Gouda team event Dutch culture & diversity

There’s more to Gouda than cheese and stroopwafels. For the Gouda team event I’m looking for a workshop or activity to include the three other typical Dutch products of this city. And that’s where I’m stuck.

Dutch crafts of lost times

My footsteps echo in the cobblestone alley between the 16th century St John church and the tilted medieval houses. This transports you to lost times. Lost times it is. Door closed, shutters down. The shop with the large sign saying ‘Gouda kaarsen’ now primarily sells antics. The last clay pipe maker retired. He shows the old Dutch craft once in a while in a former ceramics factory just outside the city. Gouda ceramics….yes, there is one workshop you can still visit. It’s not in the city centre though.


Start of Gouda diversity team event at train station

Gouda team event on Dutch culture

My search for typical Gouda ánd typical Dutch elements in the St John resulted in some great ideas for the customised group outing. Now I'm out in the streets looking for the three other typical Dutch products of Gouda: ceramics, candles and clay pipes.

It all started with the request for a Gouda team event on Dutch culture.  This corporate event is all about having fun and doing activities, instead of just a (self) guided city walk. And, it's a group activity for half a day, three hours more or less. Which, for my ideas, is extremely short. To add the very popular typical Dutch stroopwafels and original Gouda cheese there's going to be a stroopwafel baking session and a cheese tasting.  I'm especially looking forward to the tasting as this is not your mainstream cheese experience. Really curious what the participants think of it!

Artisanal workshops in the heart of Holland

It’s hard to picture Golden Age Gouda being full of workshops. Every second shop had some connection with Dutch crafts. Large factories outside of the city brought the production of Gouda ceramics and candles to another level. The small artisanal shops in Gouda’s historical centre went broke. The clay pipe industry simply went up in smoke with the invention of the cigar and later the cigarette. As the last craftsmen turn grey and there are no successors, the old Dutch crafts simply vanish.

Local Gouda festivals celebrating Dutch heritage

Or, is there still a spark of life? Gouda is proud of its candles, ceramics and clay pipes. On Ascension day a large ceramics festival is held on the market square. It’s not just Gouda craftsmen and -women who show ceramics is still alive and kicking, people from all around the world come show their pottery.

In December Gouda lights it candles in the Gouda by Candlelight event. The city hall lights up real Gouda candles and locals living on the market put their best candles on the windowseal.

And the clay pipes? There is a great Erasmus festival on his birthday in October. It’s a jolly and folly Saturday with all locals proudly showing the Dutch heritage. All Gouda products are put into the spotlight.

arts & crafts tour Gouda ambachten groep Verita's Visit events uitjes

Apart from the cheese and stroopwafels, clay pipes are the only elements of Dutch culture I will work with in the personalised Gouda team event in June. The Thursday market has a stall with ceramics and clay pipes. It looks o so fragile though, so I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to add an activity here. Maybe at the oldest tobacco shop in Gouda, which still has a great display of clay ánd wooden pipes...


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Typical Gouda in stained glass windows

There’s a lady with a white bun. Find her. She knows everything about the Gouda windows. I enter the St John church in search of typical Gouda in stained glass windows.

make your own Gouda church  Verita's Visit workshop kerk bouwenGroup activity in the longest church of Netherlands

It’s Wednesday morning. A few rays of sunlight found their way through the clouds and now shine on the red-white shutters of the Gouda city hall. While I spot a LEGO version of the church, a woman with white trousers and red jacket swirls her small group of tourists through the alley. I follow them to their, no, our destination.  As the group swarms into the St John, I stop at the counter.

Teambuilding typical Gouda in the stained glass windows

I make myself tall as the longest windows in the church (20m)  and say: “I’m organising a team building event on Dutch culture ánd diversity and want to include the stained-glass stories of the St John church. Can you tell me what the most typical Gouda in the stained glass windows is?”

Erasmus in Gouda

“How Gouda is presented, you mean”, the man behind the desk replies, while you see how he’s trying to formulate the perfect answer. The man clearly likes to think along: “John the baptist is the patron saint of the city Gouda. All through the city you see the colors red and white. Red for his suffering and white for purity. You can find the city’s coat of arms – red and white- in several of the Gouda windows. The glasses in the choir tell the story of John the Baptist’s life.”

 

The man puts his thumb and indicative finger on his chin and thinks out loud, nodding towards the most modern glass. “Of course this stained glass window is quite abstract, but it is representing the beliefs of Erasmus. The humanist was born in Gouda, his father was a priest in this church. If you really want to know what is typical Gouda in the Gouda glasses, look for the lady with the white bun. She’s a guide and can tell you all you want to know about the windows.

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Leidens Ontzet - Relief of Leiden depicted in stained glass Gouda church

Gouda Glasses and Leiden team event

Every time I visit the St John, I run to one stained-glass window. That has to do with my passion for the Leidens Ontzet and the team event on Dutch culture I once organised in the city of Leiden.  The creation of this customised teambuilding activity has priority now. I enter the church and I immediately see ms Kraal, the lady with the white bun. She’s passionately explaining the story of one of the Gouda windows to a couple of visitors. The scene is so intimate I fear to intrude and break the serene atmosphere. My excitement to find the answer to my quest is far bigger though and in a stutter I begin my question:

“The man behind the counter told me you know everything about these stained glasses. What is typical Gouda in the stained glass windows?”

The Night Watch of the St John church

Ms Kraal looks over her glasses at me. “There nothing typical Gouda in the stained glass windows”, she replies. “But,” as she goes on after seeing my disappointment. “Many of the Gouda glasses have a connection with the biblical humanism, the teaching  of Erasmus. And Erasmus was an important figure for Gouda and for the Netherlands.” For her, window 15 is the Night watch of the St John church. She places her hand on an imaginary hand: “John the Baptist doesn’t baptise Jesus in the traditional way…”

 Verita's Visit Gouda Erasmus cultuur groepsuitje lokaal group tour event culture

I try to listen to her, but find myself to eager to run to the stained glass window and see for myself. I say my thankyous and goodbyes and Ms Kraal gives me one more tip: window 7. This is not your ordinary presentation of the Last Supper. This is a real conversation. The focus is not on the dinner or the characters, but on the lively interaction between the characters. Ow, I’m excited to see for myself!

Humanism in thought bubbles & speech balloons

While the orgue plays a tune I recognise, but can not put a name on, I sit in front of window 15. 10 minutes, half an hour. I listen to the audioguide and see what Ms Kraal explained. John the Baptist doesn’t look at Jesus and baptises him. He looks up and listens to God. His words come down in a ray of light that runs down to the holy ghost. It’s the dove that represents him.

Gouda group activity uitje vrienden familie bedrijf  Verita's Visit

I’ve fallen in love with window 16 before as that does have a typical Dutch  element: the landscape. The brothers Crabeth, who made this glass and 14 & 15 which together form a tryptich, used the countryside around Gouda for the landscape. Now that I see the full story of these 3 glasses, I know I have found the answer to my quest. I’ve found typical Gouda in the stained glass windows ánd typical Dutch elements. Now I only need to think of a creative assignment to include this in the team building event on Dutch culture and diversity....


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Windmill tour Keukenhof area

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Windmill tour Keukenhof area spring fall summer molen rondleiding Bollenstreek teambuilding Verita's VisitA new miller for Holland heritage

A new face. Robert stands tall next to the even taller windmill. The passionate Jan, who still lives in this amazing Dutch icon, steps out of his house. He'll give us the windmill tour Keukenhof area while Robert, the new miller, shows us how to handle the sails, the blades and the wheels of this historical monument.

Dutch icon in polder landscape

This windmill is beautifully located. On top of a dike, it looks out on the canal on one side. On the other the polders - the green meadows which lay much lower than the canal. In between the polders are ditches. This mill is called a polder drainage windmill. An enormous screw under the house pumps the water of the ditches in the canal. The obvious question: does Jan not hear the mechanism when it's operating?

Jan's answer: "You get used to it. The windmill's monotonous sound is actually quite calming"

Windmill flower region molen bezoek teambuilding Verita's Visit

Windmill tour Keukenhof area

The Golden Age comes to life when you see the blades of this 17th century typical Dutch icon turning. It's quite close by  the worldfamous tulip garden and participants often request a windmill tour Keukenhof area when they book the tulip field bike tour.

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It is also possible to organise a visit by bike or boat to this windmill in fall or winter. Or add it to the Holland beach and summer flower bike tour.

 


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Meet Vermeer in Holland - From virtual museum to real life

Meeting Vermeer in Holland. It's the end of your travel through time and space. 15 december is the death anniversary of the Delft painter. On 3 December 2018 a special museum opened its doors. It shows all 37 works of the Golden Age painter. This is where you start your journey.Read more


Impression of Delft Vermeer Challenge

The bullet holes in the wall were not the reason why I visited the Museum Prinsenhof last July. In my heart, I keep a special place for Delft, the city where I was born. One of my wishes was to create a challenge, a treasure hunt in Delft. But, Delft has no festival based on a historical event or full of traditions. What could I do? Then came the request.

Rowena had organised a group bike tour through the Delft nature with Verita’s Visit and enjoyed herself. After that she approached me and asked if I could create a city challenge in Delft. I was thrilled with the request. My dream of creating a treasure hunt in Delft came true.

At the end it wasn’t difficult to come up with a theme. The exact location of the masterpiece The little street by Delft painter Johannes Vermeer had just been discovered and Museum Prinsenhof  Delft had managed to borrow the painting from the Rijksmuseum. From 25 March until 17 July 2016 Prinsenhof dedicated a full exhibition on this painting of Vermeer and its location in Delft. The news spread like wildfire and local businesses, churches and other museums joined in by offering special Vermeer products and deals. Delft was under the spell of Vermeer.

City game Vermeer Delft painting science. Photo by: Barbara van Gelder
Assignment: become a Vermeer character. Photo by: Barbara van Gelder

I had always wanted to work with Barbara van Gelder, owner of the studio Something Extra. In her studio you can become Vermeer or one of his characters. Dressed in 17th century costumes and some nice accessories added to the scene she will immortalize you in a portrait. Barbara has many ideas and is always enthusiastic. When I told her about the Delft Vermeer Challenge, she immediately came up with questions and assignments.

In the last weekend of the exhibition the participants of the challenge gathered at a special place  where they were served a cup of tea ( in Delftware cups). Rowena whispered in my ear: “Are we getting our portrait made here?”.  I smiled and said : “Who knows..”

In the Delft Vermeer Challenge the teams followed a route past different locations important to Vermeer. Through questions and creative assignments they could find out about his life, his family, the technique he used. One of my favourite assignments was in the Vlamingstraat, the location of The Little Street.  This is where Vermeer’s aunt lived. She sold intestines. The assignment was to make a video while tasting this 17th century delicacy. The looks on the faces of the participants! It was fantastic….I don’t know if they ever found out that what they ate was kokosbrood  a typical Dutch spread made out of cocos. Well, in Verita’s Visit’s tours and events things never are what they look like ;)

The Delft Vermeer Challenge finished at a special place where, how could it be otherwise, the assignment was to become a Vermeer character, pick the right costume and get your portrait taken. Love to show you this unique place in Delft!


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