Good Times in Gouda
I found a great pedal bike for H on marktplaats that needed to be picked up in Gouda. If we were going to make the 20-min drive to pick up the bike I thought we should pop into the city center and see what we could find.
In full disclosure, I’ve made some amazing friends who help me out with these things. Marktplaats is mostly in Dutch and therefore searching for things leaves me completely overwhelmed. My dear friend K found a great bike and sent me the info. I e-mailed in English, without trouble and made arrangements to pick up the bike. The pickup was easy and we were off to explore Gouda.
We spent our first hour in Gouda trying to find parking. (This is why we typically take the train!) There are a plethora of signs pointing to parking, but the street parking has a 2-hour limit and we could not find the parking deck entrances. Hard-to-find parking is typical Dutch: decks are hidden or underground. We knew there was parking at the train station but continued to end up, literally, on the wrong side of the tracks. An hour later we found our way to the train station parking deck, parked and made the 2-minute walk into town.
Gouda is an adorable Dutch town. We walked right into the city center past a number of cute shops and lunch options. We were heading toward the cheese museum, which sits just off the main market square. The museum is in the old weighing house and is easily identifiable by the marble relief on the front of the building.
De Waag Gouda (the cheese museum, colloquially) costs €4.50/adult. We were the only ones in the museum, which is small and features a wide variety of cheese making equipment. The whole family enjoyed the movie, subtitled in English, which described the cheese making process. The museum also provided us with a list of local farms that you can visit.
The cheese market runs only in the spring and summer, so we will have to come back for a visit to see the festivities.
In the center of the square is the Town Hall. The webpage information said it is open for viewing Tuesday-Sunday, 10am to 5pm, but at 11:30 we found the building locked. The Klokkenspel performs two minutes after the hour and half hour and is worth sticking around for. We fed the kids some snacks while we waited. The kids loved watching the little puppets perform their show. (You can enjoy a video of the clock on our YouTube channel.)
We took a little stroll around town popping our heads into St. John’s Church, the longest church in the Netherlands. St. John’s is famed for its stained glass windows. Most churches’ stained glass came to their fate at the hands of the iconoclastic movement that swept the Netherlands. St. John’s stained glass remains. The man staffing the desk informed us they will be part of the museumkaart program in 2016, so we decided to save our money and return another time.
Our stroll also took us past the Museum Gouda’s sculpture garden and back entrance. We thought we would pop inside, but H announced he was starving. (Our three-year-old can be quite dramatic, not unlike his momma.) We know not to ask the kids to behave on an empty stomach, so we rerouted to lunch.
We popped into Delifrance, a chain serving baguette sandwiches for a quick lunch. The soups and sandwiches were excellent and quick, exactly what we were looking for.
The cheese museum insisted that we stop into this particular cheese store near the main square. We were able to meet the owner who chatted with us as we tasted numerous types of cheese, including one he makes himself on his farm. We purchased quite a few wedges. His prices were so reasonable compared to other more “touristy” shops we’ve seen. He was so patient as little O squealed “cheese” at each and every cheese wheel in the store.
I read an article about the chocolatier, Puur in Gouda and a truffle they make with stilton blue. Puur was just around the corner, behind a small blue door that you would absolutely miss if you were not looking for it. They have the most delectable truffle assortments and the staff was welcoming. They offered the kids a chocolate sample while we browsed and purchased many of their truffles. I can highly recommend not only the stilton blue truffle but also the caramel truffle shaped like a dutch house.
With our bag full of cheese and chocolate we walked back to the car and headed out of town to a farm where we could see cheese and butter being produced. The drive to Kasboerdery Schep is lovely, down this one-lane road with “passing places” for oncoming traffic, which is frequent. The homes almost look as if they are built onto islands, with canals on both sides and farmland as far as you can see.
The farm has a little storefront where you can see into their cheesemaking room. When we arrived the young lady came from the back into the store to help us. She allowed us to sample cheeses before we purchased. We also bought butter made at the farm. The store also sells some goods from the other local farms, including ice cream. Had it not been cold and drizzly we probably would have purchased that as well.
They told us we were welcome to peek around at the cheese facilities and at the cows so we did!
The kids were quiet, bellies full of cheese samples on our short drive home. We had a full day but left many things undone in Gouda. Isn’t that always the case.
The big thing we missed was a visit to the Punselie Cookie Company. They have guided tours that include a film, but you need to make an advanced reservation. This is a must for our next visit. (I love that I can say that as we still have plenty of time to come back to places we love!)
If you’re planning a trip to Gouda without young children check out the Resistance Museum, which is also part of the museumkaart program. There are seasonal walking tours and although we have never been on one, we’ve never been disappointed by a city walking tour.
We had a very Gouda day and we hope you do too!
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