October 27, 2008

Portland, Oregon: Classical Chinese Garden; things to do

Classical Chinese Garden  127 NW Third Ave./Everett St., 503-228-8131. $8.50, 62+ $7.50, 6-18 $6.50, under 6 free. Apr-Oct 9-6, Nov-Mar 10-5. Free tours daily at 12 & 1.

This tranquil garden takes up one city block. It was built by trades people brought over from Suzhou—known as the Venice of China and Portland’s sister city in China. (In return, Portland gave Suzhou a rose garden and some fire engines.) Workers used the same hand tools that were used in the 1300s Ming Dynasty. Known also as the Garden of Awakening Orchids, it has no straight pathways, forcing visitors to slow down. All plants are indigenous to China, but sourced locally.

The Teahouse in the Tower of Cosmic Reflections is an airy, two-story wooden pavilion with keyhole windows and latticed shutters. The menu offers a large selection of Chinese teas, including silver needle tea that must be picked within 48 hours of sprouting, and jade flower tea made from leaves roasted in a wok and then laboriously sewn into a flower shape. Snacks include cookies and moon cakes as well as black-tea-steeped boiled eggs and turnip cakes.

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image copyright 2008 John Briggs

October 26, 2008

Portland, Oregon: Portland Japanese Garden; things to do

Portland Japanese Garden  611 SW Kingston Ave., in Washington Park, (503) 223-1321.  M noon-4, Tu-Sun 10-4; to 7 in summer; tours available.  $14.95, 65+ $12.95, students $11.95, 6-17 $10.45.  No pets. 

Opened in 1967 and recently expanded, this serene 5.5-acre formal garden is considered the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan.  It features eight garden styles across 12 acres, including the Tea Garden (with an authentic Japanese tea house), Strolling Pond Garden, Natural Garden, Sand & Stone Garden, and Flat Garden.  Each invites lingering, and a visit in any season is a treat.  The garden also includes, streams, colorful koi, and a superb view of Mt. Hood.

The Umami Cafe serves an unusual Japanese lunch and snack menu.

interior of Umami Cafe at Portland Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon
interior of Umami Cafe at Portland Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon

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top image c2008 John Briggs
bottom image and videos c2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers
updated 3-20-18

October 4, 2008

Calistoga, California: Castello di Amorosa; things to do

Castello di Amorosa  4045 N. St. Helena Hwy., S of town, (707) 967-6276, tour (707) 967-6272. Tasting 9:30-6, Dec-Jan 9:30-5; tour daily, must be age 10+, reservations advised.

America’s only authentically replicated 12th-century medieval Italian castle consists of 107 rooms on 7 levels, 95 of which are devoted to winemaking. Two-thirds of the castle is underground, where wines are stored instead of in caves. “I just didn’t know when to quit,” says owner/winemaker Dario Sattui. “Instead of going forward, I’m going backwards.”

Reached by crossing an authentic drawbridge, the castle has its own well, church, and stables. The walls in the great hall are covered with hand-painted frescoes, and the castle boasts secret passageways, a prison and dungeon torture chamber, and, comfortingly, an escape tunnel. Like many unusual facilities found at wineries, it is the result of Sattui’s passion for castles. And melding it well with his other passion for winemaking, he produces here high-end wines from primarily Italian grape varietals. A “Super Tuscan” is among them--as is an “Il Barone” reserve, their biggest red--and all wines are available only on site. The tour includes a barrel tasting and sampling in a private tasting room.

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image ©2008 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Santa Clara, California: Halloween Haunt; things to do

Halloween Haunt occurs select nights in October and November at California’s Great America. It's a monster of a party, with wandering ghouls galore. A foggy atmosphere adds to the creepiness. Best of the bunch is The Gauntlet, CarnEvil, and Ed Alonzo's Psycho Circus of magic and Mayhem. Don't bring children under 13; they will freak out and you will pay dearly in the form of their nightmares.

Friday thru Sunday: October 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 24-26, plus October 31 & November 1; 7pm-midnight; $34.99 advance online; additional fee for some rides; parking $10.

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