My favorite activity in Portland occurred on our last night in town. We attended the Festival of Lights at the Grotto. First of all, we got lost heading to the event so we ended up getting there an hour later than usual. We were still a little lost once we got on the bus, but the driver was super nice and dropped us off right in front of the Grotto.
The Festival of Lights has more than 500,000 lights, nightly choral performances, a petting zoo, carolers, wacky puppet shows and AH-MAZING hot chocolate (this helped since it was rainy and cold).
The Grotto is a Catholic shrine and botanical garden and the lights were woven around the entrance to give you a interesting view as you walked to the sanctuary and Our Lady’s Grotto, which has a life-size marble replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta at the center of a rock cave at the base of a 110-foot cliff.
We ended up taking a time out mid-Saturday. We stayed at the Mark Spencer Hotel, which turned out to be perfect for us. It was near the public transportation and other sights we wanted to see as well as near plenty of restaurants and shopping.
The hotel offered breakfast, a tea time as well as a wine tasting. It also had spacious rooms so we were able to spread out after spending all day together. That helped. It was also super close to the mobile food vendors — perfecto. We visited this area for lunch, and my only regret was that we didn’t visit sooner. I ate at E-San Thai cuisine. It was perfect.
The lunch was a perfect ending to our morning. In between the garden and lunch, we stopped at the Saturday market. I found plenty of jewelry and other items that I liked, but the only thing to really tempt me was the stained glass windows. Unfortunately, these windows didn’t fit my trip’s budget or my suitcases (at least to make it back safely).
I’ll admit one of the most interesting parts of the market was the Santas. Yes, plural. Apparently there was a Santa pub crawl scheduled. We originally saw all the Santas at 11 a.m. and we continued to run into random Santas from the event 12 hours later across town. But it seemed like fun. And the people were creative.
We woke up bright and early today to take the TriMet MAX train to the Oregon Zoo. The zoo’s station was actually an interesting start to our visit. First off, I learned that the station is 260 feet underground and 450 feet above sea level.
It also had a core sample time line (see above) that told a history of the city’s soil.
My main attraction at the zoo was the days-old Asian elephant, Lily. However, Lily wasn’t ready to meet the public yet so we visited the other animals. Here’s a few of the ones that interested me:
I previously worked as a news and sports photographer. Recently I have been enjoying wildlife photography. My approach toward bird photos is similar to sports photography. I attempt to capture mostly action and hopefully a unique perspective.