Once upon a time, some 11 years ago, I made a friend in Spain with a Dutch girl named Wendy. The following year, she visited me in Canada where we spent two solid weeks sightseeing. When grocery shopping one evening, as you do, I picked up some gouda cheese and referred to it as such, she burst into a fit of laughter.
All giggles and tears.
I pronounced the mild cheese as ‘goo-dah’, not unlike a lot of non-Dutch residents. However, its correct pronunciation is ‘how-dah’ (with that throat clearing sound emphasizing the ‘h’). Wendy thought this hilarious and a decade later, I smile fondly when I notice in my little bible of a guidebook just how close the town of Gouda is to me. Gouda makes for an excellent day trip from Houten Castellum.
Fast friends during our time living in the Costa del Sol and forever friends now in my estimation, Wendy enlightens me to go to Gouda on a Thursday: the town’s weekly market day with a strong emphasis on cheese selling.
To my dismay, the day started off drizzly with the odd downpour: all umbrellas were out, held by tourists: Dutch and foreigners alike, though by mid afternoon the sun replaced the rain.
I collected some snaps and right at 10 am the kaas (cheese) market commenced.
I was in the front of the crowd and had a great view of the dealings between the seller (the ‘farmer’ in the clogs) and buyer (lab coat). The buyer was a card and hammed it up with a Dutch woman next to me.
No clue what they said, but he then cut a cylindrical sample of cheese from a wheel and got the Dutch woman, myself, and an Italian neighbour to smell it. He realized some of us weren’t Dutch speakers and asked where we were from.
He then cut pieces for all three of us to taste. We gave him the thumbs up and the two men then proceeded to bargain. A whole lot of hand slapping occurs when making an agreement.
Gouda Cheese Museum (1668)
An impressive little tourist shop is housed in the original 17th-century Goudse Waag (cheese-weighting house) building on the north side of the Markt with a pretty thorough museum on cheese and the making of cheese held upstairs. It has an impressive facade, the original relief of which lives in the museum portion of the building. The museum showcases tools and equipment used for making cheese and there is a short video detailing more.
Met a very interesting man whose surname literally translates to ‘from the wild’. I learned that a small percentage of cheese produced by farms (and not a factory) will have inconsistent flavours. The flavour being dependent upon where the cows grazed, the flowers that were present, if any, if it had rained. All the more reason to forever buy cheese.
Stadhuis (Town Hall)
While I didn’t pay to go in, I did take oodles of pics of the mid-15th-century town hall. The beauty of this building shows off the wealth Gouda must have enjoyed back in the day (I hear from trading cloth).
Those shutters though.
Sint Janskerk is the longest church in the Netherlands (123m) and was built so long because the ground was too soft to build up.
Less than a minute outside of the church and it started to downpour. I tucked myself in a corner of the church outside to block myself from the wind and hung out for a solid 10-minutes before getting incredibly bored and deciding to go back inside where it was dry.
I killed some time by revisiting some of the massive (and impressive) stained glass windows while listening to the great organ music played for our personal entertainment.
A church is a church is a church, however, what sets this church apart besides the impressive length, is its stained glass window game. The pretty glass has put Sint Janskerk on the UNESCO list of Dutch monuments.
The Gouda museum is massive. It was a neverending maze of art and curiosities on display within the former old hospital, Catherina Gasthuis.
Black light technology: point the provided flashlight at the floor or wall and see what appears before you. Sadly, it was all in Dutch but the cartoons helped illustrate the gist: torture is not any fun.
Working your way back upstairs there’s a room outfitted with surgery tools and the Chirurgeons Guild cushions (1674) and tapestry. And further along the labyrinth are rooms after rooms of displayed art, pottery, and a fully decked out old-school apothecary.
Once outside, I took advantage of the quiet and went camera happy.
With purchased farm-fresh nettle spiced Gouda in tow, I was on my way home to enjoy the deliciousness that is cheese.