Alkmaar, The Netherlands

14 Apr
Alkmaar, The Netherlands

Alkmaar, The Netherlands

This small town north of Amsterdam, is a cultural delight. Famous for its Gouda cheese market, this town also offers a variety of restaurants, smooth canals from which to discover its cultural beauty, and a welcoming nitelife with festive locals. I only spent the night but got to see its personality. I enjoyed my visit and still remember a decade later.

From Amsterdam Centrale station you can lake a local train 45 kms north, with the centre of old town only a 10-15 minute walk from the station. The town itself is very walkable being only one kilometer from east to west. In a small boat I spent the afternoon cruising the canals, admiring many of it’s bridges, being careful to duck my head at the low slung ones, and saw how many local residents lived. In townhouses tall and lean, all sitting in water at their bases, I thought of Venice, although at this time I had not yet visited that city. Some lived in houseboats that lined our path. Cute and small their decks were sunny and charming. Eating at a good Mexican place I spent the evening dancing up a storm with a bunch of strangers who were locals, dancing as in my youth, with everyone interacting and enjoying themselves on the dance floor all to the same beat.

The next morning an old tradition had begun to pile up in the square. Stacks of large wheels of Gouda in all flavours lined the centre square, row upon row taking up almost half the space. The old weighhouse had its doors open, offials were standing about, some were walking the rows inspecting the wheels. Under the side tents, producers were calling out their types of cheese in front of tables of all kinds of Gouda flavours for sale in smaller wheels. It was Friday and the cheese market day had begun.

As men carried the stacks of Gouda wheels to and from the weighhouse, weighing each load, the buyers began discussions with the producers. The square was packed full of tourists, walking outside string barriers on the perimeter of the rows, commenting on how large the cheese rounds were and speculating on how expensive. Slowly they made their way to the tents and after sampling cumin, paprika, and smoke infused slices of Gouda cheese, everyone bought something. The cheese was too yummy not to!

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3 Responses to “Alkmaar, The Netherlands”

  1. Alphonso Demagistris April 15, 2011 at 16:44 #

    Took me sometimes to read some the comments, any way I actually enjoyed the post. It proved to be pretty useful to me and I am positive to all the commenters right here! It’s all the time good when you can not only be informed, but also entertained!

    • Barbazon April 18, 2011 at 19:02 #

      Thanks! That is exactly my goal to entertain, and to inform but also to uplift the spirit.

  2. Online Portfolio April 14, 2011 at 19:18 #

    Thank you..really informative!!

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