Friday, June 15, 2007

visitors! (gouda)

Amber and Camille wrapped up her stay with a festive three day romp in Amsterdam, city of carnal knowledge. On their way to Amsterdam, however, they were going to spend an afternoon in Gouda, which I have always wanted to see, so I decided to join them.

The city takes its name from the van der Goude family who built a castle along the Gouwe river. It is famous for pipes, this fifteenth century townhall in the middle of the main square, and of course for Gouda cheese. Amber had just recently purchased some of those obnoxious J-lo, hollywierd, megalo-insect sunglasses, so I thought it would be neat to get a picture of the townhall (and myself) in their reflection.

When we arrived at the trainstation, we learned that all the lockers were full and so we had no place to store Camille's luggage (which we had with us because she was going to be flying home from Amsterdam). This upset Amber, but I bought her a fanta, which seemed to calm her down. So, knowing that Gouda is quite small, we decided just to bring the bags with us. This slowed us down a bit. But I think that we saw all the main sights anyway.

We first had a cool drink at one of the cafes on the main square, where they had the market set up. Camille actually bought some cheese at the Gouda market, which I think eventually put her bags over the weight limit, but I am sure it was worth it. One memorable note is that a waitress came around with a tray of free chicken wings while Camille and Amber were in the bathroom. I took one and must say it was lekker. We also ordered a couple of tostis, which reminds me that a few days earlier we had ordered a tosti in Deventer but they were not the right kind. Here, fortunately, they were right...and unusually large for Dutch tosti standards.

We then lugged our bags over to the Grote Kerk, which is a sprawling church just off of the main square. There was a wedding in progress (or so it seemed to us) and we were not dressed very well, so we did not go inside. We did, however, have a lovely little break in a shady little park just behind the church.

After this, we walked a bit outside of the main square area to get a taste of the town. One street had cheese wheels strung across the buildings, which I thought was a little tacky but the girls seemd to like it so I took their picture.

We also got a picture of the famous waag or weighing house, which has engravings of people weighing cheese. Cheese and trade are two of the essentials of Dutch history and culture, so it was cool to see that symbolized in one place.

We then sat down at a restaurant on the other side of the main market square to eat dinner. But we decided not to eat there and instead go into Amsterdam together and catch dinner there. That way, I could help them get their bags to their hotel- which turned out to be a great little place just off of the Leidseplein. We met up with Valerie, a friend from Amber's church who lives in Amsterdam, and ate at a Wagamama, which is a trendy Japanese noodle restaurant where you can get a giant wooden spoon with your dish if you order the right thing. I was hoping to catch a red light district tour with Valerie, but time was running out for the last train home to Hengelo. So, I left them to their own devices and caught a tram back to the station. While waiting, I heard an American couple talking to each other about the Spui, which is a location in Amsterdam with its own tram stop. They were pronouncing it, as I did at first, "spoo-eee," which is way off...but what the heck, this language is tough. I got myself the usual little something from the bakery and a fruit juice at the Albert Heijn in the train station and was home by around 1:30.


Elizabeth said...

Three things:

1) Flying cheese wheels! Excellent! I totally understand why Camille and Amber wanted their picture taken there. Who wouldn't?

2) In the sculpture of the cheese weighers (which is totally cool, BTW): one dude is totally nekkid except for a properly situated drape, and he's sitting on a stack of cheese wheels or something. That's funny. I wonder why they carved him naked--there must have been some symbolic reason. Did you all notice and comment at snarky length on this??

3) How do you say "Spui"?

chris.bellekom said...

I love it when other people write about visiting my town. Makes me appreciate it even more :-)