We lucked out on some great weather in Portland. The Friday we drove down was a mixed bag of clouds, rain, and wind. The next few days, however, were gorgeous short-sleeve type weather. Spring had finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest.
We hopped onto the MAX for free this morning and headed down to the Portland Saturday Market. We got off at the Skidmore Fountain stop at SW 1st Ave and SW Ankeny St underneath the Burnside Bridge. I had read about this popular local market online. It runs from the end of February to Christmas Eve. It’s in a really rough part of town. There were a few abandoned buildings in the area and plenty of homeless and beggars milling about. One group of them was set up in front of a building right beside the MAX stop. It was a little scary to have to walk past them to move between different parts of the market. Hopefully, I was just paranoid.
There is one part of the market that is on one side of SW First Ave. It’s the smaller part and had mostly food. Across the street by the Skidmore Fountain was another part of the market with lots of crafts and artisans. It definitely had a unique flavour and lots of local content. The tents stretched between SW First Ave all the way to SW Naito Parkway. Closer to Naito Parkway were more food stalls. We regretted buying food on the other side of First Ave because there was a lot more selection at this part of the market, including something called Elephant Ears. It’s a local Portland treat which I suspect looks and tastes like our Canadian Beaver Tails.
We continued to walk around and see more of the different displays and took some more photos. There were even a couple of buskers plying their trade. It was cute to see some kids become part of the act. There is also a third section of the market that is directly under the Burnside Bridge.
Not too far from the Market is the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. This park used to be part of the freeway system in Portland. Since they’ve torn down the freeway and reclaimed the waterfront, this park has been a popular destination for Portlanders. On a beautiful day like the one we had, you could see a lot of Portland enjoying the sunshine. There were photographers, joggers, and cyclists everywhere we looked.
It was a gorgeous days and all the cherry blossoms in the park added wonderfully to the spring time atmosphere. Back in Vancouver, most of the cherry blossoms had not bloomed, but Portlands were blooming in full force this day. We were in the Japanese-American Memorial area of the park. Because cherry blossoms, or sakura, are a symbol of spring in Japan, that is likely why there were so many cherry blossom trees in this area.
You could also see the other side of the Williamette River from the park. Unfortunately, the other side of the river bank is dominated by the elevated highway that runs north-south. There was a huge concrete landscape on the other side. However, you could make out some of Portland’s nicer structures like the Oregon Convention Center and the Steel Bridge. The Steel Bridge is a lift bridge that accommodates the Amtrak train and MAX LRT.
The Saturday Market was a treat to see and walk through, although I didn’t find anything I would purchase. If I had more room in my stomach, I may have tried the Elephant Ears or something else from one of the food stalls near SW Naito Parkway. The Waterfront was pretty, but we only experienced one section. If we had more time, we could have rented bikes and rode up and down the Waterfront Park.