Filed under: amsterdam market, Shopping, things to see in Amsterdam, tulips
Amsterdam’s Floating Flower Market
Buckets of fiery red tulips, mauve hyacinths and golden daffodils cluster the stalls. Sweet scents mingle and fill the passage. You will see tourists clutching maps and asking each other “is this it?” The answer is yes. They have found the floating flower market but were expecting something larger and grander.
After reading recommendations in tourist brochures and guidebooks, the floating flower market can be a bit of a disappointment. To begin with, the market is only 300 metres long and you can’t tell from the street that it is floating because the barges are so closely moored together. You are much more likely to meet other tourists than locals and while it is called flower market half the stalls sell clogs, wooden tulips, fridge magnets, garden gnomes and Delftware.
However, you will find buckets of gorgeous tulips and daffodils and rows of potted plants. Bunches of flowers change hands as fast as they are wrapped. Silent garden gnomes give approving looks to flower-loving tourists. The locals on the other hand tend not to buy here because the prices are steep by Amsterdam standards.
Although the floating flower market has become a tourist attraction, it used to play a very important role in the flower industry. From mid 19th century, bulb and flowers growers sailed up the Amstel River, moored at Singel Canal and sold their cut flowers and plants from their boats. Today, the stalls are still floating on barges but they are permanently moored and much of the wholesale industry has moved to the Aalsmeer flower auction.
The Dutch flower industry remains a thriving business. Holland is the largest exporter of cut flowers in the world. The Aalsmeer Flower Auction handles 19 million flowers and 2 million potted plants a day. Flowers and plants are swiftly transported to nearby Schiphol Airport and flown all over the world. If you have bought tulips, daffodils or lilies from your local florist, they probably came from Holland.
While exporting is a major industry, lots of flowers stay in Holland. You could almost say the Dutch speak “flower.” If the Dutch want to say thank you or patch up a quarrel, they give flowers. When you are invited to dinner at a Dutch home, you say thank you by bringing flowers for your hostess. Where others would send a greeting card, the Dutch say it with flowers.
During your visit to Amsterdam, check out the wonderful blossoms at the flower market stalls. Dig through the rows of flower bulbs, buy that funky gnome or stock up on pre-packed bulbs with instructions how to plant then in six languages. Or simply buy a bunch of golden daffodils to cheer up your hotel room.
If you can’t get enough of tulips which have become synonymous with Holland, visit the Tulip Museum or the Flower Market at Amstelveld. Still hungry for more? Tour the Keukenhof Flower Gardens. Great drifts of dazzlingly coloured tulips bloom from mid-April to mid-May. Each spring Keukenhof explodes into a rainbow of colours when 80,000 tulips grab the limelight.
WHAT: Floating Flower Market
WHERE: along Singel Canal, between Muntplein and Koningsplein (map)
WHEN: daily 9 am – 5 pm, some stalls close on Sunday
WHAT: Amsterdam Tulip Museum
WHERE: Prinsengracht 112 (map)
WHEN: open daily 10.00-18.00
WHAT: Flower and potted Plants Market
WHERE: Amstelveld (map)
WHEN: Monday mornings, 09.00 – 14.30
WHAT: Keukenhof Flower Garden
WHERE: Stationsweg 166, Lisse
WHEN: until 16 May 2010
prepacked tulip bulbs and red tulips personal collection
canalside view nhurto @ flickr
bicycle Maxnathans @flickr