The Sylvia Beach Hotel

posted Jun 30, 2017, 7:04 PM by Grace Lutheran Church

A good rest in a historic Portland hotel!  The hotel was built in 1906.  Though now it is an Embassy Suites, it was once the pride of Portland – the Multnomah Hotel.  Many rich and famous had slept here including many presidents.  Though the hotel had been modernized over the years, the lobby has been restored to its original beauty.  We rose early and found our way across the street to pick up our rental car and head to the Oregon coast.  On the way south we picked up Sue.  I have known Sue since birth.  We were next door neighbors.  Sue is one of my “oldest” friends! After loading Sue, wine and luggage in the car we headed down the road to Wilsonville where we met Lorin, a seminary classmate.  Over breakfast we caught up on the ups and downs of our first 11 years of ordained ministry.  We shared our highs and lows, laughed and nearly cried.  It is cathartic to share with one who has walked in the shoes you have walked.  We parted vowing to meet up again before the next 11 years have passed. 

On down the road, we passed several wine tasting venues…they called to us as the Sirens of the deep called to the sailors.  We were lured in to taste and to buy some of the delicious nectar of the vine!  Then continue our journey winding our way to the sea!  Our destination was Newport, Oregon and the Sylvia Beach Hotel.  Built in 1912 it maintains much of the charm of an earlier day but has been renovated to provide the comforts of today.  The stairs creek, and the floors are uneven.  No room is alike in size or arrangement.  And each room is decorated to reflect the theme of a different author. We stayed in the Collette room.  She was the French author of Gigi and known for her romance.  The room was pale pink and somewhat frilly but we picked it for its view, balcony and shower. There were rooms for Hemingway, Seuss, Fitzgerald, Austin and many more.  (On the morning we were leaving I passed the Agatha Christie room and the door was standing open.  There was a pale, thin woman wearing a long beige dress, lying on the bed.  She appeared to be dead.  It seemed so appropriate! As it turned out she was not dead just tired from her journey but it gave me a bit of a start!) 

The weather was changeable – mornings grey and cloudy and the first 2 evenings were beautiful and sunny.  But it was always windy.  The last couple of days were cold, rainy, and windy and no one made any excuses… “This is the Oregon Coast!”  The plans to sit on the balcony and read were out so we became tourists – watching for whales, going to a whale museum, watching for whales in another spot, eating, buying postcards, finally seeing some whales at the third stop and eating some more!  Our room had a fire place so we lit a fire to drive away the chill, drank some wine and played cards! 

Meals in the Hotel were a community event.  An abundant breakfast was part of the package.  We met people from France and Ohio and many from the Pacific Northwest.  Most times the conversation was light and fun and everyone shared a bit of their story.  Occasionally one finds oneself at a table with a few who feel the need to compete for the title of most knowledgeable, well-traveled, well-read. Such a spirit dominates the table and silences much other conversation.   I guess when the theme of the hotel is books and people come there because of their interest in books, reading, intellect…that can happen! 

As one is invited to do at Sylvia Beach, I explored the hotel and found, on the third floor, a wonderful cozy library full of books, comfy chairs and couches, and big windows that looked out on the ocean.  A neighboring room held coffee, tea, and a puzzle table.  But the best find was up another flight to the attic where, under the eaves, was nestled a cozy chair looking out on the pounding waves where I settled in to read and write in my journal.  I could have spent hours there.  But it was soon time to move on.  Back to Portland and to the train to head toward San Diego!

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