Portland's Aerial Tram (photo taken August 2010 by F. Niro)
Whether you live in the area or are visiting Portland in order to play in the Portland Chess Club Centennial tournament, there are lots of fun and interesting things to do. My goal is to offer some options that you might not ordinarily think about or see in the common travel guides. You will find that Portland is one of the easiest cities to navigate on foot, by bike, public transportation or in your car. So, based on my five years living in the Great Northwest (2006-2011), here are my recommendations:
1. Ride the Tram - Portland's Aerial Tram, opened in 2007, is a public transportation link connecting Marquam Hill and OHSU with South Waterfront. Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) is a public university in Oregon with a main campus, including two hospitals. The Tram cabins travel 3,300 linear feet between the South Waterfront terminal adjacent to the OHSU Center for Health & Healing, and the upper terminal at the Kohler Pavilion on OHSU's main campus. Traveling at 22 miles per hour, the Tram cabins rise 500 feet for the three-minute trip over I-5, the Lair Hill neighborhood and the Southwest Terwilliger Parkway.
2. Visit Geezer Gallery - The Geezer Gallery, opened in 2010, is a Gallery that is defining a whole new old for the elder community. Located in the Loaves & Fishes building in the Multnomah section of the city, the Geezer Gallery has been a supporter of chess activities during the past two years including the 2011 Oregon Senior Open. The Geezer Gallery is generally open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the day and the first Friday evening of each month. Check the website (link above) for details.
3. Walk along the Willamette - The west side of the Willamette river (pronounced "Will"-"Lam"-"Ett", with emphasis on the second syllable) is as beautiful as it is walkable. You can enter the main trail in downtown Portland along the waterfront (!) or a few miles South at the Sellwood Bridge (or most anywhere in between). In my opinion, the walk is pleasant (and mostly flat) all along the trail.
While a bit outside the city, my favorite spots to walk along the river are at George Rogers Park in Lake Oswego and Mary S. Young Park in West Linn.
George Rogers Park is the original site of the The 1866 blast furnace built by the Oregon Iron Co. in old Oswego, where officials dreamed of the city's becoming the "Pittsburgh of the West". The first iron furnace on the Pacific Coast, it supplied pig iron to West Coast foundries between 1867 and 1885. Recently renovated, the furnace still stands in the park.
Click here for a trail map of Mary S. Young Park.
4. Shop at Powell's - To quote Andy F., a recent visitor from Worcester, Mass... "One of the greatest bookstores on the planet. Don't come here if you need to be somewhere later in the day because this is the kind of place you browse endlessly."
And, believe me, I have done that...just in the chess section alone! Powell's is located at 1005 W Burnside St, right in the middle of downtown Portland.
5. Take the Oregon City elevator - The Oregon City Municipal Elevator is a 130-foot elevator which connects two neighborhoods in Oregon City. It is the only outdoor municipal elevator in the US and one of only four in the world. The upper portion contains an observation deck which accounts for its flying saucer appearance (source: wikipedia)
When leaving the elevator at the upper level, you can walk along the promenade and view Willamette Falls, a natural waterfall on the Willamette River between Oregon City and West Linn. It is the largest waterfall in the Pacific Northwest.Upper promenade overlooking the river in Oregon City
If you are there on a Tuesday evening after 7 pm, walk a few blocks to the Pioneer Senior Center and the Oregon City/West Linn Chess Club . Enter from the basement entrance off Washington Street. Both the elevator and the Pioneer Center are wheelchair accessible.
From the lower lever of the municipal elevator, you MUST walk over and stop in at Winestock. It's only 1/4 mile around the corner. The reviews speak for themselves. A charming little wine bar in an historic old mill city with wonderful owners. If you stop in, Please tell Sarrah and Carlos that Tash & I sent you.
6. Dine Out - These are our favorite restaurants in the area:
a. Oswego Grill, off I-5 at Rte. 217 and soon adding a second restaurant in Wilsonville.
b. Chart House Steakhouse, high on a hill overlooking the city. The last time we ate there the Boston Celtics basketball team had just left following their game with the Portland Trailblazers. Now, that's an endorsement!
c. Paley's Place, all the restaurant reviews and guides will tell you that this is the best restaurant in Portland (with good reason). Great for special occasions, but you had better make reservations way in advance, especially on weekends.
Or, if you are just in the mood for pizza, here is my daughter Elizabeth's recommendation.
7. Play Chess - The Portland Chess club is 100 years old (but not always in the same location). Visit the club and see if you can find the Key to the city of Crossville, Tennessee, hanging among the fascinating chess memorabilia on the walls (my favorite is the photo of Reuben Fine in disquise during a simul at the club). Check the web site for hours and events.
8. Say a prayer for those you love - I can't do this without mentioning our wonderful church home. It is one of the things we miss the most since we moved away from Oregon! Pay Father Bruce a visit; you will most certainly be glad you did.
9. Make a winery tour in the Yamhill Valley - Our favorite Oregon winery is Eola Hills, about 10 miles west of Salem just off of state route 22. But you can't go wrong anywhere in the Yamhill Valley.
10. Explore the Columbia Gorge to Maryhill - The best way to cover the most ground and still take in the sights is to go west along I-84 until you get to Biggs, OR, around mile marker 104. Cross over the bridge into Goldendale, WA, and stop at the Maryhill Museum of Art.
Drive back along Rte. 14 on the Washington side. It's a slower trip home, but the views are spectacular, especially the views of Mount Hood on a clear day. Bring your camera!Part of the unexpectedly amazing chess exhibit at the Maryhill Museum of Art in Washington state.
OK, that's it for trying to be tour guide. Now I'm heading out to put my Tournament Director hat on. Perhaps I will see you this weekend at the Doubletree in Lloyd Center. If you can't make, please follow along on this blog.