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Day 44 - Alvar Aalto in Portland

I woke up earlier than I had planned but stayed still in bed for a while enjoying the retreat and the fact that I didn’t had to get up in order to discover another new city, busy running around all day. After a shower and breakfast I packed my bags and got my camera ready. After all, I still had a little bit of sightseeing to do. As I had already mentioned in earlier posts one purpose of this trip was to go and see architectural works of the famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, whose work I had been following for quite some time. It was again a beautiful sunny day. Did I already mention how lucky I had been with the weather during this entire trip? I went across the campus in order to have a closer look at the Alvar Aalto library. I did first the exterior shots, looking at the building from any accessible angle. Thereby I also met the janitor of the building who had some interesting stories to share about the building. After I had gotten enough pictures I went inside in order to discover the interior. I have seen almost all libraries designed by Alvar Aalto but this one was probably the most beautiful. I also had a little chat with the librarian and was sharing the link to my blog with her. After I had seen all the publically accessible rooms of the library and taken pictures I went back to the guest house. I finished packing and changed the linen of the bed, as it was requested by the house rules. I think this has been the first time that I had changed the linen myself in a hotel.  However, as the entire guest house was run on a non-profit base and the accommodation rates were rather low, I didn’t mind. After I had taken my used linen and towels to the collection point in the hallway, I left the room. At least I didn’t had to clean the bathroom. I deposited the keys in the lobby and left the guest house at 11 am. I ordered a cap back to the railway station in Salem and I was promised that it will be at the abbey in 15 minutes. I made my way down to the parking lot. I was waiting and waiting but no cab showed up. After 45 minutes I called the taxi company again and they apologized for the delay promising that the cab should only be minutes away. After another 15 minutes finally a yellow cab showed up. Luckily I wasn’t in a hurry. The driver was very nice and told me many interesting details about Salem and the area around. The ride back to the station took almost 45 minutes, as we had agreed on a flat rate of 40 dollars, the driver didn’t had to go too fast which was nice because the conversation was really nice. After I had arrived at the railway station I checked in my bag. The station agent told me that the train was supposed to be on time which was almost a surprise to me. Still I had about two hours time so I walked towards the city center of Salem. I passed by the Willamette University and stopped by at the Oregon State Capitol. I went further downtown in order to find a place to eat. After lunch I walked back to the station. Salem is this kind of typical American town which is often shown in the movies. Very nice and people are very friendly. I got back to the station just in time to see the departure of train 14 the northbound Coast Starlight which was about two hours delayed. I got back to the station about 30 minutes prior to departure. It seemed as if the southbound Coast Starlight train 11 was still on time. However, once the train was scheduled to arrive the announcement came that train 11 was expected about 30 minutes late, due to track congestion. The train approach the station a few minutes after 4 pm. Boarding didn’t take long and I got, as usual, an aisle seat assigned. I had asked for a window seat but that didn’t help. Not to mention how happy this made me. The afternoon went by and while the train was running through beautiful Oregon landscape we called at Albany, OR and Eugene-Springfield, OR. From some distance the forest fires and the smoke could be seen from which the cap driver had told me. It had been a very dry year and there had been hardly any rain in Oregon. At some point I left the aisle seat behind and switched to the launch car finally being able to enjoy the beautiful landscape. The scenery was really amazing, passing by large lakes and forests with the Cascades in the background while the sun was just setting. I also had very nice company in the launch car, an educator from Portland. We had such an interesting conversation about environmental issues, cultural differences and the importance of education. It was really interesting to hear about her experiences as a high school teacher. While we were talking I got some dinner from the launch car. My new acquaintance had a 9 pm dinner reservation and while she went to the dining car I returned to my seat. With about 1 hour delay the Coast Starlight called at Chemult, OR. Some freight train was the reason for our delay. I spent the evening with some writing before going to sleep on my wonderful aisle seat.   

Mount Angel Abbey Library designed by Alvar Aalto

Salem station

Coast Starlight approaching Salem

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