I'm in Portland this week so I can go to OSCON, the O'Reilly Open Source Conference. Melody came along so she could do some sightseeing while I'm at the conference, which I guess is only fair since for three years (two in Europe, one in San Francisco) she was in a conference for the better part of a week, time I spent playing tourist. We decided to take the train between Seattle and Portland. We've done it before, and it's only about a mile between the station and the hostel we usually stay at. However, because of the timing, we needed to wake up early enough to catch the bus a bit after 6am.
This was the first time either of us had been in the King Street Station since the restoration was done, and it looks really nice. Gone are the dingy dropped ceiling and the cheap paneling, back are the marble walls and high, decorated ceiling. The one downside is the room is now really noisy, and it's hard to hear announcements. The removed dropped ceiling was made of acoustic tiles, so the sound could be why they originally decided to install it.
The line to get seats for the southbound train was far shorter than the one for the northbound trains, so we didn't have to wait very long. About 20 minutes later, it was time to board. The train left right on time, and the available power outlets and wireless were quite nice.
We arrived in Portland about 20 minutes early, and stepped out of the train to weather that was just like what we left in Seattle: morning clouds, burning off in the afternoon to clear, sunny skies. We walked over to the hostel, checked in, and were pleasantly surprised that the room was already available. Normally we'd have to put our bags in the luggage room, so not having to deal with retrieving them later was a bonus. The room is quite a bit larger than we're used to getting in a hostel (we've even had one room that was barely larger than the bed).
After having settled in, we went to work at the next task, finding lunch. We settled on a BBQ place a few blocks away. We ended up splitting a combo plate, and everything was really good. Having a bit of leftovers, we dropped them off in the hostel kitchen, then turned right around to play tourist.
The first stop was to find a light rail station where we could get passes. I was going to buy a day pass for myself, but Melody was going to get a week-long one so she could use it while I was at the conference. We found the kiosk, made our purchases, then went across the street to catch the bus which would take us to Washington Park and the Japanese Garden.
It had been many years since we were last at the Portland Japanese Gardens, so there weren't many things we had remembered. We followed the self-guided tour, and Melody had to wait several times for me to finish taking pictures before moving on.
When we were done, we went back out to the bus stop and got on the shuttle. The next stop was the Zoo, and lots of people started getting on. Melody noticed there was also a light rail station there, so we hopped off (just as well, since people ended up standing on the bus) and went to find the entrance. The most interesting part about the elevator is rather than showing you the floor number, it shows you how many feet above sea level you are. Interesting touch.
Our next stop was the Oregon Convention Center, where OSCON is being held. We showed up right at 4pm, when registration was slated to open. There was quite the crows around the kiosks to check in, but it ended up not taking me too long to do so. I got my stuff, which included a complimentary week-long transit pass (which is why I only got the day pass for today). Fifteen minutes later, there was practically no one in line. I guess everyone wanted to get there early for the free food and drinks.
Back to the light rail station, and got off at the stop near the hostel. On the way back, we stopped by Trader Joe's to pick up things for dinner and breakfast. After heating and eating our dinners, we settled into the room to relax and prepare for the next day: me checking that I had everything I needed for the Monday tutorials, and Melody planing what she was going to see during the day.