Years ago, I spent a few summers assisting tourists at the Visitors Information Center in Yarmouth. My teaching job allowed me the opportunity to have a second job during peak time in Maine, and I loved talking with people from away about our beautiful state and all of the amazing activities one could experience.

On a couple of occasions, I helped visitors who had mistakenly booked hotels for the Portland on the West Coast, and even though it was high season here, I managed to find them rooms. At the time, the experience made me wonder how the two cities compared, but it wasn’t until this year that I decided to see for myself how they measured up. I thought about all of the recent accolades bestowed upon my hometown, Portland, Maine, but as I began planning the trip, I discovered that Portland, Oregon, had its share of honors too.

My husband joined me for this adventure and we made sure to go with an open mind so we could make a fair assessment. We flew into the “other Portland” and took an Uber into the city with a delightful chap whose superb local knowledge gave us a fabulous history lesson and a wonderful first impression.

He dropped us off at the Mark Spencer Hotel, an impressive historic hotel located in a walkable area near many attractions, and we were immediately greeted by the hotel bellhop, who happened to be a transplant from New England. He quickly grabbed our bags and informed us of all the hotel offerings, including a free happy hour and morning breakfast. He managed to get us checked in quickly and gave us further details about sightseeing and even made us a to-do list for our short visit.

We left the hotel on foot and made our way to the acclaimed Blue Star Donuts and then onward to Powell’s, the famous bookstore that takes up a full city block with volumes of incredible reading material. We ended our night with dinner at Jake’s Famous Crawfish, a well-established restaurant that was both charming and delicious. I began realizing there were many similarities between the two Portlands especially the friendliness of the locals.

The next day we headed for the waterfront trolley tour that gave us a greater perspective of the environs. The City of Roses was in full bloom, even for a fall day, and did not disappoint with its waterfront park, gardens and historic districts. We had only booked our visit for 24 hours, so at the end of that tour we headed for the train station to continue our adventure further along the Pacific Northwest. As our rail car left the station, I realized that I had developed a new appreciation for the Portland I had just visited, but more importantly, for the one I call home.


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