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From Gouda

From 16th century Gouda cartoons to modern Zwolle stained glass superheroes

Today’s journey from 16th century Gouda cartoons to modern Zwolle stained glass superheroes starts in Leiden. For a team activity during the Leidens Ontzet I was looking for unique places and objects. Research brought me in the St John of Gouda. There was a huge stained glass window depicting the Relief of Leiden. Why it was there and not in Leiden I will tell you later. For now picture yourself in the St John and think of a comic book.

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August Events in the Netherlands

Summer in Holland is fantastic. Long, colourful days with nice temperatures and a good amount of sunshine ( most of the time at least).   Whether you like music, food or flowers, t here’s always something to do. Most of the time you can even combine all of your interests, passions and hobbies by going to one place or even one festival. In the post  Summer Festival Hopping you could already read about my favourite festivals in the province South Holland. Now, to make sure you won’t miss out on some typical Dutch activities during your Holland holiday I wanted to highlight some August events in the Netherlands that Verita’s Visit organises themed food & flowers.

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Team building event in Gouda area

The 7th of June was going to be the day.  The team building event in Gouda area. I was going to meet a group of 17 people from an international company at their office in Bodegraven for a bike- & boat tour with game elements. And then it started to rain. Windspeed 6. The long predicted storm happened on the day I was most looking forward to. Emma, who managed the event from client’s side, emailed me the day before and suggested to move  this team building event to the 20th of June. For this event we quickly made other arrangements.

Brewing a company outing

It was great to organise two team building events in Gouda area for the same international company. I was in close contact with Emma and kept communicating with the other organisations. The bike- and boat tour was a dream event and even when everything had to be changed lastminute for the event on the 7th my heart was beating faster.  I have so many ideas and at the moment I have the change to use my creativity and get a green light I just let myself go. Emma suggested a brewery tour for the 7th, which I had in mind as well. After that she thought a city walk through Gouda would be nice as the rain would clear in the late afternoon/ early evening. So, very lastminute I made the arrangements and they had a fun and informative company outing.

Video made by participant

Building a team in the Dutch Wetlands

Then the 20th of June came. Together with Lisette, the event planner and jack-of-all-trade at Watersnip, I had planned out the team building activity on the water. The 33 participants of the international company would be doing a rowing competition and if they had some sailing experience do some sailing game as well. The teams had all be given colourful shirts by my client and soon showed their practical, social and/ or leadership skills. As images speak a thousand words, here is a selection of the pictures I took of the team building event in Gouda area.

Dear participants, dear Lisette, Emma & Kellie, thank you all for this colourful day!

Long distance bike tour The Hague-Zwolle-Lunteren

Was this a Holland cycle holiday? A long distance bike tour? A cycling adventure? I’m not quite sure how to call my 6 day journey by bike from Rijswijk (The Hague) to Zwolle & Lunteren. It was a challenge, something I had wanted to do for a long time, but somehow didn’t dare. Would I be able to pull it off? Cycle 200 kilometre on my regular city bike all alone? What if something would happen enroute? I was clearly waiting for a sign. Thé sign.

Delftse Hout: this is where I learned how to cycle

 

The foreign Velo-citizens who inspired me

The sign came during Velocity, the conference on cycling, cycles, cyclists – where else?-. I met American, English, Belgian who covered amazing distances by bike with the Velocity conference in Nijmegen as final destination. They told me what they saw on their bike ride; the brass bands of the small town communities, the typical Dutch traditional festivals, the new cycle and pedestrian bridge in Utrecht. They were so relaxed, made a long distance cycle tour seem so easy.  All my ‘what ifs’ disappeared in thin air.

Long distance bike tour Netherlands

The week after, adrenaline ran through my veins. I wanted to make a long distance bike tour. At that very moment. If I would wait, I would postpone and everyone knows what happens if you postpone things. The weather was fantastic, for a full week. High temperatures, lots of sun. Quite exceptional for the Netherlands. Plus, I already had a destination: Zwolle. I had to be in the Hanseatic city on Friday for an inspiration day for event managers organised by Congresregio Zwolle. This was thé moment. The light for my longest cycle tour turned green!

Rottemeren, windmills of Zevenhuizen

 

The Dutch cycle adventure begins

The cycle route from Rijswijk to Gouda was familiar and a piece of cake. Or should I say: piece of cucumber, cherry tomatoes and loads of cherries? Let me explain. Around the Rottemeren, the lakes near Rotterdam, you’ll find greenhouses growing fruit & vegetables. Several greenhouses have placed vending machines in front of their doors. This way you can buy delicious cherries & strawberries and fresh cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes enroute for a great picnic.

Fruit/ Vegetable vending machine near Rottemeren Rotterdam

Wake me up for a local product

You can wake me up in the middle of the night for a visit to a miller, a farmer or a fruit/ vegetable grower. The very reason for making the detour via the Rottemeren was to visit the cherry grower Jomajole in Moerkapelle. Passing through the centre of this town I was happily surprised to find a Farmershop selling local cheese, juices, jams, fruit & vegetables. Of course they had cherries, but I already had my mind set on a visit to the cherry farm.

Jomajole is a big greenhouse. To be honest I was expecting a garden full of cherry trees, but once I entered the greenhouse I felt like I was in the garden of Eden. Besides different types of cherries, Jomajole also grows peaches, figs and other fruit. Just looking at all those different fruit trees made my mouth water. So I bought some 500 grams of cherries and had a little picnic.

 

The cycle route Moerkapelle – Gouda via Waddinxveen is a bit disappointing. I love cycling throught the Dutch countryside and enjoy the silence, but around Waddinxveen are just roads, traffic and lots of noise. Was quite happy to reach Gouda, sit down in a lovely park near the train station and have my favourite stroopwafels. – Sorry, ate them all before I even thought of taking a picture-.

Spoon bill & heron near Moerkapelle

 

At Gouda train station I parked my bike, hopped into a train back home and smiled. I was already looking forward to the next day.

Visit Gouda City of Cheese

They all come to Gouda, city of cheese. Cheese fans from all over the world look forward to the new season of the Gouda cheese market, which opens on Thursday 6 April 2017. Whether you like Old Amsterdammer, Beemster cheese or Edammer Cheese, Gouda is the place to taste the different types of delicious round gold. Gouda cheese market is only on Thursdays though. So, what kind of cheese related things can you do when you visit Gouda on another day? And, is there anything else worth seeing & tasting? Let’s find out.

Gouda Countryside

It’s Saturday. In a Gouda cheese farm, a 5 km bike ride from Gouda, city of cheese, the women are making cheese. We arrive to early, the cheese is still curd and spinning in a big tub. So, I suggest to hit the road and visit the cheese warehouse first. Enroute we are thrilled with the sight of the typical Dutch landscape, we are amazed by the flat organised structure of the polders. Seeing the first windmill makes us clap our hands in excitement. It can only get better. And it does. When we reach the cheese warehouse, our jaws drop.

 

Gouda Cheese Museum & Cheese Shop

We do visit the Gouda cheese farm again, see the cheese go in the presses.  Then we head back to Gouda city of cheese, because we have a full program. The Gouda cheese museum is first on our list. A volunteer of the museum guides us through the history of cheese and other dairy products. We are almost done with the cheese part of our visit to Gouda. We have tasted quite some Gouda farmer cheeses at the Gouda cheese warehouse and the cheese farm, but at ‘t Kaaswinkeltje we not only see the golden version, but also many other colours. One last time we taste different types of cheese, one last time we buy another Gouda cheese, this time a cheese with cumin.

Gouda city of cheese soup & syrup waffle dessert

After a lunch of Gouda cheese soup on the terrace of Belvedère, with view on the very attractive Saturday market, we pass by a couple of the stroopwafel shops to taste and buy the different syrup waffles – and yes, there is also great difference in the syrup waffles you get in Gouda-.

 

Gouda stained glasses & pollard willows

We’ve kept the best for last. On our way to the Gouda cheese farm & warehouse, we saw these special type of pruned trees along the canals. Apparently you don’t see them ( that much) in America. In the Netherlands we are used to them and they are centuries old. In the St John church of Gouda, famous of the large stained glasses, there is a pane that also depicts these pollard willows.  The upper part of this stained glass depicts a scene in the life of John the Baptist. Although it doesn’t take place in the Netherlands, these pollard willows at the riverside give a Dutch touch to this Middle Eastern scene.

To be able to point the others to this specific stained glass in the St John church ánd to be able to show them Gouda city of cheese and so much more, made me immensely happy. And, not just me…