Here's a little more story about our wonderful Sylvia Beach Hotel visit last weekend. Three of us are in an online book (plus) group, The Red Room, on LibraryThing (there are a couple dozen women in the group) and we've all gotten quite well acquainted over the last year. Paola lives in New York (she's on the left in the photo); and Wendy , on the right, lives near Redding, California (and barely escaped evacuation from the fires last month).
Paola flew into Portland (very) late Thursday night. I took her on a little tour of one of the "lesser" Powell's book stores on Friday, and the book buying began! Then Paola, my partner Laurie and I drove to Newport on the coast - about a 3 hour drive - and met up with Wendy and her husband Kip (brave man that one, for hanging out with we women all weekend). We settled into our rooms - Laurie and I in the Alice Walker room, Paola in Tennessee Williams and Wendy and Kip in F. Scott Fitzgerald. We had dinner in a local cafe/bookstore; already, it felt like we'd all known each other for years.
Saturday after a scrumptious breakfast at the hotel (breakfast included with room), the three of us Red Roomers took off on a serious book buying adventure. We drove north to Lincoln City and found Bob's Beach Bookstore on Highway 101. The clerk at the hotel desk told us that Bob travels all over the world buying used books - our eyes got big; it was a no-brainer that we'd be visiting Bob! It's an amazing store, nooks and crannies and rooms that go on forever. Paola and I found Viragos - a bit of an obsession for her, a novelty for me.
Newport isn't a techno town and we had a hard time finding wi-fi anywhere; after our booking tour, we ended up parked in front of the public library and piggybacked off their wi-fi so we could get messages out to the rest of the world - some of the unfortunates who couldn't be with us.
We had a fabulous dinner at the hotel - their restaurant is called Tables of Content. The food was superb, the price very reasonable. And the service at the restaurant and the hotel is really excellent. The people who work there have been there a long time and it's obvious they really love their work and have a lot of fun. Diners are encouraged to get to know the people at their family-style table - well, we had no problem with that, but I've been there other times dining with strangers and by the end of the meal, we were pals. It really is a unique experience.
The library is on the third floor of the hotel and is a yummy reading spot. We, however, weren't doing much reading, so we took over the coffee room next to the library and addressed postcards to the rest of our Red Room friends. We got a little silly (surprise!) and ended up in Wendy and Kip's room visiting and laughing until late.
Sunday morning, another wonderful hotel breakfast. Then we all packed up and headed north. Since Paola had never seen the Oregon coast before, we decided to drive north on Highway 101 and then go east rather than leaving the ocean behind right away. We stopped at the Devil's Punch Bowl ten miles north of Newport and had some spectacular views. I love it when the weather cooperates for first time coast viewers!
We got back to Portland mid-afternoon and had a smoked salmon picnic. Laurie and I serenaded our friends with a couple of love songs.
Then for a grand finale, we went to Powell's City of Books - the original, one and only, largest new and used book store in the world. "It's a little overwhelming," said Paola. The store is divided up into rooms named by color; of course, we had to find the Red Room!
This was definitely a weekend to remember - and proof that deep friendships can be formed via sharing common interests on the internet.