Hi, I’m kay. I’ll be your guide for today. Slightly different posting this time around! But you’ll live, right? It’s easier on the thighs anyway.
So here’s what I did; I took my camera with me on my last trip downtown and took some random shots of, well, stuff. Just in case you’re curious to see where I spend my days (and nights). This was basically a very, very small part of Gouda. In fact; it’s so small it qualifies more as a trip around the church than a dynamic tour past the historic buildings of Gouda, but quite beautiful nonetheless.
Come on, I’ll show you around my town. Gouda was granted its town privileges (also known as city rights), in 1272. I think Americans were still using smoke signals and speaking Sioux back then, right? *winks*
Photographic intense posting ahead! Be warned.
Lesson no. 1: Dutch people love their bikes. Some of them go to great lengths to express that slightly unhealthy love. Don’t come between the Dutch and their bikes. Really bad things happen then.
What a lot of people don’t know is that Gouda has a harbor called “The IJsselfront“. The harbor is basically our front-door. In 1225 a canal was linked to the Gouwe and its estuary was transformed into a harbor. It was considered a very important harbor back in the days. Skippers were obligated to sail their ships through Gouda’s harbor. Naturally, they had to pay toll for that. It brought the city great wealth. Nowadays the city is still wealthy; they’ve stopped milking skippers and are now aiming for their citizens through excessive city taxes and other theft expensive silliness. Pity us. Gouda life sure ain’t cheap.
On the way to the market you will pass by a few of our local cuisine stands. Well, local.. let’s see what we have here: there’s a Vietnamese egg roll stand (Loempia means egg roll). And a pizza stand. Oh, and let’s not forget the Turkish Döner Kebab stand! Hmmm, do we even have Dutch food here?
As soon as the sun peeks out from behind the clouds, you’ll see these cute little terraces pop up all over Gouda. Because the cafe/bars are thrown in with the normal houses, you get to sit there, drink your coffee or wine and listen in on marital arguments or people gossiping about co-workers. If you’re really lucky you get to see the freaky underwear some people dry outside on their balconies.
On Thursday and Saturday morning there’s a Farmers market downtown. Here’s one of our 10 billion cheese vendors.
Didn’t I tell you we had lots of old yet photogenic walls here with bikes parked up against it? I wasn’t lying. See!
When you walk down our main street, you’re bound to run into one of our ‘Draaiorgels‘. A draaiorgel is an old-fashioned mechanical music instrument. Hearing the cheerful music is pretty characteristic for shopping in Gouda.
When you’re working downtown and are literally forced to listen to it all day long, you’re no a happy camper. I can assure you that. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
On our way to the market we pass by a historical building named “De Waag’. Or weigh house, as you’d call it in English. Back in the middle ages the merchants were required to have their merchandise weighed as soon as it exceeded 10 pounds. This is where they weighed them. Doesn’t too look to shabby, does it? Nowadays it’s a museum that also houses a little souvenir shop.
When looking up (don’t bump into anything) you’ll see all the pretty roof tops. The buildings are generally divided in two parts: bottom half are stores, top half are populated houses. The houses are considered monuments and can not be altered in any way. Living there also requires quite some maintenance. It’s crazy expensive to actually rent a house here.
It’s always good fun to see our town hall through some floating lingerie and socks. Gives a different perspective on things, doesn’t it?
Or through tacky souvenir guirlandes. Such a shame.
All of a sudden you happen upon a really small and almost obscure looking alley. The kind of alley you don’t even want your dog to pee, much less walk around at night. With plenty more bikes of course. Always those darn bikes. When you look up you’ll see the church clock peeking out.
This dark and obscure alley is one of the entrances to our famous and beautiful St Jan’s church. Can you really blame them for not printing photos of the alley in the tourist flyers? I guess they pee against the wall there or something.
The church is known for its huge collection of 16th century stained glass windows. Very impressive, really. If you ever get the chance, make sure to take a peek. It’s well worth your time.
As we walk around the church we see one of our cafe/bars. Looks like they kinda dislike English speaking folks there! Just kidding. “Oh Die” doesn’t mean what you think it does. In Dutch it means “Oh, that one”. Only in Holland can bars and churches be located in the same street, seperated by a mere 12ft of paving-stones.
You’ll see high-tech laundry machines tossed out on the streets. Warned you things were slightly medieval around here. Remember the Sunday shopping ordinance? Yeah, just sayin’.
Just another street. No, that’s not fair; this street is what dreams are made of. I always expect to see a woman cross that little bridge wearing one of those medieval gowns. To hear the rustle of her skirts as she runs towards the horse drawn carriage waiting to take her to her betrothed. Sigh. I’ve always had a vivid imagination.
Anno 2009 it’s more likely going to be a Donna Karan suit and hummer waiting to take her to a rent-by-the-hour hotel with the guy she’s having an affair with at work. But anyway…
On the other side you see the “Lazaruspoort“, which dates back to 1609. Naturally the gate is named after Lazarus; patron of the poor and sick. The gate is the entrance to the old St. Maria convent, part of it was used for treating leprosy.
It really is a watery town, isn’t it? Imagine having had a few drinks too many while living there!
Still on our tour around the church! Did I mention the St Jan’s Church is also the longest church in the Netherlands? No? Well now you know! Because I’m still walking here so I can shoot these photos.
There’s a beautiful majestic tree planted in the middle of the Church garden. I always gasp when I see it. It’s beautiful all year ’round.
Then you stumble upon the old orphanage. It used to be the St. Margarethe convent until it was plundered and burned down in 1572. In 1599 it became an orphanage.
Big leap to 1973—the year I was born—when the orphanage became a library. I’ve spent quite a few hours picking out books, reading and studying here as a teenager. My school was only two blocks away. I guess I’ve been a bookworm all my life.
Would you be able to tell—by just looking at this photo—that you’re seeing one of my all-time favorite restaurants? I seriously doubt it. This is La Cubanita. A small, cosy and very informal Tapas restaurant where you’re allowed to write on the wall! Leave me a message if you ever happen to eat there, okay!
Now I’d be a terrible mommy if I’d go back home without at least one last yet very important stop. You can not visit Gouda without going to one of or Dutch stroopwafel stands. It’s ridiculous, you just don’t do that. Stroopwafels are our fabulous syrup waffles.
Yes, that’s a really big pot of luscious caramel she’s stirring.
And all was well in my little man’s world on that sunny Saturday morning in April.