Alkmaar is best known for its traditional cheese market. Cheese has been bought and sold on Waagplein square since 1365.
Today’s Alkmaar Cheese Market is for the tourists. Dutch cheesemaking has been a mass-market industrial operation since the 1960s, and the real business if buying and selling cheese takes place in corporate offices.
Much of the ride to Alkmaar and back is along the coast.
Through country like this.
It was summer. The beach at Katwijk aan Zee was packed in a very Dutch way. The chilly wind whips off the North Sea so people sit in beach huts rather out in the open.
North of Ijmuiden is the Binnentoeleidingskanaal. The only way across for bicycles is by ferry.
Alkmaar is 20km / 12.5mi from the Binnentoeleidingskanaal. The cheese market is held on the Waagplein in front of the Town Hall every Friday. A carillon plays from the tower.
Cheese and more cheese.
The traditional bargaining practice is that the buyer and seller slap hands continuously while negotiating the price per kilo for a particular batch of cheese.
The last slap clinches the sale of a batch of cheese.
The Guild of the Cheese Carriers – the guys with the hats – carry the cheeses to the weighing house after the price per kilo has been agreed.
The weighing house.
On my way out of Alkmaar, I couldn’t resist stopping here.
You know what appeltaart met slagroom en koffie means. I drained the glass of Chocomel while waiting for the apple tart and coffee. Chocomel is a Dutch brand of chocolate-flavoured milk that tastes like liquid chocolate. Yummy!
I needed some sustenance for the 80km / 50mi ride through the dunes back to Den Haag.