Alkmaar is a city with population just over 100,000 in the north of the Netherlands. Its cheese market, which is held in the central square from April to August, is the main attraction. Outside of this period there a number of museums of interest, including a cheese museum and many medieval buildings. The city is an easy 35 minute direct train journey from Amsterdam Centraal station and fifty minutes, with one change, from Schiphol airport.
Their football club, AZ Alkmaar, are two-time winners of the Eredivisie, the second in 2009 under Louis van Gaal. They play at the newly constructed (2006) AFAS Stadium in the south of the city. It has a nice friendly feel to the stadium and is thoroughly recommended as an alternative to the ‘Big Three’ of Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV.