A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
It’s Saturday! Did you go the market today? It’s become one of my Leiden rituals. Every Saturday morning after the gym I go along to the market to see what delights are on offer. Fruit and vegetables, colourful textiles, fresh flowers, stinky fish and yummy treats, it’s definitely the best way to start the weekend.
New to Leiden? Every Saturday the market lines the canal in front of the city hall, along the Nieuwe Rijn and Botermarkt. Every Wednesday there is also a smaller market in the same place. Aim for the big bridge next to Einstein’s, or the Australian icecream shop near the V&D department store and you’ll find it. Here’s a handy guide to help you find your way around.
First, there are a few main areas:
Fruit and vegetables
I have to admit, on days when the snow/rain is falling (like today), I tend to limit my market trip to the fruit and veg stalls before making a hasty retreat back indoors. The fruit and veg market is all along the Botermarkt, from the large bridge outside Einstein’s to the end of the market towards Hoogvliet. It all tends to be cheaper than in the supermarkets and depending on the season you can get some really good deals- look out for the cheap mangoes and avocados in summer. One stall sells bowls of fruit and veg for only one euro per bowl. Bargain!
The flowers are on the opposite side of the canal to the fruit and vegetables, near the fish. Again, depending on the season you can get some fresh flowers or potted plants to brighten up your student dorm room. A couple of weeks ago I bought some almond blossom branches in the vain hope of encouraging spring. In about a month the market will be a sea of tulips.
Onwards to the smelly end of the market. The fish can be found on the Nieuwe Rijn, past the flowers. Here you can buy fresh seafood for dinner, grab a plate of fried kibbeling, or try pickled herring with onions, Dutch style. A word of warning: this area of the market really really does stink by the end of the day, and even in the evening it is truly worth avoiding walking here, as the day’s fishy aroma will follow you for the rest of the night…
This part of the market is in front of the city hall. Here you can buy material, thread, knitting wool and needles, 70s style patches for your corduroy flares, and pearlised buttons for your next craft project.
Apart from these main areas, there are several other types of stalls dotted all around the market selling clothes, cheese stalls, olives and hummus, nuts, bike parts, health foods and bakery goods. It is worth a wander just to see what you can find.
A final word to the wise: Bring cash. The nearest cashpoints to the market are in Maarsmansteeg (the small street in between Bagels and Beans and V&D) and the in the fish part of the market, but expect a long wait for either one.