Hi all! I realize I am quite behind on my blog posts, and my excuse is that I have been too busy having adventures and discovering the world and haven’t had the time (or consistent wifi access) to keep you updated. Please forgive me! I am currently preparing to fly to Spain, but first I will tell you abut the rest of my time in the Netherlands, September 12-18.
In the last post I wrote about Amsterdam. We were there for 2 days and I really enjoyed it. Before leaving the Netherlands we also saw the towns of Gouda (pronounced HOW-da) and Maastricht, and that is what I will show you today.
Gouda is a really cute town, known for its cheese (go figure) and the magnificent stained glass in the church of St. John. The windows depict both Biblical scenes and scenes from the history of the Netherlands. Also it is the longest church (123 meters) in the Netherlands.
Cheese is everywhere in Gouda (see the canal above). It’s really a way of life in this town.
We also went to the cheese museum, above the tourist office, and learned about the history of cheese-making from an enthusiastic guide and a short video. Here you see the front of the museum, a diagram of a cow explaining how they digest their food and produce milk, and an example of some cheese ready for market. (It’s not actual cheese, but we did get more free samples at the museum!)
There is a lot to see in this town, and we would both go back if we get the chance. We had lunch at a café which houses a flour mill built in the 1400s (and still operating!). The mill produces flour for the bread and other baked goods at the café. Here we are in front of the wheel that turns the mill:
On our second day in Maastricht, we went to see Fort St Pieter at the south edge of town. It was built as a supplement to the city wall to head off attacks from Belgium, which is only a hop-skip-and-jump away from Maastricht.
After checking out the fort, we took a guided tour of the Maastricht underground caves. The network of tunnels and rooms underneath the city has existed since the 1100s when people started digging them. They’ve been used as shelter for peasants during war, as hideouts and hangouts for locals, and as artistic outlets. There are coal drawings all over the tunnels, dating from the last few decades all the way back to the last century. Here’s one of my favorites:
One more tidbit from Maastricht: we found a local bookstore in a building that used to be a cathedral. Talk about reduce, reuse, recycle! It retains much of its cathedral splendor and even has a cross-shaped table for the small café at the back, but now the main focus is on the three levels of bookshelves running along the center of the sanctuary.
That’s all from the Netherlands! Thanks for reading, and tune in next time to hear about the south of France.