GOUDA, THE NETHERLANDS: The name itself makes my mouth watery instantly. The city is world-wide famous for its Gouda CHEESE. Other than that, Gouda is a typical yet a pleasant Dutch village and a very popular destination for a day trip. Its old buildings, calm canals, big market place were truly entertaining.
TIME OF TRAVELLING: My parents came to visit us in Belgium in May 2012. The Netherlands was our first destination and Gouda was our first city to give them some Dutch experiences. Not to mention my dad loves cheese, so he absolutely fell in love with Gouda. Luckily, the weather was incredibly nice that day, I enjoyed every moment of being in the market place in the old town of Gouda.
OUR HOTEL: We stayed in Holiday Inn in Leiden, which was about half an hour drive from Gouda. It was a very big and spacious place to accommodate you with free parking and huge play areas for children. The location was great, because Leiden is less than half an hour drive from other Dutch cities like Rotterdam, Gouda, The Hague, Utrecht, and Delft. All of these places are perfect to experience real Dutch culture and people.
WHAT TO EAT AND BUY IN GOUDA: What else would you want to eat and buy in Gouda other than eating and buying more and more of Gouda cheese? If you are there on a Saturday, you can buy cheese from the market place for great prices. They can vacuum seal the cheese, so it doesn’t go bad even if it’s outside for a day or two. Also try out their battered fried fishes and raw herring sandwich…they are so yummy.
PLACES WE VISITED:We spent about half a day in Gouda. Sampling and buying Gouda cheese was our number one priority in this trip, and we did it as much as we could (sampling free cheese that is) 🙂
1) STADHUIS (OLD TOWN HALL): This is located in the market square and is the oldest Gothic town hall in the Netherlands. It dates back to 1448. Presently it is a museum. Don’t miss the little puppet show on one side of this building that takes place every hour.
2) ST. JANSKERK (ST. JOHN’S CHURCH): This Gothic church is standing there from the 16th century. It’s the longest church in the Netherlands and is a UNESCO World Heritage site for its famous stained glass windows from the 16th century, also known as “Gouda Windows”. These windows depict scenes from the bible and the city itself. The church is pretty big and very beautifully decorated with big chandeliers and lots of paintings. It also houses many graves of Gouda’s well-off citizens, just look at the floor for their tombstones.
The church is open from 10-5 everyday and closed on Sunday. The entry fee is 4.50 euros per person and 10 euros for whole family.
3) MARKET SQUARE: The market square is the main spot for tourists and a lively place for locals to hang out and shop. There is a big farmer’s market that takes place here every Saturday and is open until 5 pm. You will find fresh produces, clothes, purses, food stalls, and ofcourse cheeses. We saw some Dutch girls in their traditional outfit giving away free samples of cheese (they don’t mind if you go take pictures with them). Old Town Hall adds beauty to this square with its Gothic look and bright red colored windows.
4) DE WAAG (CHEESE WEIGHING HOUSE): This is also located in the market square on the rear side of Stadhuis. This was built in 1668 and has mainly served as a place for weighing cheeses. Presently, it is a museum of…well, CHEESE!!! It also has a big cheese store inside selling variety of Dutch cheeses.