We took a quick trip to Portland for a wedding, and got in some good exploring in a new city.
We stayed at a great downtown hotel called Hotel DeLuxe. It is done up old Hollywood glamour style--lots of marble, gold tapestry, and sparkling chandeliers. Every floor is dedicated to a director or group of directors. We stayed on the 'rebels' floor. It is a gorgeous place.
Driving in Portland was no problem, parking on the other hand was too complicated for us. After lunch, we stuck to walking.
We had lunch at the Bijou Cafe, an all organic bistro:
BVZ had the house specialty, the Bijou Burger....
I had the vegan tomato soup and heirloom salad.
In Washington Park we visited the Japanese Tea Gardens. Unbelievably beautiful and tranquil. It was early on a Friday afternoon and we literally had the place to ourselves. Such a nice change from the SF gardens, where you are elbow to elbow with all of the noisy tourists. The garden is a masterpiece, each plant deliberately placed in the perfect place.
Across from the tea garden is the International Test Rose Garden, where hundreds of varieties of roses are grown with extra loving care. Free to the public, it is a delight to all the senses. Undeterred by the rain, we stopped to smell the roses, and enjoyed hot coffee in a serene, grassy, amphitheater.
After the gardens we gave ourselves a self-guided tour of the heart of Portland, through downtown and along the riverfront. Of course stopping in many of the local pubs along the way.
We ate dinner that night at Clarklewis, a trendy, red brick, exposed kitchen space with modern art and a great wine list.
Dinner was extraordinary, food that rivals anything we've had in San Francisco lately. The perfect piece of salmon...
Chicories salad with dried prosciutto...
Diver scallops in a cucumber medley....
And a mint chocolate plate of heaven.
After dinner, we did some bar hopping and got right in the middle of a block party that was going on outside Powell's bookstore in anticipation of the midnight release of the Harry Potter book.
We ended things back at the hotel, at Gracie's Lounge for a nightcap and some jazz.
Saturday morning was all about exploring our surroundings. We took a great walk to Pioneer Square and beyond, stopping to admire the local art scene...
We found the very popular (ie, hour long wait) Mother's Bistro and Cafe.
Breakfast was outstanding.
On Saturdays and Sundays all of downtown Portland comes together for an open air market. There is beer, meat on a stick, and dozens of local artisans peddling their goods. We got some high grade catnip toys for Loretta from a woman who had spent way too long around high grade catnip.
We ended our afternoon tour of downtown Portland with a stop at Powell's City of Books, a place that restores my faith in humanity. Literally ACRES of books, and books, and more books. You need a GPS device to make it from one end to the other. It is awesome.
Later that evening we met up with the entire VZ clan for cocktails and dinner before heading to the wedding site.
The wedding of BVZ's cousin Lee and his beautiful bride Sarah was lovely and romantic (although you probably can't tell from my horribly blurry pictures). After a touching ceremony, everyone celebrated with dancing and a stellar dessert reception. All in all, a wonderful evening.