Saturday, June 6, 2015

Amtrak Adventure - Day 22 - Portland and Roses

Day 22 started off with a little history at the Oregon History Museum. There was no mistaking the building as the exterior walls are decorated with embossed murals depicting the pioneers.

The museum is small but very well organized, starting with details of the lives of the  various tribes that inhabited the state and continuing on to describe the arrival of the pioneers and the impact their settlements had on the indigenous people. There were plenty of informative placards describing the hardships and challenges the settlers faced – while I like to think I’m adventurous, I’m not sure I would be brave enough to set out on an expedition into the unknown as they did.

My favorite exhibit was the covered wagon – I’d always thought they were used primarily for carrying baggage, but apparently some of them were furnished to provide a home away from home!

There was also a short movie available about the development of maps of the area. Competition among European countries was so intense that the Spanish refused to mark places they had discovered on maps so that no-one else knew of their existence. Queen Elizabeth I went one step further and apparently told her cartographers to make incorrect maps in order to confuse other nations!

On previous train trips every time we mentioned we had Portland on our itinerary we were told that we should make sure to see the Rose Garden in Washington Park. After our morning in the museum we decided an afternoon in the park sounded like a good idea. The park itself is enormous, with over 15 miles of trails, and is also home to a Japanese Garden, a World Forestry Center and Portland’s children’s museum.

Just inside the entrance is a memorial to Lewis and Clark.


And also one to Sagajawea, the only woman in the Lewis and Clark expedition.

The  International Rose Test Garden, to give the place its full name, deserves all the accolades it receives. I have never seen so many roses in one place – 10,000 blooms according to the guides. Just walking among the profusion of color and inhaling the scent is divine. 

To add to the bliss were the wonderful sounds of an Irish harpist and singer.

To round off our day, we set off for Alberta Street, across the river in the NE district of Portland, which we had heard was a stretch of unconventional shops and restaurants. Vibrant murals decorate the side streets as part of an approved community program.

Among the many cafes, bars and restaurants, ranging from snack bars to fine dining, we found the Bollywood Theatre, a quirky Indian restaurant.

Despite the relatively early hour the place was packed – always a good sign – and we were not disappointed by our choices of Paneer Makhani and Chicken Biryani.

Verdict: Feeling much more positive about Portland after today’s sightseeing, although it still won’t make my list of places I would want to revisit.

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