For Friday evening we stayed at the lock and our idea was that we can move Suewna to Gouda centre in the morning. The morning approached and we planned the lockage when we noticed that the lock is in use on Sundays only in July and August. If we moved her to city centre like planned we would be stuck there until Monday. There was only half a kilometre from the lock to the town centre and thus Suwena was left alongside the Nieuwe Gouwe canal at the lock’s waiting pier.
The centre of Gouda was just so charming as we had expected for an old town to be. The market square is still the heart of the town and the market booths surround the town hall. On Saturday there was a market day and we joined the market feeling. The actual cheese market is arranged on Thursdays.
There is the oldest Gothic city hall of Holland in Gouda. Stadhuis was built in 1448. The beautiful wedding hall is still used for arranging wedding ceremonies. We went to test the wedding chairs. And well, they felt quite appropriate.
There is a weigh house (de Waag) opposite the historic town hall. It was built in 1668 – 1670. Traditionally at the cheese market there have been a heavy haggling between the buyers and the merchants. After the price was agreed by a handshake the cheese was transferred to the weigh house for weighting. The transferring of the goods were traditionally done by separate cheese carriers. For us the buying of cheese was much more easier. We bought several kinds of Gouda cheese directly from the cheese store. After tasting cheeses for a while and having recommendations from the sales lady she cut the cheese to our desired pieces and packed each of them into separate paper.
The Gouda cheese is by the way the oldest known cheese still made. The first records of its existence are from the year 1184. The Dutch cheese makers divide their cheeses into the six different categories.
- Jonge kaas (4 weeks)
- Jong belegen (8 – 10 weeks)
- Belegen (16 – 18 weeks)
- Extra belegen (7 – 8 month)
- Oude kaas (10 – 12 month)
- Overjarige kaas (18 months or older)
The Dutch have not without a reason earned the reputation of successful traders. It must have been a brilliant business idea. We thought that the more older and darker yellow the cheese is, it will just be moved to the next age category with a new price tag. But of course this is not the only culinary delicacy that gets better with the age. The year old Oude Kaas Gouda cheese was just so good.
We stayed in Gouda for a day longer than we originally planned. Suwena was all the time alongside the waiting pier of the lock. We were already thinking if somebody comes and drives us off the pier because it has not meant for a long time mooring. This is a good example about how flexible the Dutch are on interpreting the rules. In our Finland everything is always made by the book. It is nice to see that things can be done relaxed if there is no trouble to anybody. This relaxed attitude can be seen in many places. For example the boats paased half open bridge even if the lights were still red. Also in locks both the boats and the ships throttled forward as soon as there was any gap between the lock gates. They also kept their daylight marks at the bottom of the cockpit lockers when the engine was helping the sails. In Germany the police controlled strictly the cone usage but in Holland it seemed to be not so exact.
We also received guests from the eastern Holland when Koos and Ria arrived on a Saturday drive to meet us aboard Suwena. We spent a fun evening chatting about and the time passed quickly. We also had together a delicious dinner in a fish restaurant at the market square.
If you arrive by boat to Gouda its absolutely worthwhile to enter a city by boat. This charismatic town in South Holland is definitely worth a visit especially as it is just on the Staande Mast route.