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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Self-serve! (Or: Starbucks at the movie theatre)

Earlier in the month we saw Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2. Great movie! While there I was able to check out the new coffee options, as the Pathé movie theatre by Spui now has self-service Starbucks coffee.

Self-serve Starbucks at Pathe Spui, The Hague

Apparently it’s been around for a few months but this is the first movie I had seen since they installed it.

Starbucks in Pathe Spui, The Hague

Of course you don’t have all of the options you would with a full-service Starbucks, but it is still some nice coffee, especially when viewing a movie in the morning!

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Removing temptation (Or: Bus and tram benches being replaced in The Hague)

Back in March 2015 The Hague replaced the shelters at bus and tram stops. The best part of the new design in my opinion was the much prettier glass on the sides and top. The design also included new benches which have since become an issue for curious kids. Have a look and see if you can guess what the issue is:

Holes in the bus and tram shelter benches in The Hague

Yep. The holes (which are used to drain off rainwater) are just the right size for a curious kid to stick their finger in. It took around a year (August 2016) for the first curious kid to get a few fingers stuck in the bench but after that the incidents just kept coming this year. With the first child they decided to administer anesthesia on the spot and cut out the bench around the finger, but since then they have removed an entire section of the bench and transported the child to the hospital (with part of the bench still around his finger) to remove it there.

Last month it was decided that the benches would be replaced using the advertising money the shelter generates, but it was still at a cost of more than half a million. The benches now use slits rather than holes to let the rainwater escape. The replacement of the benches began on May 2nd and will take until mid-July. And guess what happened on May 2nd? Yep, another kid got his fingers caught!

Speaking of trams, a friend and I went to the remise or depot in Scheveningen to see (one of the places) where the trams are stored overnight. This is also where the workers start and end their shifts.

HTM remise in Scheveningen.jpg

Tram remise in Scheveningen

The tram above is being driven backwards into the remise. There’s a small grey box at the back of these older trams which tram drivers can use to “back the tram in”. That way they are facing the right direction when they need to leave in the morning. It’s only needed for the older types – the two types that have come since then are made to be driven from either direction during normal operation.

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