Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Cheese Town: Alkmaar

Alkmaar is the cheese town of the Netherlands where the famous kaasmarkt [cheese market] is held every Friday mornings, 10AM to 12Noon, from the 1st half of May until the 1st half of September, every year.

The kaasdragers [cheese carriers] in action by the Waagplein town square in Alkmaar. Those cheese rounds can be used as weapons, they are heavy!

The cheese carriers carry not just the cheese but the kids too!

The cheese market is an Alkmaar tradition since 1593 and is the prime tourist attraction of the city. About 100,000 tourists every year come to witness the cheese trading show in the Waagplein square.

So last Friday, my last day of vacation freedom, I went - even though the weather was having a strike. It didn’t cooperate with my little travel plan. It was raining the whole day. In fact the rain never stopped... until today, lol!

Autumn came too early.

The cheese museum called Waaggebouw [Weigh house]; an old Dutch woman dressed in a traditional dress selling the small versions of the yellow cheeses; and more cheeses, loved the spiced one in the middle.

There was really nothing interesting worth applauding that happened in Alkmaar, except during the cheese exposition in the square.

I had to squeeze myself into the throngs of crowds and the sea of umbrellas towards the forefront where the iron railings were standing as security borders. I just need to get a closer angle of the cheese carriers and their wheel-sized yellow roll of cheese. That’s all I want, a souvenir foto of this celebrated Dutch tradition, when all of a sudden all sorts of smell enveloped me --- pungent mind blowing body odors, overpowering *hatching* armpits and acerbic bad breaths. They all smelled like decaying meat. Eww, I almost stopped breathing, HELP!!!

*grimaces* really yuk!
I felt dizzy there for several seconds.

After I snatched a few fotos, I quickly tore myself away, away from the stinky crowd. I desperately want to breathe again. There was one lady though who smelled nice, so I stuck my nose near her hair, ha-ha.

Can you say the pictures of the cheese carriers above were worth the hassle?

A charming section of the town center... some terraces (soon they are to be filled when the sun shines), a canal and of course, a canal bridge, and the medieval Dutch houses completing the whole backdrop (and a bike peek too on the lower left side of the foto).

This is the langestraat I think, the main street filled with many shops and where the stadhuis [city hall] is also located. The second foto is the pretty stairs to the entrance of the Alkmaar city hall.

Temperature watch outside: 13C

Tags: Alkmaar Municipality (click Kaasmarkt), Cheese Museum, North Holland Tourism (Alkmaar is part of the North Holland provinces)

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