Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Day in Portland

I have never been to Portland before, but got a chance to go last week for this year's Grace Hopper Conference. My impressions of Portland (at least, the downtown area), were of a small, dense urban center well-connected by cheap (read: free) public transit and full of beautiful greenery.  The weather was quite good for so late in the fall too, and the colours were gorgeous:

Beautiful fall colour display outside the convention center.
Oregon Convention Center.
Here's a few of things I managed to fit into my one non-conference day.

A small corner of Powell's Books
in Downtown Portland.
Powell's City of Books
My first stop of the day was at Powell's City of Books.  If you love books and/or spending time browsing bookstores, you will adore this place!  It's so big it takes up an entire city block, with a smaller additional building the next block over, and requires a detailed map to navigate!

Decorative column at the
entrance of Powell's books.
I was delighted to find the most Jack Vance books I've ever seen in any one location at once, and the copy of "Tales of the Dying Earth" I've been hunting far and wide for.  In the Graphic Novels section, I also found a copy of "The Complete Maus" by Art Spiegelman, and in the section for Technical Books I found a copy of "Logicomix", which I'd heard about when it first came out and then promptly forgotten.  Check out the 'trailer' (actually, a short film showing how the authors collaborated on the story) for the book here.  I'm already about half way through the book and am really enjoying it.

Luckily I only had an hour and a half to spend in Powell's, or they would have taken much more of my money I'm sure!  I'll definitely be back some day soon.

Portland Saturday Market
Entrance to the Portland Saturday Market.
Next it was off to meet with my friend and grad-school lab-mate Ming Hua and some of her colleagues from Facebook.  We headed to the Portland Saturday Market to grab some food from Portland's famed food trucks and check out the local goods.

We had yakisoba noodles, terriyaki and rice while a band played an impressive 8-person xylophone tune:

Ming at the Saturday Market.
The wares at the market were unique and interesting, from 'log soap' to animal puppets to beautiful hand-crafted wood items (puzzles, jewelry boxes, and toys).

Shopping and Eats in Downtown Portland
Downtown Portland has plenty of small boutiques, large department stores like Nordstrom, and chain stores like Banana Republic.  After wearing ourselves out shopping we headed to the happy hour at the Brasserie Montmartre.  The food was delicious and we had mussels, pommes rites, and my all-time favorite, frogs legs!  It was a perfect snack on a rainy afternoon just before my train ride back to Seattle.

Me at Brasserie Montmartre.

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