Start at the Gouda cheese market and go in any direction for about 25 km (15 miles). This is the region where the Gouda cheese is produced. Today we’re cycling to a Gouda cheese farm in the village of Bodegraven for a proper tour. We begin at the cheese market of another Rhine village.
The less touristy Holland cheese market
It’s one of my favourite places in the Utrecht / Gouda region. Easy to explore on foot, nice to start or end a bike ride. There are direct trains from Amsterdam, Gouda & Utrecht. Woerden is cosy, people are friendly, there quite some good sights and best of all: there is a Saturday cheese market!
Since 1885 traders & cheese farmers come here to sell & buy cheese. Similar to the Gouda cheese market they still show how the Gouda cheese trade is done. I enjoy the Woerden cheese market, because there are less tourists and it’s more accesible. You can ask cheese traders & farmers questions.
Picnic items at local market
Today’s participants, two American expats and their friends who are visiting, love the local products they selll on the market and after they ask me if there’s time for a picnic enroute they buy some fruit, smoked eel and drinks. “Only the bread is missing”, one of them says.
Transport of Gouda cheese
We get on our bike and go in direction of the Rhine. In the old days the transportation of cheese was mainly done by water. If you take a closer look at the location of the cheese warehouses in Woerden, you’ll see that many are near or at the river. The two-storey cheese warehouses have huge windows. The windows are actually doors, which were opened to easily transport the cheese from the warehouse onto the boats or wagons.
Cycling to a Gouda cheese farm
Now, cycling to a Gouda cheese farm is fairly easy as for this bike ride we just follow the river Rhine. Enroute we stop for an excellent cup of coffee & cakes in a café that’s hidden from sight. – Not going to name the place, but I’m happy to show you one day 😉 – . We pass the fort, a reminder of the Hollandic Water Line, a 135 km barrier around Amsterdam and Utrecht region. It was constructed in the 18th century and held off the French army & later the Spanish army.
As we enter Bodegraven we immediately see the village’s cheese history. The buildings that were once cheese warehouses are transformed into appartements or stores. There’s one authentic cheese warehouse left, but unfortunately we can’t visit it today as we have a date with the cheese farmer.
We cycle past the market square where the cheese market was held. Did you know that Bodegraven had a cheese market from 1882 till 1925? And it weren’t just the Gouda cheese that were traded there. Bodegraven is close to Leiden as well and in Leiden region they also make cheese. So Leiden as well as Gouda cheese were traded on this market.
There is a local market in Bodegraven as well and we see a stand with delicious breads. We taste, we chat and I feel we have to make a move: the cheese farmer is waiting.
Gouda cheese farm tour
She’s in the farm’s cosy Gouda cheese shop. The cheese farmer serves some coffee & tea and tells about the farm, the area, the cows. We do our best to translate the video which shows how the cheese, butter milk and butter are made. Best to just show the workshop where the cheese is made. The farmer takes us through the barn to the other side and this is what we see….
Tasting Gouda cheese creates an appetite
Back in the cheese shop the cheese farmer explains the different types of Gouda cheese and let’s us taste all of them. Of course, we buy some cheese to take home.
Hungry after the visit we bike to a restaurant near the water and talk about cheese, food in general, Dutch culture and world politics. While we dig into a nice lunch, I’m truly enjoying the smiles and happiness. The weather is lovely, the cheese farm guided tour was amazing and now we’re here with a beautiful view on the draw bridge and a nice cycle route back to Woerden to look forward to. Cycling to a Gouda cheese farm, it is quite an enjoyable experience!