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We traveled to Portland to celebrate love and were received by an unexpected opulence of sights, sounds and tastes.  Portland’s charm lies in the fact that it offers a little bit of everything.  On the way to our hotel we drove through hilly streets much like San Francisco.  On the way to the airport we drove through a shopping area reminiscent of New York City.  The fall foliage, at its peak, added layers of golden leaves that gave way to ochre and crimson reds.  Oregonians’ respect for the environment showed in their bicycles and hybrid cars strewn around the city.  Surrounded by natural beauty, this city also embraces art, music, and literature, plus it is a haven for foodies.  An hour drive to the south takes you to the wine country.  An hour north through rich forests, facing Mt. Hood, brings you to the Pacific Ocean.

Before getting into the food experience let me tell you about a couple of places we visited.  Our first stop: Powell bookstore, the world’s largest independent bookstore, a site to behold for a couple of bookworms.  Four stories tall, it spans a whole city block.  We only visited one and half floors, the purple and orange rooms: international and spirituality rooms.   Well ok.  Just before leaving the city we stopped there again.  This time for research purposes.  Honestly.

The next day we took a stroll through the Japanese Garden, one in a group of botanical gardens in the middle of Portland. A winding path, amidst trees, brought us up to the main entrance.  Walking through the doors was like entering into a magical dreamland.

An invisible mist infused the garden, the air cool and crisp enough to invite my hand around his waist, his on my shoulder.  Enveloped by a tapestry of vibrant colors we explored all five manicured sections: tea garden, natural garden with its magnificent waterfall, sand and stone garden with its peerless silence, strolling pond, and flat gardens. The serenity of these beautiful grounds invited us into a world of our imagination, of living here, of wedding ceremonies, of springtime.  Neither would let the other miss the splendor of sights.  We nudged at each other and pointed constantly.

Apparently, years ago in Japan, people saw the gardens from boats on the pond.  We, instead, lingered on the bridge to enjoy the pond scurrying against the stones, running away, asking us to follow.  Then we followed.

The garden gave us breath and took our breath away.  Don’t miss it.  Let this gorgeous place speak to your senses.