Lightning trip to Paris (Or: Day 1 of 2)

Marco and I visited Paris last week for about 36 hours — 11:00 Wednesday until 19:30 Thursday. A lightning trip! The reason was to meet up with my brother and sister-in-law who were vacationing in the city. Since they live on the west coast of America, it seemed to be an opportunity one does not pass up. The trip was under three hours by high-speed train (Thalys)…

Marco and I splurged a bit for this trip and traveled first class. One unexpected benefit was the use of the first class lounge at Rotterdam Centraal:

NS International lounge at Rotterdam Centraal

Perks of the lounge: fairly quiet, a free drink, and climate controlled.

Our hotel wasn’t far from the train station in Paris (Gare du Nord) – only about a 15 minute walk. After meeting up with my brother and sister-in-law, we retreated to our hotel room to apply vigorous amounts of sunscreen. And why might we do that, you ask?

Because the temperature for both days while we were there was around 36C (97F). Ughhhh! And in those two days Marco and I managed to walk 38km, or about 23 and a half miles. Don’t worry, the next three days we were extremely lazy and rested our poor aching feet.

First we visited the Louvre museum:

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Blocks of color (Or: Mondriaan inspired art at The Hague’s train station)

Last month a group of friends and I went to Rotterdam for a WWE wrestling show at Ahoy in Rotterdam (I always have to resist the subconscious urge to call the the place ‘Chips Ahoy‘ after the cookie).

While waiting for a few friends getting coffee at Starbucks I took a photo of the Mondriaan inspired art at the train station; Den Haag Centraal.

Mondriaan colors at Den Haag Centraal (train station in The Hague)

And I still love the roof. Which looks even more awesome on a cloudy day.

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Indianapolis 500 practice (Or: In the pits)

Another fun story from my Indianapolis trip last month: my dad was able to get tickets from his work to go to a practice session at the Indianapolis 500, an Indy car race (highest level of open wheel racing in North America). The race is a two week spectacle with practices and mini events occurring in the days before the actual race day.

Indy 500 2017 - The bricks

The brickyard finish line. Which I hadn’t realised stretches all the way outside to the parking lot. Pretty cool!

The tickets are usually given to clients at his company but there were a few no-shows at the last minute due to it being a Thursday, so we were able to go!

First we had a look at the garage where they were working on the cars:

Indy 500 2017 - Fernando Alonso in the number 29 car

The garage of Fernando Alonso. He created quite a sensation when he chose to do the Indy 500 instead of Europe’s Monaco race (Formula 1 series).

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Where are you? (Or: Grandcafé Haagse Bluf)

Here’s a random photo I took while out walking early one morning last month:

Grandcafe Haagse Bluf in The Hague The text reads “Where are you?? At the most beautiful terrace in The Hague!” This is Grandcafé Haagse Bluf, part of the Haagse Bluf upscale shopping area.

And, yet another iced cappuccino and iced chai latte at Hometown coffee.

Iced coffee at Hometown coffee The Hague

What can I say… except that they are delicious!

 

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Vacation photos (Or: The beauty in Central Park)

Here are some of my favourite photos from Central Park…

Central Park in New York City

My favourite photo – the calmness of the park, with the city just behind

View from Central Park - skyline construction

Marco and I slowly crossed this field. At this point we saw a sign, which we read and then turned around. We had no idea this view was behind us!

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Stroopwafels in Indy (Or: At least my parents have a backup plan!)

Another post about “things that remind me of home in America” – this time Belgian stroopwafels (syrup waffles). This was spotted at a local Walmart I believe. Stroopwafels! Take your pick from original on the left or chocolate covered on the right.

Belgian boys mini Dutch stroopwafels

As always, in their original form stroopwafels are great to place over your coffee cup to slowly heat them. Although these minis would probably only fit over an expresso cup… If you don’t drink coffee, try heating them in the microwave in 5 second bursts.

And the chocolate ones are just good all the time.

My last three posts including this one have definitely had a very Belgian theme (the Wafels & Dinges stand in Central Park, the Lotus cookies, which is headquartered in Belgium, and this post). Although at least these bags do label them as “Dutch caramel waffles”.

Check out the story of the founding of the Belgian boys company.

But as the title of this blog post suggests, at least my parents have a backup plan if their stroopwafel supply runs lower. (They were on the lowest shelf in the granola bars section, guys!)

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“Europe’s favourite cookie with coffee!” (Or: Biscoff/Lotus cookies)

Continuing the trend of “things that remind me of home while visiting America”, Marco and I were in a drug/convenience store by the name of Duane Reade when we spotted some Lotus cookies. Except in America it looks like they are known as “Biscoff” cookies.

Lotus cookies renamed as Biscoff cookies in America

They are pretty good with coffee – fairly light, fairly small, so one is just right.

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Wafels & Dinges (Or: Goodness in Bryant Park)

Hi all! I’ve been gone for a while, as Marco and I were in America (three days in New York City as tourists and a week in Indianapolis with my parents). And now we’re back! And to begin with I have a few posts of things that remind me of home, to some degree.

The first is a Belgian waffle stand in Bryant Park, Wafels & Dinges (translates to Waffles and Things). Actually, they have a lot of locations throughout New York City. Here’s a look at the side of the stand:

Wafels and Dinges in Bryant Park

My favourite part is “Speku-what? Spekuloos!

It’s our favourite dinges made from traditional Belgian gingerbread cookies. In places like Dadizele, Zwevezele, and Erps-Kwerps, Belgians spread this dinges on waffles, pancakes or as the sandwich spread (“to spekulate”).

Some people we know also eat it by the spoon (“to overspekulate”).” Heh.

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De Bieb! (Or: Not a library, but a bar)

Near where the old central library used to be you can find a bar that goes by the name “De Bieb“. Bieb is a shortened, slang version of bibliotheek, or library in English. I knew I had to go there when a colleague told me that the bar had black cherry beer!

De Bieb bar in The Hague

My black cherry beer is on the left (Liefmans Kriek). It’s a beer from Belgium, and awesomely sour. Not something you would normally associate with a beer. Marco had a “Funky Falcon” which combines lemongrass, lemon, caramel and more. He let me have a sip – it was quite tasty.

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Flowers at Hobbemaplein (Or: A hint of summer)

Hobbemaplein in May – an area of The Hague known for its market (one of the largest open air markets in Europe, so they say!).

Flowers by Hobbemaplein, The Hague

And a close up of the flowers:

Close up of flowers at Hobbemaplein, The Hague

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