It’s been our habit to head across town to the Noodermarkt every Saturday morning. It’s not really in our neighborhood, but it’s a nice bike ride. Around 11am, the streets along the harbor are clear of the usual crowd, and the air is crisp and lovely. Today was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for riding around.

The Noordermarkt is only one of several Amsterdam markets, but so far it’s the one we like best, probably because it reminds us of Portland’s Saturday morning market at the Park Blocks. A lot of Amsterdam markets sell clothes, shampoo, and nylons along with their fresh fish, which is great for deals, but not always as cute. This one is more of a true farmer’s market with piles of vegetables, jars of local honey, delicious smells wafting from the bakery cart, and old omas carrying their goods in woven baskets.

One booth sells homemade sauces out of big ceramic pots. Options are scrawled on chalkboard signs saying salsa verde, pesto, harissa, and coriander sauce. We went for the Tomatillo Salsa, and received two scoops in a glass jar. We can bring it back for a refill, he said. We will, we said. A few rows down we walked past a booth selling cheese, and had to give in. When you see little hearts of chevre in such a sweet basket, how can you resist?

The market sells antiques and vintage clothes, as well, which is always worth a look. Especially the book stalls with old brown books in different languages. So far I haven’t found an excuse to get a history of Holland in German, but it’s so pretty it might come home with me someday anyway.

On the way home we took our time riding along the canals, enjoying the sun and the crisp air. It was one of those days that’s truly chilly, but stand in the sunshine and you immediately warm up. We followed the Prinsengracht canal all the way south until it ran into the Amstel canal, then turned north for home.

I love riding around these canals. Up and down the rounded bridges, slowly swerving around people, watching the light filter through the leaves. It’s a good chance to remind myself that I live here, and life is good. It’s not that I doubted, it’s just that life is life wherever you live, and it’s often dull and tiresome and hard work. So it’s good to have the chance to remind yourself that you love it. Even better if that chance includes the sunlight bouncing off canals, the cool air in your face, a heart of chevre in your bag, and a city to explore.