Showing posts with the label Portland

Powell’s City of Books

Today the Pacific Northwest finally lived up to its reputation, as it rained all day. You won’t hear me complain -I’m happy as can be that I got two days to enjoy the city at my leisure and that I was able to stroll around both the Japanese and Chinese gardens in good weather. Besides, I had already planned for this eventuality, by leaving all of this morning to explore the last major Portland institution that I had left on my list: Powell’s City of Books.
Powell’s, as they merrily inform you and as you’ll readily believe, is the world’s biggest independent new/used bookstore. Next to the entrance there are unfoldable maps just so you won’t get lost!

It is hard to overstate just how enormous this place is. Pictures cannot do it justice because the bookshelves prevent you from capturing an entire room in one shot. To give you at least an approximation, each separate section at Powell’s is large enough that it would be a very complete bookstore on its own, and there are EIGHT such section…

The Portland Art Museum, the Lan Su Chinese Garden

Good morning, Portland! Even though the forecast said that it was going to rain forever, it’s been dry today, and I even saw the sun a little bit. It’s such a relief to be able to be outside, after the biting Chicago cold!

I began the day by walking south to the Portland Art Museum, which has a wing dedicated to ancient Asian art. Before researching this trip I wasn’t aware that there was so much Chinese and Japanese art in the Pacific Northwest, but if you think about it, this part of the US has always been directly accessible by sea from China and Japan across the ocean. Sure enough, in this museum they have plenty of statues, vases and funerary items that are almost two thousand years old, as well as more modern hanging scrolls and calligraphy. 

They also have multiple galleries focused on Native American art, with historical artefacts but also contemporary paintings and compositions. There’s a small section for European Impressionism too, where I was surprised to find a Van Gogh and…

Arrival in Portland: the Japanese Garden

It’s travelling time! Today I had to leave our Chicago apartment at an unspeakable hour, because I was due on the 10:00 plane, and I hadn’t accounted for the hour and a half the trip would take me (it’s around 45 min just from downtown Chicago to O’Hare, and you have to get there first).
It’s a long flight, four hours and change, although part of it is offset by Portland being two hours behind in terms of timezones. The first impression I got from the plane was that the city is surrounded by wilderness: from the sky I saw a very mountainous landscape, vast stretches of forested mointains and rivers that seemed mostly untouched by civilization. When I got off the plane at the airport, all the shops and cafés seemed Oregonian, as opposed to the multinationals you see in most airports; or at least, they all had “Oregonian” in the name! And the airport buildings had trees on the street and plants hanging from the parking floors. It’s probably confirmation bias, but I took them all as the f…