Saturday, February 5, 2011

A trip to the market...

...occurs twice per week--on Tuesdays and Saturdays. This is not just your regular market. Located in the center of the city, on a street called Binnenrotte, the market spans about 1/2 kilometer (1/3 mile) and over 500 vendors come from all over Zuid Holland to post up their goods for the whole day. People from all over the city flock to the market, especially on Saturday, to get everything from fresh fish to pears, flowers to eggs, antiques to shaving cream. Luckily, it's right in our neighborhood! 

Just to give you a sense of our neighborhood, here are some of the highlights:

1. Our apartment
2. Local grocery store and the huge organic foods store
3. Adorable Meent and Pannekoeke Straat shops and cafes
4. Oude Haven's (the Old Harbor) bars and restaurants
5. Blaak train station and tram to Erasmus University
6. Our gym
7. So much shopping you couldn't even handle it.

The river Rotte--yes, the namesake of the city--once flowed where the market is today. In the late 1800s the river was filled in to accommodate railway lines, and then nearly every building in the entire city was destroyed in the May 1940 bombing. This neighborhood now shows an interesting mix of the old and new and has been a focal point for revitalization in the last decade or so. The restored Laurens Kerk (church) and the Witte Huis (to the left of the church, in the way background) offers a historical backdrop to the more modern high rise apartment buildings and the unique (enough said) architecture of the pencil building, cube houses, and Pompidou-like library.  

The Binnenrotte Market, a view from Anél's apartment

I love many things about this market. For one, like I said, you can find anything here. Second, it's very reasonably priced. Third, everything is so fresh that you have to consume it quickly before it starts to go off. I've heard from others that our market is the best in terms of quality, selection, and price because Rotterdam is the 'gateway to Europe.' The Port of Rotterdam is the largest in Europe--so that means we get first pickings off the boats. Despite the fantastic quality of the market, there are some downsides as well. Like the crowds. And the fact that lots of the produce is from Chile and Colombia. And the millions of plastic bags all the vendors stubbornly force on customs. And, for the most part, you really have to know what you want to purchase beforehand--the vendors are not patient (almost rude) and neither are the other customers (who know exactly what they want to purchase). 

Quick side story. Arden and I were taking a look at some fabric. The vendor came over and asked us in Dutch if we needed help and Arden politely replied in Dutch, 'We're just looking, thank you.' The man quickly retorted that this is for 'buying only' and if we want to just look we should go to the Kijk Shop (literally, 'looking shop'). Then he shoo'd us away! We were so stunned all we could do was laugh! Is this guy serious?!? Yes, he was very serious. Nevertheless, this market is amazing and an incredible asset to the city and neighborhood, and is essential for daily living in Rotterdam.  

Instead of rambling on and on about this market, here are some pictures of what it has to offer...and better yet, come visit and I'll give you a personal tour!

Any and all types of fruits, vegetables, and sweets--like stroopwafels fresh of griddle. YUM. 

Dozens of flowers--for cheap! 

Sequins, fabrics, and thread--oh my! 

Spices by the kilo, fresh fish, oysters off the grill, and yes of course--CHEEEEESE

Pots and pans, razors, and things made of fur 

Hair pieces, boxers, bodysuits, and boots


  1. Meredith, this looks amazing!!! i can already imagine you walking through the market perusing through the flowers and fruits! haha...but jeez dutch people are all about their business!
    anyways! I'm glad you're having a good time there! Berkeley was definitely getting too old for you

  2. Meredith: Great photos - very colorful. As to the rudeness of vendors, the Dutch are known to not mince any words and typically are blunt, direct and to the point. But that's just who they are. It might make an interesting blog subject to compare Dutch and American cultural habits. Keep up the good work.


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