Our trip to Portland and Seattle was partly business and partly leisure. Soam’s company is in Seattle, so he had to go there for work and we thought of combining it with Portland, a city we always wanted to visit. This trip was also part of Soam’s birthday celebration!
To spice up the vacation, we decided to take Amtrak from San Francisco to Portland and then to Seattle. This was my first train travel in the US and it was a great experience. Aside from the small room sizes and overall cramped quarters, the train had some wonderful features like the dinning car, the observatorium and the lounge car. They served tasty freshly cooked food on the train and not the frozen/microwaved crap you get on planes. However, the check-in facility at San Francisco was very dirty and outdated. The staff didn’t seem very professional either. However, the business class coach on Cascades (part of Amtrak) from Portland to Seattle was much more spacious.
Portland is a big city with all the benefits of a small town. It has great restaurants, shops, offices, museums, quite a good nightlife and a very good public transportation system. Not to mention, possibly the best book store in the country — Powell’s Books! At the same time, it’s not very crowded and people are super friendly. We found people going out of their way to be nice to us. As usual Virj got a lot of attention and surprisingly so did we. Well, I got hit upon a lot but in a nice way (sometimes even in the presence of Soam? 🙂 Maybe something to do with the relative lack of diversity? Our hotel was very centrally located and we walked to most places or took advantage of their public transportation. Oh and did I mention that things were very affordable there? Not having to pay sales tax makes a huge difference!
Seattle was quite another story though. Well, I always liked Seattle before so I won’t hold against it just based on this trip. I think it was high season for tourists and everything was very crowded. Our hotel was full of rude mid-westerners. But other than that I enjoyed hanging around Pike Market, Pioneer Square and the waterfront. Seattle is certainly much more diverse than Portland and has more of the big city feel to it — noise of sires and cars honking with loads of people on the streets!
The weather was perfect all throughout, though a little cooler than in San Francisco. Virj had a cold and was more fussy than usual. We also realized the difficulties of traveling with a very active toddler…there were times when Soam said that his actual vacation would begin when he went to work or we got back home and started our normal schedule. I’m sure parents of small kids will understand what that means. It was very overwhelming at times but we still managed to have a lot of fun! Here are some pics to prove that. Hopefully!