Coffee to get us something to drink while we waited.

Heart was a lovely little café with pleasant decor, but the service was really slow - there was one woman taking the orders and one guy making the coffee and each drink took him about 5 minutes to make. The woman started my Americano by putting some hot water in a cup which then sat in the queue for 10 minutes until the guy finally added a shot of coffee. There were only two orders in front of me, but the whole thing took more than 15 minutes! By the time I headed back across the road with the luke-warm (but otherwise decent) coffee the doors were opening and soon we were at the head of the queue.

We asked for an outside table, as it was already really hot and at least there was some fresh air outside. We had a nice table in the shade with a view across to the church but none of the atmosphere that the place had inside.

We ordered a selection of dishes - banana and walnut cake, cheesy biscuit with fried chicken, and French toast (super-healthy!). The food was okay, but not nearly as good as the Byways place the previous day - perhaps it was a bit of a victim of its own success. As we'd found the previous day the only coffee on order was drip coffee, which is always disappointing, so we gave that a miss and ordered a spicy Bloody Mary for me and a beer for hubby (breakfast beer) instead.

The plan for the day was to head up to the Japanese Gardens and then explore Nob Hill in the 95 degree heat. The gardens were a bit of a walk uphill from our hotel past some very grand houses in the Goose Hollow area, arriving through the amazing International Rose Test Gardens, which were already teeming with visitors and packed full of brightly-coloured roses.

We walked up through forests to the entrance and paid our entrance fee. There was some construction going on of a new temple, so the place looked a bit unfinished. We ambled through the gardens, with me looking for a Japanese maple tree that I'd seen photographed in the autumn. We passed a cute little koi pool with blue irises along the banks before reaching a zen garden. Just up the hill from there I saw a small squat maple tree. I stuck the camera underneath it and realised that it was the tree I'd been looking for - only it was about a tenth of the size I'd thought it would be! I lay on the ground and propped the camera up to try to capture the amazing swirly branches. It was a little challenging! Hubby wandered off but eventually re-appeared. It was a very peaceful park in spite of the visitors and the road roaring past in the distance.

We left the garden, wandered back through the rose garden, noticing that we could just make out Mount Hood in the distance. 

We headed down onto the street towards NW 23rd Avenue, which runs through the heart of the Nob Hill district. It's a cool little area, with pretty wooden houses set back from the tree-lined road and dotted with nice shops and cafés; it reminded me a bit of Boulder (Colorado) or Berkeley (California), but without the students.

We stopped in a shop for me to buy a new bikini before looking for somewhere to eat. The woman in the store had recommended a Mexican place - Matador, so we headed there. It was the usual Tex-Mex style Mexican, with huge quantities of fresh chips and salsa to welcome you. We tried a couple of new beers and ordered some enchilladas and pork tacos - all pleasant enough, if a little greasy and mushy.

We decided to head back into town, not really knowing what we'd do next - just wander around the city a little more. The weather was still unbearably hot, so probably not the best conditions for the amount of walking we were doing. We walked down a few rather sketchy streets as we crossed back into the Pearl District.

We both felt really dehydrated - the beer probably hadn't been a great idea - but we carried on back into town, heading towards Chinatown to check out if there was anything to see. There wasn't really - it wasn't the nicest of Chinatowns I'd seen, and still felt a little sketchy. We realised that we were close to the Voodoo Doughnut place, so decided to pop in there, if the queue wasn't too big. There were only a few people in the line outside, but there was absolutely no shade and the line wasn't moving and I just couldn't bear to stand out in the afternoon sun. Instead we continued on towards the waterfront park, down Ankeny Street. The area was suddenly bustling and far nicer than the roads that had led us there! Just as we entered the park we found a water seller and sat in the shade to rehydrate. Sitting on the wall next to us was an English couple from Clapham who were driving from Seattle to San Diego, who were enjoying a couple of the famous Voodoo Doughnuts (it is a bit of a thing to do while in Portland, so at least we got to see some!).

After we felt a little better from the water we continued on along the waterfront. The park was closed off for a funfair and a music concert, but the promenade was open, and the Willametter River was full of pleasure boats. I noticed a section of one of the bridges was rising in the distance to let a tug-boat pushing a large barge down-river pass underneath.

We walked back towards the hotel, needing a break from the heat. Families played around in a fountain. We passed a sign confirming that it was 94 degrees F - way too hot for sightseeing!

After a good few glasses of water back at the hotel, some internet time and catching sunset out of the window, we headed out again back towards Pearl.

We went to the Deschutes Brewery where we ate some salmon salad, accompanied by a beer sample tray. Again, we were a little disappointed with the beer - none of it was really doing it for us. We still felt pretty sleepy so called it a day and headed back to the Deluxe for an early night.

Click here for my blog from Portland - Part 1
Click here for my blog from Mount St. Helens & Astoria

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