Sunday, September 28, 2008

Amsterdam Flower Market

Our best fare on our way back from Norway involved a 24-hour layover in Amsterdam. Since what we saved would be more than the hotel room, we thought, why not? We'd get to see one more Western European city (a little of it, anyway), and break up our marathon flight.

Amsterdam is charming. It's built over canals, like Venice (one of its nicknames is "Venice of the North"--do you think they call Venice "Amsterdam of the South"?), but the canals are more narrow. Our hotel was near the Singel canal, which is the oldest canal in the city.

Singel canal

Amsterdam is a medieval city, but most of the buildings in the part of town we stayed in date from the 16th and 17th centuries. It's a small city, but heavily populated--I took most of these pictures in the morning, before the crowds came out onto the streets.

On the Singel canal

Still, someone was up--I've tagged this next one "Got Milk?"

Got milk?

But the coolest thing about the Singel canal--to me, anyway--was that it leads to the Amsterdam Flower Market, which is several blocks long and built out over the canal. This is the back side, from across the canal--with the front side painted on.

Back of Flower Market close

Notice the tops of the tall buildings (probably former warehouses)--I'll talk more about those in a minute.

Back of Flower Market

The flower market was gardener's paradise--cut flowers, potted flowers, bulbs, seeds--it was hard to be satisfied with pictures. Here's one of my favorites, black dahlias:

Black Dahlia

Black Dahlia

Some gorgeous sunflowers:


Lilies, lilies, lilies:


Crocosmia and chocolate cosmos:

Crocosmia and Chocolate cosmos

I very carefully took a picture of the bulb package next to this plant--but I didn't get the species name in the frame, so I don't know what it is! I assume it's some kind of lily--the cultivar is called "Gloriosa Rothschildiana":

Gloriosa Rothschildiana

Carniverous plants were very popular, especially pitcher plants:

Pitcher Plant

And bulbs everywhere:

More Bulbs

There are very strict regulations about which bulbs may be brought back into the U.S., and they're not the most interesting ones. And that's all I have to say about that.


We did see a few sites beyond the flower market. Here's one of those buildings I mentioned earlier--see the decorative gismo at the top?

An apartment with crane

Here's a close-up. It's a little crane--when these were warehouses (they seem to be apartments now), barges would come down the canals, moor next to the building, and the cranes would haul the goods up into the warehouse. Salix could be a tour guide.


We saw other sites--and sights! This is a statue of Multatuli, pen name of Eduard Dekker, a famous satirist and critic of Dutch colonialism in the East Indies (Indonesia):


This gorgeous building is now a shopping mall:

Shopping mall

This is the Westerkirk, where Rembrandt is reputedly buried:


We didn't see nearly as much of the city as we would have liked, because we were there for only an afternoon and evening and because I spent so much time in the Flower Market. We missed some of the things for which the city is famous, like Anne Frank's house and the Van Gogh museum. But we did get some sense that Amsterdam is a bit of a party town (the beer for two euro was SUCH a deal after the $12 beers in Norway!):

You are sober, we can help

We couldn't figure out what this building was--we think apartments--maybe the tenants frequent the coffee shops? (more on those in a minute)


Salix at the Torture Museum (actually, the real torture museum for him was probably the third hour in the Flower Market--but he's got quite a high threshold, Salix does)--

Salix at the torture museum

Anyway, to make up for all the time spent smelling the flowers, I took him to the famous red light district--BEFORE the red lights came on:

Red light district

Of course, Amsterdam is also famous for its coffeeshops, where you can in fact get coffee (they can't sell alcohol in them anymore). But that's not the main attraction (and the cafes are a, umm, less edgy place to get your cappucino). I loved the names of the coffeehouses, like Amnesia. Or Grey Area. Or this one, the Grasshopper:

Grasshopper coffeeshop

Or "Homegrown Fantasy":

Homegrown Fantasy coffeeshop

And just in case you think the "homegrown" might be false advertising, back to the Flower Market for a moment:

Cannabis Seed!

The "Starter Kit" comes with a "User Manual" (hmm)--and yes, the label in this next shot does say "Canned Cannabis."

So Amsterdam has a whole other kind of flower power going on.
It's taken me a month to post a day's worth of photographs--in part because I'm spending every spare, precious, cool early fall moment in the garden. My next post won't be so exotic (or probably interesting)--but back to my back yard for awhile. Still, Europe is wonderful and I can't wait to get back!


Anonymous said...

What a huge assortment of bulbs & flowers at that market. I would love to visit Amsterdam someday. Thanks for sharing your trip.

tina said...

What a fun post! We vacationed in Amsterdam while we lived in Germany. It was an easy drive and do you know I never made it to the Flower Market? We did see Keukenhof and Madurodam though. That flower market looks pretty cool and yes, I agree it kind of looks like Salix must be in pain. lol Good thing he is a good sport. 3 hours at the flower market? Did you buy anything-those Dutch cannabis starter kits for example? Just kidding to anyone reading this! I hated it we could not bring plants back from overseas. I have a post on it soon too. I never noticed those crane contraptions. Pretty cool. Yup, I seem to remember the coffee houses had a flower power thingy going on. Tell Salix he is lucky to even see the red light district, day or night. Mr. Fix-it wanted to see it but alas, we never made it. You fit in TONS in your short layover. You must've been exhausted! And you did such a good job taking pictures and sharing it all too.

Entangled said...

Thanks for the tour - the spouse has been to Amsterdam, but I haven't. He never mentioned the flower market!

The Gloriosa lily is such a cool plant. I've grown it a couple of times from Brent & Becky's Bulbs, but since it isn't hardy here and I didn't dig it up, I don't have it any more. It's a vine-y sort of thing and it climbs by twining the leaf tips around whatever is nearby. They come in yellow/orange/red colors and I think Rothschildiana is the darkest of the reds.

beckie said...

What a gorgeous city! I loved the buildings with all their old world charm even if the one is now a mall. I can imagine walking along the canal and soaking in the atmoshere. But the favorite for me has to be the flower market with those beautiful black dahlias, exotic flowers,(chocolate cosmos!!) and all those different bulbs. Now if you could have brought hem back you'd have been in heaven! Great tour and beautful pictures. Thanks for taking us along.

Les, Zone 8a said...

I wish all layovers were like yours. I have been wanting to go to Amsterdam and the Netherlands for years. Primarily because of its culture, history, art, and especially for my interest in gardening and the fact that their country is one of the horticultural centers of the universe. However, there was a time when I would have gone just for the coffee shops. Thanks for sharing your trip.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Your photos are wonderful. That old world charm is something I can't get enough of.

The flower market--what a fun place. The black dahlias are so striking.

Thank you so much for this mini trip to Amsterdam.

Cosmo said...

Hi, everyone--I'm glad you enjoyed my recap of our all too brief visit.

Racquel, there were DOZENS of stalls--with time, space, and the permission of the US Govt, I could have filled all 10 acres!

Tina--Didn't you love Amsterdam? I wish in a way I hadn't stalled for SO long in the Flower Market--but yes, my Salix is very patient. I want to go back and take in all the museums. I did get something that no one will want to smoke--maybe it will be up for a spring bloom day (I hope so anyway). I can't imagine actually going IN to a coffeeshop--there's enough of a contact high just walking past them!

Wow, Entangled, I think I'll have to investigate the Gloriosa since I can buy it here. I thought it was beautiful. How's your downsizing going?

Beckie, it was an amazing place--both the city and the Flower Market. I'm going to find a black dahlia somewhere--I just loved it.

Les, it's an incredible city--very progressive, even for Europe. And so beautiful--I'm going back as soon as I can find a way, because we actually didn't get into any gardens, and apparently the tulip fields are just spectacular. And as I said, you don't actually have to go to the coffeeshops--they pretty much come to you if you're within a block!

Hi, Marnie--thanks for joining me on my trip! It's nice to be home, though, and elbow deep in my own dirt.

Rose said...

What a fascinating city! I always think of tulips when I think of Holland; the Flower Market looks like a gardener's paradise. Those black dahlias are gorgeous--too bad you couldn't bring any of those back with you.
It's hard to see a whole city in one afternoon and evening, but looks like you managed to fit in lots of sights, even with the three-hour Flower Market visit:)

By the way, don't worry about not having time to visit everyone regularly right now; I can certainly empathize with being busy at work. I find that even when I substitute teach just two days a week, I get behind on everything else. Don't know how I used to do it full-time:)

Gail said...

Cosmo, What a fascinating city...culture and 'garden culture'. I remember the frustration of wanting to bring a few things with me from France!

The Black Dahlia would be a wonderful flower in the garden! Very intense and rich.

Thanks for a great tour!


Entangled said...

Cosmo, the downsizing at the northern garden continues, although I think I'll probably end up with a larger garden area in total as I keep expanding the southern garden. With the cooler weather I feel like digging again.

Defining Your Home said...

Your blog is fabulous! I've been so busy gardening, that I'm trying to catch up on my reading. I'm adding your garden to my blog list! Cameron

Layanee said...

I haven't yet been to Amsterdam although it is on the list. The black dahlias are dramatic. You should have taken a bouquet to the Torture Museum for laughs.

Bek said...

Unfortunately I never had a layover long enough to be able to get into the city. What a great use of time! Very nice post!

Viooltje said...

What a delightful tour. It was such a pleasure traveling with Cosmo-tours. Half way through the post, possibly somewhere with the photos of bulbs galore, I could hardly control excessive salivation. What a treat for any gardener. Thanks for reviving my wonderful memories of Amsterdam... and homegrown LOL!


The Organic Gardener said...

That is so cool, I wish I was there for the flower market. did you get allot of seeds, or do they have regulations on that as well?
Did you go on a cruse?


singapore florist said...

i'd like to visit there someday.