Portland is a great place to live. You're surrounded by incredible natural beauty. Mountains. Coast. Gorge. The city has a vast abundance of breweries so you always have a new pint that you can try. There's a growing cultural scene that is both impressive and diverse, whether it's opera, symphony, theater, art, music, soapbox derby, association football, underdog sports, roller derby or any of dozens of other pursuits.
But Portland really is the people. The people are the city. One of Portland's finest is Dave Diffendorfer. Not only is he one of the funniest, most charming guys you could ever meet, but he's also an unique artist of gingerbreadic proportion.
For 14 years Dave has been making the Benson Hotel's lobby gingerbread house display.
He's got formal training from the Western Culinary Institute and, even though he left the Benson years ago, they retain him for this very special project. They set him up in one of the hotel rooms and he makes a veritable Everest of gingerbread, marzipan, icing and what not (chocolate covered baby's breath? Are you kidding me?) to create an amazing, and theoretically edible, display.
Check out his website for details on the history of the houses. And be sure to check out the Benson lobby in person to see what he can create. Look for ghosts and tributes to the mighty Portland Timbers and their faithful supporters.
For nostalgia's sake I ventured into the re-opened downtown Macy's to see their memorial room dedicated to the old Meier & Frank Monorail. When I was young we would visit Santaland on the 10th floor of downtown store. There was a monorail that hung from the vast ceiling and you could ride it above the heads of all the youngsters waiting to see St. Nick. Macy's has wisely created a display honoring this piece of Portland's past. There are only two monorail cars on display but the photos alone are worth the visit. Free.