I'm not sure how we found out about the IJ-Hallen Flea Market outside of Amsterdam, either through a blog reader (if so, THANK-YOU!) or Ethan found it. We had lots of info about flea markets going into this trip. But this one is apparently the largest flea market in the Netherlands (!) and it was going to be happening the day after we arrived. We got very lucky.
If you plan on visiting the city, here's how you get to the market: take a free NDSM ferry from Amsterdam Central Station (the ferry ride was an event in itself for us. Tons of people gathering around, many on their bikes (of course), some on scooters (scooters are becoming more and more popular over there) and some even in tiny cars (only in Europe!) all waiting to board the ferry in hopes of snagging a treasure at the flea market. It was fantastic people watching. And people watching is our favorite thing to do when traveling.
Admission to the market is €4.00 and only €1.50 for children 12 and younger. They do have snacks and drinks you can buy.
The ferry takes you over the IJ river and to Amsterdam-Noord. The area surrounding the flea market is really cool in itself, with huge shipping containers stacked everywhere and lots of other colorful maritime objects dotting the area.
The flea market is HA-UUGE. I don't think we even saw everything. And we were there for a good few hours. Ethan is always a good spirit about doing these things with me but I felt like, 3 hours, was enough, poor guy. (ha) The market didn't disappoint either. I don't know about you, but I'm finding more and more that places are just overpriced in America when it comes to vintage finds.. even at flea markets sometimes. (of course some places call themselves "flea markets" but they really aren't). So I went into it in Amsterdam, really not knowing how things would be priced. People are getting smarter when selling vintage goods!
But items were priced just how they should be at a flea market! (huge sigh of relief) Of course we were paying in Euros (oh how I missed paying with the Euro. You have more respect for the COIN when you're in Europe. Our poor coins are kind of neglected.) I can honestly say that I didn't overpay for any vintage item that I purchased on this entire trip. THAT was refreshing. Because I find myself overpaying for many vintage items in the States more and more, or either I just don't buy anything at all.
This girl had THE most amazing booth there. You could tell she knew the good stuff. ; ) I definitely had a hard time not snatching up a lot of things. Lots of Danish/Scandinavian patterns, designs, colors, and lots of 60s/70s kitsch. (be.still.my.beating.heart)
This booth below was awesome because her things were priced DIRT CHEAP. She had some amaaazing kitchenware that if I had more room in my suitcase, I would've snatched up. They were unique pieces, pieces I only see sold online by Swedish or Dutch sellers. I did buy a couple things from her that I'll share in my "Loot" post when I'm done with all of my other travel posts! Just getting to see these items in person was such a kick for me, honestly. She was selling that entire set of purple melamine below (?) for only a few Euros. (!!!!)
You know what the best thing was that I took away from going to flea markets and thrift stores in the Netherlands and Belgium? Getting to see what their childhood was like. The small remnants from the life of a Dutch boy or Belgian girl. I LOVED looking through their books and comic books for this reason. They read a lot of the same stories, but I loved seeing the Dutch text. Or they might have similar characters, but with a slightly different slant or look to them. There was of course a lot of Miffy! Their Miffy was equivalent to our Hello Kitty or Winnie the Pooh (although not either originating in the US) etc. And I didn't know this, but did you know the Smurfs originated in Belgium? : )
I've had a lot of people ask me "How did you not buy *everything*? How did you not bring it all home with you?" Honestly, I've been working on a new philosophy when it comes to buying in general. We are trying to save, save, save so that we can buy a house next Spring and over the past few months, I've looked around my house am seeing more and more that my house is looking like a thrift store. Or antique mall. Or what-have-you.
And that was never my intention. It's time to purge, purge (and you get to take advantage of that in some large online yard sales that I'll be having throughout the rest of the year). I'm just not feeling so much of what I've bought (even if it was cheap, doesn't mean you should buy it) and I'm wanting to be more thoughtful in what I bring into our home. And edit. I actually don't go to thrift stores hardly at all anymore. The "thrifting" bug that is rampant across blogland I think has hit it's wall for me. I will always check out thrift stores, but wow, I just can't justify bringing more stuff into my house. (Although I think it's perfectly fine to thrift your heart out when you are a buyer/seller of course!) I want to focus more on larger, statement pieces - pieces I know I can live with for a long time.
More on that another day. Are any of you going through this?
One way I've been able to cure that need to buy something I see instantly (honestly, there was A.L.O.T. I saw on our trip that I wanted to buy) is to TAKE A PHOTO OF IT. I think being a blogger justifies that, too a little. ; ) I feel like I kind of "own" it even if I didn't have to buy it. Know what I mean? I think this is the great thing about Instagram too, take a pic, share it with your friends, but you don't have to buy it, to appreciate it. I also love a lot of the "What I left at the thrift" kind of posts on blogs. You can kind of "claim" it and share it, without spending the cash. And even if it was just a buck or two, that adds up over time. That is something I try to keep in mind.
Some things I purposely look out for when I'm thrifting though, especially when I was on this trip: CHILDREN'S BOOKS. They are truly my most favorite thing to collect. And how often do I get to travel to Europe to check out their books? Not often! So I knew that was one of the most important items I wanted to look for. I found many at the flea markets and thrift stores. And those purchases were very worth it (and at the most, a Euro a book.) I feel that these are unique items, works of art really, SMALL so they don't take up a lot of space - these items are treasures to me.
What sorts of items are priceless to you when you are out looking for treasures?
See more posts from our trip here.