Portland was a lot of fun and more than enough city for a whole week of exploring. We did a lot of walking and used the public transportation a bit which is outstanding. Keep in mind that when inside the “Fareless Square” there is no fee to ride the MAX. Heck, in hindsight we even considered that it might have been a good idea to take the MAX from the airport to the hotel and save a few days on our rental car and parking.
We visited the Japanese & Rose Test Gardens by taking the train to the station just below Washington Park, and then walking up to the gardens. The locals seemed to think this was a little odd (it’s a quite a steep climb) and had a hard time giving us directions, but we found our way. From the Rose Test Garden you can take a narrow gauge antique train to the zoo. We have a zoo membership in Boston so our zoo fare was free and the train was only $7 for the three of us.
The Rose Test Garden didn’t do much for me, but the Japanese Garden is outstanding. Say it with me…outstanding. It’s the real thing. Amazing craftsmanship of the buildings throughout the site and the flora is mind bending. If it’s a clear day this is one of the best shots you can get of Mt. Hood.
The zoo is definitely worth seeing. I was a big fan of the sea lions, otters and bears. Nice exhibits. Yes, my daughter liked it too. My favorite part was the subway station when you leave the park, though. It’s more than 500 ft under ground and in a tube. You can feel the train pushing air into the station long before it ever arrives and there is a core sample of earth mounted on the wall in a plexiglass tube with the chronology of mankind marked on the wall. I was really tripped out by this- did you know ketchup was around in 300 B.C.?
The Classical Chinese Garden is a must see. Have some tea in the teahouse, and then check out the rest of Old Town. You may notice a shady character here and there but for the most part I don’t think they’ll bother you.