It's raining lightly when I pull into downtown a little after 6 p.m. on Friday. That's why we have raincoats, right?
I'm staying tonight at the Hotel Monaco, just a couple blocks from the Willamette River and a block from Pioneer Square in the heart of downtown. Great location. I manage to find a meter spot on the street a couple blocks away, where I can park until 8 a.m. tomorrow morning and avoid expensive overnight parking garage fees.
As I walk into the vibrantly colored hotel lobby, someone is playing the baby grand piano with a fast-paced flourish. A group is clustered in big chairs by the fireplace with a couple dogs in tow. I feel like I've just walked into someone's stylish, spacious, comfy home.
|Hotel Monaco's inviting lobby|
My wild prawns are huge, sweet, and succulent, and the side of broccoli is steamed to perfection. My sister's Kobe beef potstickers and blackened steelhead salad are equally divine. While I'm full, she indulges in a lovely berry cobbler a la mode baked in its own little cup. It disappears quickly.
After a nice dinner, I leave my dining companions to go meet a friend for a movie at the Living Room Theaters just a couple blocks away. Think modern, sophisticated, small-scale multiplex with state-of-the art equipment. Want a glass of wine or Scotch with the movie along with your freshly popped and exquisitely spiced popcorn? A sleek bar/lounge fronts the theaters, where you can go for a drink even if you don't catch a film there.
Later as we're walking back to the hotel to relax and talk, I have to stop and take a sip of pure, sweet Bull Run water at one of downtown Portland's vintage drinking fountains. I loved these when I was a kid, too, when the thought of buying bottled water seemed silly and bizarre.
|Downtown Portland's historic "Benson's bubblers" drinking fountains|
For breakfast we wander a couple blocks over to Mother's and beat the Saturday morning crowds by getting there around 8:30. Bill Clinton smiles at us from a framed photograph at the front counter, arms around whom I assume is Mother's chef or owner. Mother's feels like Grandma's sorta fancy parlor. With my restricted diet right now, the personable waiter accomodates my special order without a blink (two eggs scrambled in olive oil with spinach and mushrooms, very tasty) . This is Portland(ia) after all.
|Dine under the chandeliers at Mother's Bistro and Bar|
Walking back to the hotel, we pass some of Portland's historic old buildings, like the Bishop House across the street from Mother's and the Dekum.
"Hey, I remember that building," says my sister as we stop to take a picture. "I used to pick up antiwar leaflets in an office there to distribute when I was in high school."
|The Bishop's House|
Since my time is running out, I scoot uptown to spend an hour browsing at Powell's Books on the edge of the Pearl. Today I walk out with just two new books, which isn't bad for me. At noon it's time to depart. Just a quick dip into all the exploring, shopping, dining, browsing to be done here in perfectly progressive Portland.
What are you favorite things to do in downtown Portland?