Posted in Travel

A slice of Dutch: part 1, Alkmaar cheese market

If you kindly allow, I’ll begin my photo stream from Amsterdam Sloterdijk station at 6 o’clock in the morning, when my night bus just arrived from Paris. The day hadn’t started yet, but the spring allure already lurked there.

DSC_0223_smallDSC_0228_small

Croissant and coffee is never better than at a station in a cold morn, after a long night on the road. I then took a train to Alkmaar. There was some accidents on the rail, so I had to go to Hoorn first, then from Hoorn to Alkmaar. The sun was rising over shimmering canals and ponds. Old and modern windmills lay in the distance. The closer I approached Alkmaar, the more cattle and birds I saw on the meadow. Right, I was in the land of milk and cheese.

DSC_0241_smallDSC_0250_smallDSC_0264_smallDSC_0271_smallDSC_0286_smallDSC_0288_small

DSC_0636_small

DSC_0272_small

DSC_0277_small

DSC_0290_small

In Alkmaar, it’s the opening day of their “traditional” summer cheese market. Direction guide to the market, in the form of a cheese cube, was posted everywhere. The path from the station to the city center is a pleasant walk with many pretty houses and peaceful alleys.

DSC_0295_smallDSC_0296_smallDSC_0298_small

DSC_0300_smallDSC_0306_smallDSC_0309_smallDSC_0310_smallDSC_0313_small

DSC_0330_small

Street vendors had already installed along the path, selling typical Dutch souvenirs: flower bulbs, wooden shoes, blue ceramics,… I hope at least they are not made in China.

DSC_0314_smallDSC_0318_small

DSC_0316_small

DSC_0338_smallDSC_0320_smallDSC_0322_smallDSC_0336_smallDSC_0337_small

DSC_0344_small

DSC_0579_small

The cheese weighing rights and weighing scale which were granted to Alkmaar in 1365:

DSC_0339_small

You can see bikes in all of my photos in Holland. Cliché, but they were indeed everywhere I pointed camera to. Beautiful orange cheese wheels lined up the square in front of the weighing house (which looks as imposing and sacred as a town hall). I don’t know why, the sight of food stacks always cheers me up. Perhaps because my country had been rather poor during my childhood and food have become precious to me.

DSC_0341_smallDSC_0351_smallDSC_0354_small

Boats carrying cheese on the canal:

DSC_0359_smallDSC_0365_smallDSC_0371_small

At 10am, the market opened. There was a small parade: the guy at the head of the parade, dressing in black, was introduced to be the author of the music he was singing (that piece of music was quite melody-less, but that’s part of the fun).

DSC_0380_smallDSC_0383_smallDSC_0389_small

Those Dutch ladies in costume could certainly pose, and they look like a joyful painting: red skirt, blue apron, blond hair and rosy cheeks.

DSC_0394_smallDSC_0396_small

DSC_0456__smallDSC_0485_small

They invited us to taste and buy the cheese. The price was quite reasonable: 10 E for a nice bag of 4 cheeses and a souvenir. The cheese was good too. In the end I think I bought like 10 kg of cheese and I just dragged the bag along.

DSC_0401_small

The cheese porters arrived with their colorful straw hat. They carried the cheese to the weighing house, measured its weight and value, then carried it back to “buyers”.

DSC_0410_smallDSC_0412_smallDSC_0417_small

DSC_0533_small

DSC_0451_smallDSC_0430_smallDSC_0438_small

If they ran and waved their hand in sync, it’s not really for the show: the cheese cart is really heavy and the two men can’t have carried it if they hadn’t been in sync. It looks easier said than done. The town mayor stood forth for the task (the gentlemen in suit), but once the cheese cart was strapped to his shoulder and back, he could only move slowly. The carrier behind him tried to accommodate, but he surely thought it wouldn’t work.

DSC_0489_smallDSC_0491_smallDSC_0492_smallDSC_0493_smallDSC_0494_small

After a while, he fell flat on four and quit. Poor guy, I hope his back was undamaged. Children sprawled on the cheese wheels to play, and the cheese porters picked up some small children to carry around on their cart.

DSC_0498_small

DSC_0510_smallDSC_0511_small

Even the gulls were interested:

DSC_0521_small

DSC_0517_small

With 1 E you can weight yourself on that ancient scale. Children adored it.

DSC_0546_small

The flea market around was on full swring. Herring for only 2 E, some shoes master demonstrating his skills on set. The ceramic did look tempting, but I didn’t buy it, because I was going to Delft afterward.

DSC_0542_smallDSC_0543_small

DSC_0565_smallDSC_0551_smallDSC_0556_small

DSC_0554_small

DSC_0590_smallDSC_0562_smallDSC_0563_small

Roaming around the town:

DSC_0548_smallDSC_0582_smallDSC_0585_smallDSC_0596_small

DSC_0599_small

I saw a long queuing line outside of this ice cream shop, so I tried it. The ice cream was tasty, with only 1.2 E/cup! I thought that price didn’t exist anymore.

DSC_0593_small

The Dutch lion looks rather cute than majectic here:

DSC_0598_small

DSC_0332_small

The cheese museum, I didn’t go in:

DSC_0571_small

Alkmaar’s history in the cheese museum (I’m so glad Alkmaar won the Eredivisie in 1981 and 2009, though normally I’m an Ajax fan).

DSC_0578_small

St. Laurenskerk, I love its medieval look, its interior was not heavily decorated, but paintings and motifs popped up where you didn’t expect:

DSC_0602_smallDSC_0607_smallDSC_0609_smallDSC_0612_smallDSC_0614_smallDSC_0615_smallDSC_0616_smalDSC_0617_smallDSC_0618_small

The plaques on the long walking path all had different motifs on them, nothing too sophisticated but still a hidden treat:

DSC_0621_small

DSC_0301_smallDSC_0302_smallDSC_0303_small

DSC_0570_small

DSC_0583_small

Now I look back at this fountain, I realise that it was shaped in cheese wheel form:

DSC_0626_small

Every corner is photogenic, but I had something to do in Amsterdam so I must leave.

DSC_0624_smallDSC_0627_small

Advertisements

Author:

My stock websites for photos: https://www.picfair.com/eressea

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s