A March 2005 trip
to Gouda by shaunandtrish
Quote: Gouda is pronounced "howda". Gouda y'do - "howda y'do". Please yourself. Problem with working is that you don't get to see that much of the places you go, but this is a summary of what I did see.
Everyone (nearly) speaks very good English and will generally have time for you. Dutch people are nice.
The locals favour the cycling option.
Alphen aan den Rijn is a small laid-back town in between Amsterdam and Gouda, so I suppose this hotel gets most used by business types. Rooms are comfy, clean, and quiet considering their proximity to the railway line, and the English-speaking staff is always friendly. TV channels include a couple of English, German, and French options, but, unusually, there are no tea/coffee making facilities inside. There's no trouser press either. For breakfast details, see the dining entry in this journal.
Downstairs is an open-plan lobby/bar/restaurant area with information on surrounding attractions and a bowl of free apples. The photos will give you a fair picture of what its all about, but its clearly a business-orientated stopover, so don't expect too much.
Here's the website.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 13, 2005
Golden Tulip, Alphen aan den Rijn
(31 172) 490100
My meal consisted of a bowl of soup of the day (carrot and coriander) and pork loin in a black-pepper sauce. The main course came with potato balls and some cauliflower. In total, the cost was about 24€, which was a bit pricey considering that the meal was palatable rather than memorable. The menu is not too varied either - maybe eight choices for your main course, all a bit on the dear side for what you get. The decor was nice enough, the service was friendly but slow, and the draught Heineken was... welcome.
All in all, I could not really recommend the restaurant as an eating place of choice, but for the tired-and-can't-be-bothered, it’s okay.
Breakfast, on the other hand, is better. You get a good choice of breads, pastries, cold meats, cheeses, jams, cold boiled eggs, fruit, hot drinks, and juices. There's also a limited amount of hot choices consisting of toast, scrambled eggs, and bacon. It’s a help-yourself/eat-as-much-as-you-like set-up starting at 7am. Just the thing to start the day, actually.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on March 13, 2005
Golden Tulip, Alphen aan den Rijn
See accomodation entry
Schiphol Airport is fairly pleasant for a big airport, feeling less grubby than most. It’s like a big spider, with the central hub in the middle and all its terminals sprouting off in all directions. This means that you don't have to get horrible little shuttles between terminals, but there is a bit of walking to do, made a bit easier by the customary moving pavements. It’s KLM's main hub, so it’s a cosmopolitan place, with people connecting here to all parts of the globe. Eating and shopping are quite good considering it’s a big airport.
If Amsterdam is your final destination, then you are likely to leave the airport terminal by train. Their departure platforms are underneath the airport itself, so connecting is quite easy. Tickets are a good value, too, with 5€ getting you a ticket virtually anywhere within a 40-mile radius. One word of warning, however, for those people who are tempted to take a chance and dodge a fare - the conductors do come round regularly. Trains are regular up until 10pm or so, and many are double-decker affairs, so your chances of getting a seat will always be good from Schiplhol at least.
Getting off the train, especially if your journey ends at a smaller town like Gouda, you'll see that it’s no myth that everyone in Holland cycles everywhere. There will be literally hundreds of bikes chained up outside the station. The bikes incidentally do not tend to come in all shapes and sizes, with flashy/sporty/funky efforts quite scarce. Most seem to be of the functional "sit-up-and-beg" variety. So don't be surprised to see a 17-year-old tearaway riding a very similar model to his mum.
At the time I took my photos, I reckoned I could find out what they were from looking on the web when I got home - wrong!!! There's actually not that much in the way of tourist information on Gouda, in English anyway. This website is one of the better ones I found. It’s clearly some local person's homemade effort, but with good humour inside. Maybe the general lack of good info means it may be a bit of an undiscovered gem? Who knows. There's a city guide type website here, but I couldn't open the photo gallery. Alas, it was my last hope of finding out what my photos were of,
Anyway, Gouda is a small town. It’s medieval in origin, so many of its streets are narrow, pedestrianised, and quaint. A highlight is the nice old Church of Saint John the Baptist. Re Carroll's journal describes the historical background to the church better than I could, so you may as well check the historical details in her journal.
Not surprisingly, cheese shops abound in the centre of town, as do all manner of café/bar restaurants. It’s clearly a nice stopover for tourists, but the locals did warn me that petty car crime here is a huge problem, so the usual precautions must be taken. Streets are safe enough, however. At its centre is a lovely old market square with its Stadhuis in the middle - over to Re Carroll again for the history of it. It’s lined with some nice shops, bars, and restaurants and looks a great place to watch the world go by.
Another thing I liked (see my photos) was a sort of canal boat, museum-type area. I can't for the life of me find out what it’s called, but the pictures were nice. It was just next to the facility where I was working, and one of their employees actually lived on one of the boats. No excuses for lateness then.
I'd recommend this place for a visit if you're in the area. It has a nice atmosphere to it and life feels as though it has just the right amount of pace to it. From what I saw as I bustled through it anyway... Work, who needs it? Oh, me actually. One day...
Durham, United Kingdom