Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging 6

The cats were so happy to see us back. Now they can go outside to the patio. They didn't miss their beloved humans, but our ability to open doors.

Twice in the latest Sacramento News and Review it was suggested that Sacramento had "world class city" potential because it possessed this or that. Sacramento will never be a world class city--not in dreams, not in a parallel universe, not ever. Just ain't gonna happen.

Neither will Portland, even though Portland has some things Sacramento doesn't, and those things make Portland a more interesting place to live. First Portland was created by cutting down forest, so it's surrounded by the remaining forest. Portland has excellent downtown transportation and a reason (shopping) to go downtown. Residents and tourists can travel free through most of downtown free, yes, free. But once you get out of downtown, and particularly in the southeast part of the city, you need a car. There are too few bus lines and the buses appear too infrequently to be useful for daily transit.

In addition, because the light-rail and streetcar systems work on the honor system (you get on without having to pay a fare or show a ticket), it's easy for the transit police to discriminate in checking tickets. We saw young, nonwhite and apparently poorer citizens being stopped by transit police at the stations outside the free fare area and asked to produce proof of payment. I probably could have traveled for years without being asked to produce a ticket.

Portlanders also dress better than Sacramentans. While Portland is as casual as Sacramento in dress, fewer people think that warm weather requires shorts and flip-flops. That doesn't mean that they dress up; they don't. It's just that their casual is better than Sacramento's casual.

Downtown Portland has most of the same shopping that you'll find anywhere--shopping has become very homogenized throughout the country. You'll find Macy's, Nordstrom's, Sak's etc. in a downtown mall that looks very much like the Westfield Mall in San Francisco (although it's actually owned by Clear Channel). And of course there was Cinnabon at the food court. We did find The Real Mother Goose, a craft store with some of the most expensive crafts around. Beautiful, but very expensive.

And of course, we made an expedition to Powell's Books, where I discovered that I could purchase as much as I wanted and have it shipped home. The staff there is used to book tourists and was immensely helpful. But even an entire day wouldn't be enough to skim their collection. Powell's has an outpost out on Hawthorne, which we visited, but it was nothing like the downtown store and really isn't worth the time.

Another find was the Saturday Portland Farmer's Market at Portland State University. Food vendors of all kinds--fruits and vegies, meat, fish, baked goods...And also reasonably good music. We stayed for about three hours and could have stayed longer, but we then took ourselves off to the Portland Saturday Market, which was not worth the trouble. Okay crafts, but nothing spectacular, and some of the jewelry was positively cheap-y. It was also 95 degrees and muggy.

And we went to the Pearl District, a redeveloped industrial area, which is now filled with some overpriced shops, a few decent, but not spectacular restaurants, a lot of condominiums and, of course, given the present economic situation, a growing number of empty storefronts. I read the local paper every day, and got the sense that Oregonians were surprised that the Great Slump was happening to them too. The Pearl District, though, is in less bad shape than the South Waterfront, where a number of projects are either in or heading for foreclosure.

And the South Waterfront was just kind of weird. We walked along a river trail and were suddenly deposited in what appeared to be a mall. It reminded me of the Grand Canyon where a walk along the canyon rim suddenly deposits you, with no warning, in a tourist district sort of like San Francisco's Pier 39.

More later.

1 comment:

Ann Owens said...

Sounds like you really enjoyed your trip. Where is Portland in relation to Eugene? My brother went to law school in Eugene.