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Added Columbia Gorge photos.
Then we had nice stroll along Newport’s working Bay Street. It has interesting combination of seafood and fish processing plants together with little stores and art galleries. One of the store owners (ex-Silicon Valley engineer) recommended us to visit Yaquina Head lighthouse. As we found out this was great recommendation. While the lighthouse itself was closed on Wednesday, area around it was beautiful. We even went to the rocky beach down below the lighthouse and checked some marine life in numerous tide pools.
As we drove north along the coast, we stopped in several art galleries. There are a lot of artists of all kind living on or near Oregon coast.
And lastly, for the first time we attempted to drive through the Three Capes Scenic Loop - Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda . Unfortunately, due to the roadwork we were able to visit only Cape Meares but it was well worth extra driving. It had a lighthouse along with beautiful scenery, gorgeous ocean views and huge Sitka spur trees. Next time we have to visit all three capes. We spend so much time walking around there that Tillamook Cheese Factory that we always visit was already closed and we made to Portland really late
We had dinner at Toro Bravo which was totally crazy but wonderful place. We arrived there around 9pm but it was still very busy with a bunch of people waiting outside. As we walked in, we were told that waiting time was between 20 and 40 minutes. The lady offered us to wait at a small table outside. But then for whatever reason she felt pity toward us and gave us next open table!
The place was not big and VERY loud. Their menu was pretty confusing – they had pinchos, tapas, charcuteria, and raciones that changed daily. Our waitress offered us to go with Chef’s tasting menu but we decided to take our chances and just order few items from different parts of the menu. We started with 5 item planning to order more if this was not enough. We ordered bread with butter and olive oil (olive oil was outstanding), octopus a la Plancha, grilled flat bread with truffle cheese and arugula, duck liver mousse terrine with morels and house made
sidra mustard and salt cod fritters with aioli. We also had 2 beers. Well, I have to say that we did not need to order anything more and were barely able to finish our food.
EVERYTHING was outstanding – bold simple flavors, interesting daring combinations; to put it simply just perfect. I also bought chef’s cook book which turned out to be somewhat unexpected but very interesting reading. It was not just about food and recipes but also about people at the restaurant, their life stories and philosophies. Highly recommended reading for people who are into food (same name as a restaurant - Toro Bravo). Our total bill was surprisingly reasonable ($73 before tips including $25 for the book). As we were leaving the restaurant around 10pm there were still people waiting outside to be seated!
We spent day 5 driving along Columbia River Gorge and admiring numerous waterfalls. I am completely obsessed with waterfalls and never get tired of them; Alex is not so much - he does not share my fascination with fast running water. He did a couple of short hikes to the waterfalls but then went on strike and refused to get out of the car. To his defense, we do this almost every year for many-many year so I can (almost!) understand his position.
Strangely enough but even after so many years of coming to the Gorge, I managed to find a waterfall that was new to me – Bridal Veil Falls. We were always traveling from east to west so by the time we usually reached it, we were too tired for the hike. This time it was at the start of our drive so I was still full of energy. The hike was 2/3 miles round-trip and relatively easy. However, Alex did not go. I was extremely pleased with this waterfall – it was very beautiful, tall and strong.
Then we spend time checking little shops at Hood River. Unfortunately, our favorite potter Jill Warila was no longer there (some politics at the gallery) and no one could tell us where to find her. This was very sad since for many years we were buying her pottery for us, family and friends.
We stayed in the same hotel as always – Best Western Hood River and as always everything was perfect.
To be continued....