I was fortunate enough to win an educational to Oregon with three other agents in partnership with Travel Oregon and American Airlines! I really did not know what to expect of Oregon as I had not really booked a lot of travel to this particular area. When I told colleagues and friends, I was going there they all had similar questions why are you going there and what is there to do? With this in mind, I truly wondered what I was going to see and do, I thought this was kind of exciting as I had no expectations.
We travelled premium economy to LA with American Airlines and economy on the LA -Portland flights. It was so nice to travel premium economy to LA, generally I am at the back of the plane in economy class so it was a nice change! I was in bulkhead seats both ways on the long-haul flights (2 -3-2 configuration), the leather seats were very comfortable, nice recline and extendable footrests.
There was not a lot of storage space being in bulkhead so most of my items were in the overhead compartment. Wi-Fi can be accessed on board at a small cost approx. USD19.00. This is great if you need to do work or just want to browse the internet etc. I would say the charging unit located under the armrest was difficult to access as it is at the back, hard to see, I had to get my mobile phone light out to see it! It would be good if it was located further forward.
We had a really good amenities kit, it came with a pen, which was useful when filling in the arrivals card for Australia as most people forget to bring one! Meal service was very quick, no sooner were we served the meal it was taken away! I guess this can either be a positive or a negative for travellers, I prefer my tray being removed quickly so I have more room, however, If you are a slow eater you may feel rushed.
The bathrooms on the plane were kept clean throughout the flight, I have been on many long-haul flights and they have been dreadful so that’s a plus. In general, the staff were friendly and service efficient.
Being in Premium and receiving priority for baggage was a real added bonus, especially when we landed in Sydney. Our bags were the first to come off and we were able to beat the crowds through customs which can take a long time if you are stuck in line. I believe it took only around 30-35 minutes to disembark, collect bags, go through immigration and clear customs, which is excellent!
In LA I had the opportunity to visit the Flagship First Lounge and Admiral’s Club lounge. The Flagship Lounge was beautiful, ample space, great food and beverage options and the shower facilities are huge. Admirals lounge in comparison was very busy (AA are changing the access policy so this should allow more room for travellers of American Airlines). It was hard to get a table and not a whole heap of food options in the main area, a few more food items could be added. Other than that, still a nice space to unwind while transiting versus the main terminal.
First stop of our itinerary was Portland, where we spent 3 nights.
This is a great town with lots of things to see and do! This is definitely a foodie destination, we participated in a donut and coffee tour which was a lot of fun. We visited local stores and sampled many a coffee and donut! We also went on a brewery tour, enjoyed IPA’s (Indian Pale Ales) and other ales! was quite an interesting tour as we walked to each brewery and along the way could view the local neighbourhoods of Portland plus could also burn a few calories. Food carts are also very popular in Portland and we visited Prost Marketplace where we sampled Matt’s BBQ and enjoyed an assortment of Texas style ribs and brisket plus sides. Portions are massive and food is delicious!
Next up was a bike tour ,a different way of seeing Portland, doing a bit of exercise after all the eating was great, the tour lasted a couple of hours and we were given a brief history of the town and made a few stops along the way.
The Japanese Gardens are a must, the gardens are stunning and so peaceful, great photo opportunities as well. We travelled in Autumn (known as the Fall in the US) so the colours of the trees were beautiful, reds, oranges and yellows. If you are into thrills, indoor skydiving is for you with iFLY. This was a lot of fun without jumping out of a plane! You get two turns and each turn lasts around 2 minutes and there is an instructor with you, so you are not on your own!
Accommodation – Jupiter Next, Portland
Modern hotel with large rooms, can be a bit noisy at times. Great Restaurant called Hey Love on the ground floor of the hotel. The restaurant serves tropically inspired comfort food plus delicious cocktails.
Part of the educational is a self-drive itinerary and first stop is Ponzi Vineyards in Willamette Valley. This is a gorgeous winery that has stunning views of the vineyard and Valley, Ponzi is renowned for its Pinot Noir.
Accommodation - Embassy Suites Portland – Washington Square.
This is an upscale all-suite hotel which has large rooms including lounge area and kitchenette. The hotel is located next to Washington Square Mall and is only a 15-minute drive to downtown Portland. Breakfast is also included in the room rate.
First stop of the day is Middleground Farms for a cooking class and brunch. We learned fundamental skills in the kitchen whilst cooking delicious food with fresh eggs and vegetables from the farm. The highlight was enjoying all the dishes we had created.
We then headed to Tillamook known for its dairy farms and stopped at Tillamook creamery, there we sampled their renowned cheese and ice creams. I loved this stop!
In the late afternoon we caught the sunset at Oceanside, it’s well worth the stop, absolutely stunning.
Accommodation - Inn Cape Kiwanda, Portland
Spacious rooms that have their own balcony and have an ocean view. The fireplace is in the room is a nice touch.
I woke up to an amazing view of Haystock rock. It is a lovely beach walk and has amazing rock formations, we even made it up the big sand dunes and were rewarded with amazing views of the coastline.
After checking out of our hotel we were bound for the next major stop, Bandon. En-route we stopped at Newport known for its sea lions, this makes a nice lunch stop and we enjoyed a nice seafood lunch with the sealions echoing in the background! We also visited the sand dunes of Oregon Dunes National Park which were quite big, much nicer running down the sandhills versus going up them!
Accommodation - Bandon Inn, Bandon
This inn has character and overlooks the old town and Coquille River.
Bandon is a small town we didn’t spend much time there. The local artwork that we did see was interesting. There was a fish and turtle that were created out of recycled water bottles, boots, shot gun shells, bottle caps, fake flowers, detergent bottles and plastic lighters!
Face Rock Viewpoint was also a nice stop again some wonderful rock formations which reminded me of the Great Ocean Road.
Oregon definitely has a stunning rugged coastline with amazing views!
We then headed inland away from the coast towards to Eugene, I loved this part of the trip the scenery is beautiful long winding roads, lush forest and lakes. The colours of the trees stand out with their yellows, oranges and reds. There are number of wineries and we visited two along the way, first stop is a lovely boutique winery Valley Brandborg and the second is Kings Estate a large winery located on gorgeous grounds, they all produce lovely wines and it’s a nice way to break the journey.
Accommodation – Even Hotels, Eugene
This is a new modern wellness hotel and has a state of the art fitness centre and also comes with a fitness station in each room! Great location too, approx 5 minutes from Downtown Eugene.
Dinner was at a lovely restaurant called Grit located in the Whiteaker neighbourhood, they use seasonal local produce and the food is lovely!
We had an early start to the morning, and we headed to downtown Eugene, breakfast is at Morning Glory cafe a great little breakfast spot that uses organic and local produce where possible, the corn fritters were delicious!
Before heading off we stopped at 5th Street Public Market, a great little precinct with boutique shops and eateries. We were lucky enough to see some of the Halloween decorations that were still up.
Back on the road we took an accidental detour and end up at Cougar Dam, an amazing dam and view that we stumbled across by error, was pretty impressive!
Back on track and we stopped at Sahalie Falls. These falls are spectacular and such a nice stop to relax and unwind. There is also a walking trail you can take at these falls, we only stopped for an hour, but you could spend at least half a day or more!
Next stop is Sisters this was my favourite town. Only a small country town but full of charm. We stopped for lunch at Sisters Saloon. It was built in 1912 and has lots of stuffed animal heads hanging from the walls!
Accommodation - The Doubletree by Hilton, Bend
Spacious rooms with king or 2 queen beds, nice big shower too and great location, just a short walk to the centre of town.
Bend has a nice village feel with boutique shops, cosy wine bars and restaurants. We had dinner at Wild Rose Thai and enjoyed some authentic Thai cuisine, it’s a very popular restaurant with the locals.
On our last day of the trip, we had an early start to explore the morning lava caves. We travelled into the heart of the high desert to reach these caves. These are large lava tube caves and are very interesting to walk through, there is no lighting or paved pathways, so quite an experience.
After the incredible caves we were on our way to Mt Hood, our final stop, and on the way we stopped at Smith Rock State Park to view the unusual sheer cliffs of tuff and basalt that rise from Crooked River Canyon. Many people rock climb or hike, however we just stopped for photos.
We ended our trip at Trillium Lake and Timberline Lodge to view Mt Hood and it did not disappoint, it is absolutely beautiful. Mt hood is the largest mountain in Oregon and is open for skiing all year round. After enjoying final drink or two here we departed for our flights back to our respective homes.
Oregon definitely has the wow factor and I would highly recommend anyone to visit who loves scenery, food and wine, and adventure.