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Sleeping Around, Getting Around

Friday 10 September 2010

We wanted the Portland experience, which might include sleeping under the Morrison Bridge for completists.

We are more, ah, wimpy than that, so we actually stayed in a hotel. After much research, debate, discussion, soul-searching (okay, okay, went too far there), we settled on The Heathman Hotel in SW Downtown. To be clear, I settled on it; herself’s response to questions about hotels ranges from “sure!” through “that sounds nice” and all the way into “okay”.

How did I wind up on The Heathman? I’d like to say that it was a complex process, but really, too many other hotels had comments about noisy rooms and halls, which is an immediate down-check for me. Also, it was where Anthony Bourdain stayed (claims to have stayed) for his No Reservations episode that featured Portland. Much of this trip was, in fact, inspired by that episode and a few other Food TV shows that featured Portland.

Also, it’s centrally located for transit and walking. There’s a really cool iPhone app called PDXBus that is very helpful in planning transit-based trips, finding bus and train arrivals based on GPS-derived location, etc.

Oh, and did I mention, The Heathman is haunted? Yes, apparently rooms ending in 03 (we were in 1002, by chance, on the top floor) have had a ghostly visitor over the years. We saw no spooks, nor heard chains clanking or other spectral scenes, although the HVAC system was a bit noisier than I like. Still, a very attractive room with a king bed, sitting area, and two full bathrooms. Service was prompt and efficient, just the way we like it. We had to leave some bags on our last day after check-out, and they had baggage claim tags (some hotels don’t, and it can lead to unfortunate badness as we found out a few years ago–but that’s another story).

As I mentioned, it’s very close to the Max (light rail) lines at Pioneer Square, and also close to the bus lines into South East Portland. Most of downtown is a “free ride” zone on light rail. An adult day pass for all zones, all the way from Hillsboro to Gresham, train or bus, is only $4.75, which beats the heck out of valet parking charges or taxis. It’s also about a block from the South Park Blocks, a line of 12 one square block parks that run north from the middle of PSU. Each has its own character and design; they are not just cookie-cutter copies of each other.

The Max is a really nice light rail system that appears to actually be used (unlike light rail in the Bay Area). Big windows almost to the floor and way above head height make for a very open, well-lit compartment (forget re-creating the El scene from Risky Business.) Mostly clean seats and floors. Buses and trains have sidewalk-level floors for the most part, so it’s much easier to get on and off than most buses (no drop to the ground). It would be interesting to get an apartment for a month or so and see how it works not to have a car in Portland–I expect it would be a reasonably pleasant experience (better than trying to use a car in San Francisco, for instance).

More later, mostly food.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. cynthia permalink
    Saturday 11 September 2010 7:37 AM

    i always wondered about the old heathman. have had high tea there and that’s about it. love the doorman of course!

    looking forward to the food installments!

    • Saturday 11 September 2010 3:56 PM

      Technically, afternoon tea. Afternoon tea is formal tea, with ladies in tea gloves and tiny sandwiches and pastries. High tea is an informal meal eaten around 5PM, often served with cold meats, eggs, and other, heavier fare. “High” refers to it being served on a dining table, which is tall, rather than a low tea table. Afternoon tea is sometimes referred to as low tea, again referring to the table height.

      This is a pet peeve of mine, and I have no idea why. Sorry you wandered into my crosshairs on this one.

      I liked the doorman, but the guys serving in that role were very young and not into it. They need an older guy with a beard and mustache (both grey, of course).

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