Portland, Oregon is known as The Rose City and it was in full bloom for my first visit to this progressive Pacific Northwest port named after Portland, Maine but having grown to almost 5-times the population of its namesake.

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Portland, Oregon is a city without centuries of history but what history it does have is very colourful as in the late 1880’s was considered one of the most dangerous ports in the world because of it’s illegal activities such as gambling rackets and prostitution as well as a thriving business in kidnapping unsuspecting citizens who were forced to labour as sailors, a term that came to be known as Shanghaiing.

By the early 20th century Portland shed its rough and tumble frontier town reputation and after a boom during WWII move in a progressive direction by the 1970’s to become today a leader in environmental consciousness because of its extensive public transportation network, large bicycling community and walkable city center.

My first visit coincided with the 111th edition of the Portland Rose Festival which included the Grand Floral Parade through the city center complete with floats and marching bands.

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As part of the Rose Festival warships are docked during Fleet Week encouraging visitors to tour the vessels and appreciate those who served in the forces.  I toured the USS Michael Murphy, a destroyer named for Medal of Honor recipient Michael P. Murphy who was killed in action in Afghanistan and was  the first U.S. Navy member to earn the award since the Vietnam War.

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photo by author

We entered through the read deck which serves as a helicopter landing pad and toured forward to the gun deck which was festooned with communication flags.

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Also docked although not open to even this Canadian was Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Regina and coastal defense vessel HMCS Nanimo.

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photo by author

The Portland Aerial Tram carries commuters between the city’s South Waterfront district and the main Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campus and is only one of two commuter aerial tramways in the United States, the other being New York City’s Roosevelt Island Tramway. The tram travels a horizontal distance of 1,000 m and a vertical distance of 52 m in a ride that lasts only three minutes.

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The Lan Su Chinese Garden is a walled Chinese garden that takes up a square city block in the  Old Town/Chinatown section of the city and is modeled after famous classical garden in Suzhou, a twin city of Portland.

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While 90% of the plants featured in the garden are indigenous to China none could be imported due to import bans so what has been grown are those that could be found in gardens and nurseries around Oregon.

The Portland Saturday Market was founded in 1973 as a three-way beneficial deal as artists would have an economic outlet for their work, customers would gain better access to locally produced items, and the city would have a new attraction to draw customers into the downtown area. Since it’s creation 45 years ago the market, which has expanded to Sundays, has become the largest continuously operating open-air arts and crafts market in the United States.

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There are number of food vendors at the Saturday Market and enough places out of the rain with which to down the food truck cuisine. Given this is a beer city there are also licensed vendors including Rogue Ales & Spirits.

Keep Portland Weird” is a city slogan borrowed from Austin, Texas aimed at promoting individuality, expressionism, local art, as well as atypical lifestyle choices and leisure activities and that edgy and eccentric vibe is evident in events such the Saturday Market.

Portland is a perfect city for a weekend Summer escape and check out the city’s tourism events calendar for upcoming  festivals, activities and events.