An important part of any trip for me is to pick up gifts and souvenirs for friends and family back at home. I love shopping for such gifts and am always on the lookout for items that are local and unique. Things that will actually take you down the memory lane revisiting that place or remind the other person (who’s been the recipient of that gift) of you and that place.
During my recent trip to Amsterdam I came across one such unique Dutch souvenir – Tulip bulbs. While randomly walking around the city we reached the Bloemenmarkt. It is claimed that this is the world’s only floating flower market, though I am not so sure considering I have heard similar stories of Srinagar in Kashmir. This market was founded in 1862, on the canals of Singel in the city’s southern canal belt. It has many florist, gardening and souvenir shops located inside a row of floating barges.
For me this place was like a colorful and fragrant treasure trove. It had tulip bulbs for tulips in every colour, bulbs for several other house plants, seeds, vegetables and gardening essentials including the garden gnomes. They even had cut flowers. It is said that no matter what your favorite flower is, you will find it here. We had a fabulous time just walking through the aisles in wonderment at the sheer variety available and mixing and matching of bulbs (you can buy them in sets to have mult colored flowers) for gifting purposes. Initially we were not sure whether they will flower in India (with the climate etc) but the shopkeeper guided us that we can store these bulbs in the fridge till we have our cooler season and then plant them. Since we were planning to take the bulbs out of country, the shop keeper asked us to put a customs cleared stamp on the packet so we won’t have any trouble at the border. Though we didn’t get one we still didn’t have any issues with taking them out of Netherlands or bringing them into India.
Besides flowers, there are a number of shops around here that sell nice affordable souvenirs, such as local cheese, magnets, clogs etc. We picked up some of these items too and everything was loved by each of its lucky recipients.
Though this is not a stop on the typical touristy trail of Amsterdam, I definitely recommend a quick stop and stroll through this market on your next trip to Amsterdam.
Quick Tip – Although all shops sell pretty much the same things, prices do vary a lot between the stalls, especially for the souvenirs, so have a look at each stall before buying anything.