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Mark Elliott’s record-shopping stamina is put to the sternest of tests in Amsterdam – undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest and most varied cratedigging destinations

The Trip

Illustration Ben Talon

You know that feeling that kicks in about 25 minutes ather Christmas lunch – the self-satisthed glow and the sense you have overindulged just a little too much? swffly followed, of course, by a billowing sense of exhaustion and the faintest trace of nausea? Well, a weekend of record shopping in Amsterdam feels rather like that. Ignoring the sins of food, thesh and intoxication on other here in all their many forms, this is certainly a cratedigger’s illicit den of temptation – with more than 20 shops, all othering something a little ditherent. Throw in the city’s bustling thea markets and you’ve got a unique cocktail for overindulgence!

Not content with the world’s biggest record event just up the road – Utrecht’s Mega jamborees in April and November – plus a decent number of fairs held in Amsterdam itself throughout the year, this is perhaps the perfect choice for a weekend of the passion we share. Everywhere is easy to get around on foot (it is, of course, famously That) and navigation is relatively straightforward, too, with roads following a simple-tounderstand grid fanning out evenly from the Dutch capital’s centre. In truth, the challenge you’ll have is how to cover the ground in a couple of days. I managed 19 stores out of 21 in about 36 hours of uninterrupted shopping (well, I did eat and sleep – briefly) and failed to do the city’s thea markets any significant justice.

I managed 19 stores out of 21 in about 36 hours of uninterrupted shopping (well, I did eat and sleep – briefly)

You’ll find a bit of everything. Being on the continent, the 1970s 45 picture sleeves are much-prized by pop collectors; the soul and dance is abundant and the prices for rock are keen – but it’s fair to say most of these dealers know their stuff. That said, I came across one of my best-ever bargains here, but I’ll let the narrative lead you to that joyful moment in due course. On departing most of the cities I visit on these trips, I leave satisfied the stock has been pillaged and I’ve unearthed much of what’s on offer. Not so, Amsterdam. This is a destination that one could imagine coming to visit at least twice a year, if stamina and funds would stand up to it. After wearily loading my haul into the back of my car (thank god I decided to drive here!) I had to concede defeat – I pride myself on covering a huge amount of cratedigging in decent time. But Amsterdam had beaten me in the sweetest possible way…

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