Moments of Happiness: Markets in Amsterdam
Remember when I lived in Amsterdam?
Remember when I used to take such sweet pleasure in cycling around a city on two wobbly wheels and a seat that squeaked back at me?
Remember when I got so used to having canals reflect the tall thin leaning houses back at me, I simply stopped taking photos?
I do and I can't wait to go back. It's one of only a relatively few cities I yearn to make my own.
The markets are one of the reasons why and unlike with children it's perfectly reasonable to have favourites. These are mine...
I discovered this market too late and so didn't have the opportunity to return on a Monday when it is actually more of a vintage clothes and fabric and second hand goods flea market. On Saturdays, however, it is a decent sized organic farmers market with all the colourful vegetables, smelly cheeses and expensive olive oils you would expect from this. It's a great place to wonder around and when I made it there one Saturday shortly before we left, and a few of the flea market sellers were there including a woman selling a hodge-podge of vintage clothes and trinkets. I bought four fabulous dresses for 30 Euros. My wardrobe and I can't wait to go back on a Monday in the future... Waterlooplein Flea Market
Not for the faint-hearted, Waterlooplein is a feast of a flea market with clothes, antiques, new goods, household items, hardware tools, bikes and more being sold in this large town square on the east of Amsterdam, near Blauwbrug and the Rembrandthuis Museum. Vintage lovers - give yourself a couple of hours to rummage through the piles of clothes, bags and other treats that will be dumped on table tops or plastic tarpaulin on the ground in front of you and I strongly recommend you leave your boyfriends at home, unless he is of the rummage-friendly variety. Most clothes, bags and shoes will smell a little funny and will be priced between 2 - 20 Euros. Don't be afraid to barter if you're buying in bulk though not all the stall holders will entertain you for long. I bought two completely ridiculously fabulous silk shirts and one dress here for 15 Euros. My favourite stall at this market is a guy with boxes and boxes of old postcards, some written on and sent, others blank and unloved. I rescued around ten or so for 4 Euros and though I don't know what to do with them I want to go back for more. The book market at Spui
I also have a soft spot for this small but excellent book market held at Spui on a Friday. It has a traditional and loyal following both in terms of buyers and sellers with lots of middle aged men in corduroy sitting around having intellectual conversations drinking coffee out of paper cups they have been reusing for weeks. Sadly with my nomadic lifestyle preventing me from buying any of the old and new books I longed for, I used to simply go along for a quick sniff of the air or feel of a creased spine or two. Oh and for the vintage maps. In the future when I am an old lady clip clopping in clogs around my windmill in the Dutch countryside I will cover the walls in the vintage maps I will buy from this market. Nieuwmarkt
While it's not one of my personal favourites it is likely that you will end up at Nieuwmarkt as it's one of Amsterdam's most central markets. This tourist friendly daily market is close to the Red Light District and Amsterdam's often forgotten Chinatown and if you do end up there by accident or intent then it's worth taking a few moments to wonder around admiring the fresh vegetables (lots of different types of potatoes), the wild flowers the locals love and taking photos of the cheese that the Dutch are famous for eating a lot of (and they do). There's also smoked herring here for you to try but if that doesn't float your boat try the crepes served at a stall here but don't expect that delicious pancake to not fill your tummy for many hours because it will, perfect for a long cycle around the city. On Sundays there's a second hand and antiques market that I sadly never got to explore. Oh Amsterdam, I can't wait to go back. Soon, soon, soon.
Frances M. Thompson
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