Thirty minutes north of Rhede is the Dutch town of Winterswijk. The drive north is through pretty, tree-lined roads perfect for the unadventurous cyclist as they are all pancake flat.
We parked at one end of the main shopping street, which leads to the market square. It was late on a Saturday morning when we arrived and the townspeople were out in force, increasing in numbers as we got closer to the market.
Away from the market the shops aren’t particularly worthy of any special attention. There is a cheese shop that’s worth nosing around but that’s mainly because cheese shopping in the Netherlands is on a whole different level than in the UK. Entire orange wheels were stacked ceiling high with smaller portions dwarfed by the half and whole wheels that lit up the shop.
As we neared the square, our stroll slowed to a shuffle as we dodged families out for what appeared to be a major weekly event. The market stalls set up around the church sell a myriad of goods: flowers, fruit, vegetables, herbs, cleaning products, paintings, dodgy antiques and a wide selection of fish. The far side of the market is almost completely dedicated to the sale of fish and it is also possible to get some cooked to order for a lunch snack. Calamari, fishcakes that looked like sun-tanned hockey pucks, fries and also bratwurst were all being grilled and sold to the hungry crowds. On the other side of the church was another popular stall selling ‘Berliner Bollen’, a sweet, doughnut like snack filled with cream and other delicious inserts. We bought one with custard cream and black cherry although I would be tempted to get a bag of five next time.
We wandered around the market with our Berliners in hand, enjoying the sights and sounds of the market. Two men operated a hand-cranked organ that they moved up and down the street, evoking a carnival atmosphere. Across the square from them was a small carousel for young children playing obnoxiously loud techno music and as we left the fish aisle, a brass band was striking up a tune. I don’t remember when I was last in a place that had such musical competition in its town centre.
We had a coffee at the Stad Munster Hotel. They occupy a prime place in the market and offer an ideal stopping place for tired shoppers. Unfortunately both the service and coffee here are terrible so while it may be convenient, it is not worth the pain or the money.
We stopped for some bratwurst and some French fries (soaked in ketchup and mayonnaise) and while the trailer that they were served from didn’t look very inspiring, both were very good and I have to admit, the seafood also looked tempting. While Winterswijk is inland, the coast is only about two hours away and the display cases were full with a fascinating variety of fish and shellfish.
I don’t know if the market is open on other days of the week but if it definitely makes a good lunch stop and provides and hour or two of interesting distraction on a Saturday.