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Portland Seattle 2006
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
For a Christmas/Birthday present, I bought Ilaria a ticket to Seattle (Ilaria's birthday isn't too far from Christmas). So she wouldn't be lonely, I bought myself a ticket too :). Why Seattle? Jetblue had a non-stop there in February (definitely not peak Seattle tourist season) for only 180 dollars. That's a long haul for such a good price, so we rolled the dice on the chance of nasty touristing weather.
qwest Field
Our plane was extremely delayed from Boston. We arrived at 2:30AM Seattle time; built a nice bed in our arrival terminal (to avoid paying for a hotel room for just a few hours); got kicked out of the terminal (it was closing); went to sleep in the main terminal; and finally woke up to catch the first bus into Seattle at 5AM-ish.
qwest Field 2
After picking up breakfast at a classic coffee shop, we went to the train station where we caught the first (surprisingly crowded) train for Portland, OR. We figured Portland was so close, why not see two cities in one trip. Plus there was a big jazz feast in Portland that weekend.
boeing seattle
We left the home of Boeing (Boeing currently has over 60,000 employees in Washington)
on a train ride that showcased
cascades 2
the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. On the train, we sat next to a little Indian boy (4-5 yr old) with a remarkable ability to name the make and model of almost every car passing by.
J portland
We arrived in Portland, having slept an hour or so on the train and only 2 hours or so the night before, and we immediately took the subway almost as far as we could take it. We got off in a station under the mountain that looks down on Portland (where the rich folk live) and took a really fast elevator to get out of the inside of this mountain.
portland residential
I wanted to go on a trail that was some sorta arboretum thing with rare trees. That's why we're in this random residential neighborhood, the trail is supposed to start somewhere around here. I'm not really into trees, and if I had to do it over again, I would definitely forget my obsession with taking this stupid trail.
mt hood
We also went up to this mountain spot, because we heard that's where the best view of Mt Hood behind Portland was.
mt hood 2
As far as the nice view goes, we were successful.
ilaria portland
But as you can see, it was getting dark. It was very cold up there; Ilaria was afraid we'd get stuck in the woods at dark; we were both tired; my happy girl started to unwind; slowly, eh, ah, no, don't,
ilaria portland mad
Bam! I'm in trouble.
ilaria portland mad 2
Not only is she really mad, she's really tired, and really cold. This was about as close as I could get to her for quite a while. She just started walking and didn't want any part of me.
ilaria portland mad 3
Despite being surrounded by houses, we were very alone up there. Our only hope was to NOT miss the last bus home. We both had slight fears of freezing there. Our not taking the previous bus home because I wanted to take that trail is what led to this mess, so it was very important to me that the last bus actually show up!
ilaria portland mad 4
At least we got some nice photos while we were up there.

The bus showed up. We went to the hotel and took a nap (even though Ilaria didn't want to, I think this was one decision I got correct). And then we went out that nite for some dinner and jazz.
The next day we learned that Portland is pretty dead on Sundays.
portland sculpture
But we also find a real treasure,
portland powells
Powell's Books.
portland powells 2
It's enormous, has new books and used books, all cheaper than retail price. It's similar to Strand books in NYC, minus all the crowds and the bitchy New Yorkers. Best big book store I've ever been to.
portland powells loot
We didn't calculate a massive book influx in our luggage planning. Thankfully Ilaria is a packing wizard.
portland train station
But quick, we gotta get to our main destination, Seattle, before our vacation is over. Well, Amtrak is not quick. Northeastern Corridor, ticketless high-class travel is not to be found in the Pacific Northwest. Wait, and at the end of the line, someone with a pen and a sheet of paper wil write down a seat assignment for you.
portland hood
Goodbye Mt. Hood.
portland rushmore
Goodbye Mt. St Helen (sorry, this is the best picture I could get from our moving train).
Hello, Seattle.
ilaria Fireman
We walked from the station towards our hotel. Although you can't see them, this picture was taken in a homeless hangout park. They really enjoyed trying to figure out what Ilaria was doing. Seattle and Portland both are filled with homeless people (much more than in Boston). The average age also is much younger; I'd guess around 25 or so.
pioneer Square
Pioneer Square, with its famous Totem Pole, is considered the birthplace of Seattle.
seattle 2
seattle market
Seattle has one of the most famous markets in the US. It is packed with tourists most of the day.
seattle market 2
It is also very easy
seattle market 3
to take nice pictures of.
seattle hotel moore
We finally arrived at the Hotel Moore. It was a simple, clean enough hotel
seattle hotel moore 2
with a little old, hotel charm.
seattle hotel moore 3
It was cheap and had a good view. I recommend it to you.
seattle nite
We went for to an expensive seafood dinner, walked around the city, and saw the Jetson's house.
seattle euler
The next morning the view from the hotel allowed me to see this tribute to Euler.
seattle market 4
We stopped by the market for some breakfast, couldn't find anything, and ended up with some crumpets.
seattle space needle
The space needle
seattle monorail
and the monorail were built in Seattle for the 1962 World's Fair. Unfortunately, the monorail was broken when we were there.
seattle emp
I wanted to see the Experience Music Project.
seattle emp 2
The crazy building housing the museum was designed by Frank O. Gehry. I like most of what he does, but this particular building feels a little too much on the disneyland side of things for my taste.
seattle emp 3
This guitar sculpture made me sad when I first saw it. But when I got up close and saw the guitars were almost all really low-quality ones, I decided sculpture is a good use for crappy guitars. Overall, the museum is great for hendrix and dylan, but the breadth of collection is much better at the Music Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH, which I went to on a road trip in high school with my old friends Bart and Justin.
seattle library
The Seattle library is wonderful. It has all kinds of conveyer belts and tubes for automatically shuffling books around. It is one of the examples of Microsoft money helping out the community. Nice job Mr. Gates.
seattle library ilaria
Unfortunately, it was closed for the holiday, and Ilaria didn't get to see the inside (though we did hang around and watch the fancy book return gobble up a few people's books). After this, we had too much time to kill before our red-eye back. And we wandered aimlessly about the city wishing time would pass. We both ended up with lots of new clothes to get us through the rest of the Boston winter.

Hope you like your present Ilaria. When the clothes you bought there wear out, I guess this album and some memories are all that remain.