By Gale Fiege, Herald Writer
Portland is happening. You’ll find cool shopping, eating, drinking and events of many kinds. It’s all there.
And during the winter months, the best way to get to Portland is by train.
Amtrak Cascades passengers who book two weeks in advance for travel from now through March can pick up 25-percent-off train tickets.
Hotels have special winter rates. Restaurants have deals.
And, if you time your trip right, you might end up on a train that includes the new Portland Express car.
The completely redecorated train car features Oregon furnishings, art, decor, food and beverages to help travelers get into the spirit of the City of Roses, primed for more fun.
The Portland Express is the first train car interior makeover of its kind for the Cascades passenger line, and you can spot its colorful, artsy exterior wrap from a mile away.
The seats are upholstered with Pendelton fabrics and draped with classic Pendleton blankets and pillows.
Paintings by Oregon artists, music by Portland bands and books by local authors set the mood. Comfortable decor is homey shabby chic.
It’s just too bad that the special car doesn’t come through Everett on each daily run to Portland.
The Portland Express car is scheduled to stop in Stanwood, Everett and Edmonds heading south on Jan. 18 and 24, and every six days after that through March.
With or without the new retrofitted car, you can depart Everett daily at about 10 a.m. and be in Portland by about 3:15 p.m., ready to visit places such as Powell’s City of Books, the Pendleton Woolen Mills store and the boutiques in the Pearl District for tax-free shopping.
Portland also has 52 craft breweries, wine bars featuring Oregon pinot noir and a healthy culinary scene.
In March, many restaurants will offer $29 three-course menus during Portland Dining Month.
Off-season downtown hotel rates, easy light-rail access and the fact that the downtown area is walkable can make for an affordable stay.
When you get off the train at Portland’s beautiful Union Station, walk one block south to catch the MAX light rail to downtown.
In Portland this winter you can enjoy exhibits at the Portland Art Museum, Chinese New Year at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, the Portland Jazz Festival and the Oregon Seafood and Wine Festival.
Travel Portland, the official marketing organization for the city, has engineered the Portland Express and the city’s winter promotional campaign, called Portland is Happening Now.
It has a good website to check out while planning your visit. Go to www.travelportland.com.
Amtrak Cascades operates on the 467-mile railroad corridor from Vancouver, B.C., to Eugene, Ore.
To take advantage of special train rates, about $31 one-way from Everett to Portland, go online to http://tinyurl.com/pru26wq.