by Gloria J. Hochstein, 2013 Convention Chair
Portland, Oregon, the destination for the 2013 Sigma Tau Delta International Convention, is situated amidst great natural beauty. Surrounded by verdant mountains with scenic views of waterfalls and expanses of trees, Portland's climate nurtures lush greenery and blooming plants. All year around, the imposing snow capped top of Mount Hood guards the cosmopolitan city spread out at its feet. Everyone should definitely take some time to savor the scents and vistas of this beautiful green city.
Our hotel sits in the heart of downtown Portland and only one block from the MAX Light Railway System. Portland's TriMet system of trains, buses, and street cars make all parts of the city easily and cheaply accessible. Two hour passes are $2.50, and all day passes are $5. So, even though walking is a favorite way to get around the downtown, Portland's public transportation system can quickly carry you to some of the city's other attractions, including the Planetarium, the Oregon Zoo, the Portland Art Museum, the Japanese Garden, the International Rose Test Garden, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, or the Lan Su Chinese Garden, where you might sip tea and marvel at the beauty of the bridges, landscapes, and pavilions of this Ming Dynasty style garden. Try to fit in a visit to the Portland Saturday Market, held every Saturday and Sunday, the nation's largest weekly open-air arts and crafts market.
Portland is also a cultural destination for a plethora of writers and other artists. Portland is the home of Ursula K. Le Guin, one of our main speakers at the 2013 Convention. Some of the other writers and artists who call Portland home include Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club), Michael J. Totten (Washington Institute Book Prize-winning author and journalist), Beverly Cleary (the Henry Huggins children's books), Brian Michael Bendis, Farel Dalrymple, and numerous other writers. Portland is also the home of independent, small graphic novel publishers such as Dark Horse Comics and Oni Press.
From where we will be staying during the convention, the Hilton Portland and Executive Tower, we can easily trace the steps of these writers and artists through the coffee shops, the wine bars, the shops selling hand crafted clothes and more, the grills and diners and restaurants of this city that loves good food, and, of course, the bookstores.
No visit to Portland, especially for a group of book lovers such as the Sigma Tau Deltans, would be complete without at least one visit to Powell's Bookstore. With six locations in Portland and a large online presence, Powell's is considered the biggest independent book seller in the world. There is no doubt that the Powell's location only blocks from our hotel, Powell's City of Books, is most impressive, covering an entire city block and containing over 1.5 million books in 3,500 sections. Yes, I said over 1.5 million books. Powell's is open until 11 p.m. daily. Fortunately, there are an in-store coffee shop and maps to the nine color-coded rooms. I can guarantee that every one of us will come away with at least one treasure, new or used, found at Powell's Bookstore.
Independent bookstores abound in Portland, and Powell's is not alone. Consider visiting Murder By the Book, which specializes in, of course, new and used mystery books. There is In Other Words Feminist Community Center, which is the inspiration for the feminist bookstore in the IFC TV show "Portlandia." New Renaissance Bookshop features books and workshops on well being and spirituality. A bit farther away but known for its neighborhood charm is Annie Bloom's Books.
So many things to do, so little time. This year, there is no speaker scheduled for Thursday night, so that is a good evening to explore Portland. Maybe you want to hear some live music. If money is tight, have no fear--Portland offers a host of free activities. Or just walk around and hop the free streetcars and see some of the free public art all around the city. One thing is certain--once you have visited this city of vistas and culture and coffee and books, this will not be your last visit to Portland, Oregon.
For more information about things to do in Portland, visit the Travel Portland website.