This cute, little town is the home of the world re-known Gouda cheese. It is approximately one hour & 45 minutes train ride away from Amsterdam. Seeing that it is located in the South of Holland, it quite pricey to get to by public transport, with the average price of the round trip around €22. If you are as lucky as me, you can get a 1-day unlimited travel across the Netherlands for only €14 at Kruidvat or even Albert Heijn supermarkets.
At first glance it looks like a very ordinary residential area, as the train station is in that kind of area. As I walked about 10 minutes to the centre of the town – I went through a tunnel, crossed a busy street, walked across a bridge, made a quick right, looked up and saw cheese everywhere.
I was then in the main shopping street of the town, named Kleiweg. It was a Saturday afternoon, so there were quite a few people shopping, especially seeing that shops had some good “akties”/sales. All of the sudden, as common in the Netherlands, the rain just started pouring down. I managed to find a spot in front of a closed shop on a corner to find some shelter, seeing that I forgot one of my many “paraplu’s”/ umbrellas as home. At that spot I then also met up with me friend, Lerato who joined me on the excursion.
We then proceeded through the street, with light rain falling, where we saw a cute little shop, named “Gouds Kaashuis”. We stopped, got into the “clogs”/dutch traditional shoes for a picture. In the process knocking down one of the cheese blocks, made from plastic, caused a bit of noise and took that as our cue to move along.
The shopping street lead us right into the busy “Markt”/Market square, where the locals were selling and buying their fresh produce, cheese, fruits and even some clothes. Lerato then went into a shop for an umbrella, as it seemed that the rain was persistent.
We walked through “de markt” in the direction of a place called De Gouds Waag/Information centre for what was mentioned on their website as a cheese tasting, paired with wine. It was a beautiful, old-looking building, with some exquisite detail carved in the building and these iconic red window shutters. We went inside, looked around at some of the souveniers of Holland that’s available to buy. After enquiring about the cheese tasting, we were disappointed to hear that they are not able to accommodate us, seeing that they are expecting a big group of 45 people. We were then directed to a restaurant named Restaurant Belvedère, who serves traditional Gouda cheese platters.
It is a charming restaurant that has an inside and outside area. Despite the drizzle, we still opted to sit outside under covers though. The waiter was very kind and accommodative, translating everything from Dutch to English for us where necessary. We shared the cheese platter (€12,50) as our starter, which we ranked best to great as follow:
- “Geiten kaas met kreiden”/Goat cheese with spices;
- “Gouda black label”/Gouda with black label
- “Le Petit Doruevael”/ Cheese with red label
- “Boere’kaas Kampioen”/Farmer’s cheese champion
We also had mains – I had the pancake with ham & cheese & Lerato, a steak with some drinks. We chatted up a storm and at the same time I watched the locals pack up their stands at the market. I was hoping for them to pack everything up and cleaning to occur to be able to see the true beauty of “het old stadhuys Gouda”/townhall in the middle of the square. We paid and went further on our exploration of the town.
From afar and above all the buildings there is one building that sticks out like a sore thumb. As we went down one of the streets from de markt, we walked right into the old, gothic designed church named the Sint Janskerk. It was a pity that we spent so much time at the restaurant and missed the opening times of the church, as I heard it too had magnificent stained glass windows. We also walked passed the Gouda museum, which was also closed at that time. The gateway, built in 1609, was so pretty with a little bridge crossing a canal, with a beautiful, arched closed door and beautiful sculptures above.
All around the town there were such sculptures on buildings and I would have loved to have met a local to tell the legends or stories depicted by them. If I had to guess, it was about a rich family, living in a lap of luxury eating the best food with waiters serving them. One of the sons was a very compassionate person, who wanted to give a poor man some of the food once and the father got very angry with him for even thinking to do such and let the poor man outside to eat with the dogs. The guards of the rich man was ever so content with the cheese they get every now and then. The end:)
We continued walking through the town, with the narrow streets, few people & cars out and houses that looks exactly like the ones in Amsterdam. We walked down a street named “achter de kerk”/behind the church and made up stories on what could have happened in a building that had small, burglar bar windows. This got us talking about our countries history of struggling for equality for all men through the years. We talked about how grateful we are to those struggling icons, such as Nelson Mandela (who’s book “Long walk to freedom” I was in the process of reading). Without their selfless fight, we would not have been able to walk the streets of this small town in Europe. In fact we would not even have been allowed to freely walk the streets, use any restroom, eat at any restaurant, sit in any seat in the bus or train in our own country. #ForeverGrateful
We stopped for a “gelato”/ice-cream at David’s Gelato (Lange Tiendeweg 23, 2801 KE Gouda) for two nice scoops of ice cream (€2,50). We walked through Jeugstraat, which had a small canal where we admired two ducks catching their next meal. We then got into a bus to Woesp station, then a train to Utrecht station & finally a train home. Lerato got off at central station and on a bus home to Amsterdam north. I probably got home around 10:45 and went straight to bed.