|An Orange Excursion||
Amsterdam, apart from being very easy to get around in, and generally very crammed, its people love open markets. From Nieuwmarkt (organic produce) to the Waterlooplein Markt (anything and everything....some seemingly very expensive items for very cheap....stolen? maybe, but who's asking right?) to the all "goedkoep" Dappermarkt, where one can buy an entire package of toilet paper for an Euro, Amsterdammers love markets. And, as it happens to go, I too, enjoy their outside colorfulness. So below you can get a picturesque taste of the markets, and I'll explain below that!
Well here is my favorite, not only because of its closeness (a few blocks) but because it has a nice mix of everything. You go in one way with a veggie and patat fritas stall and end with a slipper and watch stand. The great thing is, the road closes, and often times the stands are different from the normal stores that line Albert Cuypstraat. I love just going out on a sunny (rare) day and taking a gander at what is there. The produce is awesome, and nothing beats the cheese stands (which are enormously cheaper than a store). This is where I first had poffertjes, which are half-dollar sized, mini pancakes that are served covered in powder sugar, then given with a nice slice of butter. Yes, pure, unadulterated butter, definitely not FDA allowed in America. On this one "straat" one can literally find a full course meal. From dried fruits, to nuts, to freshly (and in some cases) still alive seafood. Apparently, if one goes out in an Adidas track suit, you fit in quite well here, as one day, I was shopping for portobello mushroom and potatoes when all I heard was, "meneer, pardon meneer." Of course I looked up, and a bulbous, very well dressed man was talking to me in Nederlands with an extremely French accent. I gave that, "What? Huh? I can't quite hear you look" and eventually just said, "Sorry meneer, Ik begrijp u niet. Ik spreek slechts een beetje Nederlands." That was that, I guess I've assimilated well.
(To the side was a delicious "Wally's Waffle" of dark chocolate and coconut that I had just-so-happened to pass on Albert Cuypmarkt). The second favorite markt by far is De Bloemenmarkt. Now, I am not one for flowers, nee, I think of them as a waste of time, they provide no real sustenance, and thus, we men should give our partners either fruit or veggies when we see them, because you can actually live off that, as opposed to flowers, which you will eventually forget to water and will die. But, I digress, De Bloemenmarkt is "zeer leuk." The flowers stand are very colorful and smell like any good candle store. From flowers to go, to sprouts to try and smuggle through customs, they sellall sorts of decorative organics (and smokeable ones as well, but you actually have to grow them yourselves, or just go to any readily available Coffeeshop).
De Bloemenmarkt is right on Singel Centrum, the beginning of the really touristy, action packed area of downtown Amsterdam. On this street are plenty of tourist gift shops, 2 sample-friendly cheese cellars (with the girls in Dutch outfits to boot) and a pancake restaurant that I need to get to. I always walk through when I go by, because the stalls will change, there is no quota to cheese sampling, and I generally think this area is a great time to feel like I'm above those around me (because I actually have a residence card, unlike those tourists.....).
I think one of the hallmarks of this town is its ability to pack all these markets into an area already overflowing with everything else. De markten have unique times, some open on Sun and Mon only, to some only being open until 1pm. They are all unique in what they have to offer, and all are unique in their placement and clientele. But, random "fests" that sprout up from nowhere are what get me. On Saturday, on my way to Unlimited Delicious (again--tried the Appletaart--American apple pie has nothing on the Dutch version). I stumbled upon a food festival on Haarlemmerstraat which had everything from Dutch fried goods, to an American BBQ, to probably the freshest, most awesome looking bread ever, to say the least I was tempted. If I was not going to Unlimited Delicious I would of splurged, but just bought a Kroket (a fried mix on mashed potatoes and non-used meat products) and took in the smells and sunny day. Random fests, free cheese, and the daily selling of goods, sounds pretty Dutch to me. Their trading empire may have dissolved in the early 1700s, but they are definitely still trading gods on the streets.