We got up early to go to the cheese market at Alkmaar. When we left the coach it was just cloudy and the forecast was for light showers.
The town of Alkmaar was founded in the 10th century in the middle of a marsh. The name was taken from a diving bird called an alkeen or auk.
We easily found a car park along with many more tourists coming into the town for the cheese market. We were right next to the Waagplein (Main Square) where the cheese market takes place so was able to get a good view of the proceedings. The coach tours were already there!
Cheese has been sold in the main square since the 13th century but the market seen today is really to bring in the tourist. The market started at 10 o’clock and as if the weather knew the rain started. The explanation of what was going on was given in four languages but it did take a while to grasp the sequence of events!
The market starts with the buyers sniffing, crumbling and tasting the cheese. Then there is bartering on the price. After a deal is struck the cheese is borne away on ornamental carriers by porters all dressed in white plus black hats with colour bands that represent the four companies that compromise the cheese porters guild . After weighing and payment the cheeses are taken away by the buyers.
It was interesting to see but not that thrilling particularly with the now heavy rain. Tony decided to head for the nearest cafe.
After having enough of the market we decided despite the rain to have a brief walk around Alkmaar before heading back to the campground. It was a pity the weather was so bad as Alkmaar looked a really nice town- but we were too wet to appreciate it.