I love shopping at European markets because when you buy something there, it’s closer to being one of a kind than something from any shopping mall.
And isn’t that what everyone wants? To be a bit different, stand out in a good way, to have something that no one else does? That’s how I feel. I don’t like buying things at malls knowing that I could sit next to someone on the bus wearing the same outfit!
The thing with markets, at least the ones in big European cities is you are expected to haggle. The Dutch people tend to be quite good at this as the Dutch are very straightforward to begin with. Then there is me… I am a Dutch citizen, but I was born and raised for the most part in Canada and so I tend to be quite polite and indirect by Dutch standards. At least that is what I thought, but while at the IJ-Hallen market, I managed to haggle for the first time in my life, and I even ended up saving myself a whole three euros. It wasn’t about the money so much as about the satisfaction I felt knowing that I could successfully haggle in Dutch. Maybe I am more Dutch than I thought!
I went to several markets while I was staying in Amsterdam with my Aunt and Uncle this past week. I visited the well-known Waterlooplein flea market in the city center of Amsterdam as well as the IJ-Hallen in North of the city, which happens to be the biggest flea market in all of Europe and has 750 stalls.
I went to other smaller markets spread out over the city too as markets are really everywhere; they are like little treasures that you stumble across while walking places. Even my Dutch home base in the small town of Wijchen has a market that happens every Thursday morning. I live on the market square, so I am able to look out my window and witness the bustling of people through the tent-covered rows of stalls with out having to be down there myself.
There are people calling out prices and greeting you as you go by; they sell everything from buttons, to cloth, to fresh fish, vegetables, cooking wear, and *“stroopwaffels” being made right in front of you. It smells like a carnivals, with the strong aromas of food, cooking. It’s a summer smell.
A couple favourite items I acquired at the market include vintage panther cigar boxes, a yellow and black vinyl bag and some old records.