Friday, August 14, 2009

First impressions of Portland

Beyond the industrial edge of railway yards and space-centre-like gas plants, Portland seduced me as I knew it would. Cyclists everywhere, beautiful old buildings, a bustling real farmers' market (local produce, wine, preserves, very temping baked goods).

The Natural Capital Centre (or Ecotrust) sat beside the markets in a grand, gold LEED-rated refurbished wharehouse. Adapted 10 years ago, it is still a thriving and up-to-date mecca: cafes, resource libraries, information centres and a Patagonia store. I'll be back in the morning.

Riding through busy main streets, filled with jammed but courteous-to-cyclists car commuters, I had the strong feeling I may need more than the planned 2 days to get to know the city better.

We had a longer ride than needed east to our Warm Showers hosts, Kate and Winslow (below), as I'd mislocated their block on the long, gridded streets. This gave us a chance to see the thriving Hawthorne Street, brimming with enticing shops, cafes and restaurants, bars, bike shops and groovy locals and too many cars. A dangerous combination and marked as such on Portland's cycling maps.

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