Posts Tagged With: Vacation

Mickey time (Or: More photos from Disneyland Paris)

I have so many photos to show, and not enough blog posts…

First, a few photos of Marco, Roger and I’s trip to Disneyland Paris with Dutch influence:

Disneyland Paris - It's a small world (Dutch)

A look at the Dutch section of the “It’s a small world” attraction – windmills, tulips and clogs of course!

Disneyland Paris - It's a small world, outside

Outside, the various translations of “It’s a small world!”. The Dutch translation is off to the right, in blue. “De wereld is maar klein, hoor!”

Silver Spur Disneyland Paris menu cover in Dutch

Restaurant menu from “Silver Spur” – a steakhouse we ate at on our last night at the park. 

(above) They had asked what country we were from. When we got to the table we were handed Dutch menus. A thoughtful gesture, but we weren’t sure how the wait staff would understand what we wanted to order. Perhaps it would be done on the “point with your finger” system.

The only confusing thing was that the dessert section read “Coffee or tea, 11 euros” in Dutch. We were very confused. How could coffee or tea cost 11 euros? We later got our hands on an English menu which read “Coffee or tea, plus a selection of desserts, 11 euros”. Okay, that makes more sense!

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Weekendje weg (Or: Disneyland Paris, 25th anniversary)

Weekendje weg = a short weekend trip. A bit ironic here, since our trip was five days…

Last weekend (Thurs-Mon), Marco, Roger and I went to Disneyland Paris. This was my second time – the first was during our honeymoon in 2013. And this time we splurged a bit, booking a suite in Sequoia Lodge, a hotel themed after the American northwest. The excuse was that we were with three adults, so this way everyone has plenty of room! And little did we know that the complimentary VIP fast passes (unlimited use) would quickly come in handy when we realized we arrived in the middle of a French school holiday…

We went by train, taking the Thalys from Rotterdam. First class! So free breakfast when you board at 7am. That got us to Gare du Nord, the train station in Paris. Then we had to take the metro (45 minutes to an hour) to get to Disneyland itself. It’s east of the city. We booked “Disneyland express” which meant that when you arrive at the Disney train station you can drop off your luggage and collect your park entrance tickets and VIP fast passes right then and there. They deliver your luggage to the hotel while you go straight to the park. We ended up not getting to the hotel until around 8 or 9pm that night.

Another perk of the room type – separate registration area! It was like opening a new bank account – you went to a desk, with two chairs for the guests. You have a seat while they get the last formalities squared away. There was a bowl of 25th anniversary golden coins (dark chocolate), free for the taking. We took a few, not knowing just how many we’d get during this five day trip…

At this point the worker called someone to let them know what our room number was so they could deliver the luggage to the room and open the sofa bed for Roger. We didn’t go to the room right away, but instead headed over to the “Golden Forest” lounge (for anyone with a Golden Forest room or better). It was a strange experience – there was no one else there! Unfortunately that was the only time we would see the place empty again.

Sequoia Lodge Golden Forest lounge

The advantage of the Golden Forest lounge – it is also a breakfast area, and you can get breakfast whenever you want between 7 and 11am. During breakfast they open both rooms. The first time Marco and I went to Disneyland together, we stayed at the New York hotel and had to pick half hour slots when we wanted to have breakfast (first come first serve at hotel checkin). This was much more relaxed.

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

Continuing my previous past about our first day in Paris, here is what Marco and I saw on day 2 of our lightning trip to Paris:

Fountain of Innocents, Paris

The Fountain of Innocents

Near the beginning of our walk we unexpectedly came across the Fountain of Innocents (or, at least, it was unexpected for me – perhaps it was part of Marco’s master plan all along!).

Statue in Tuileries garden, in Paris, with ferris wheel in background

My favourite picture – taken from the Tuileries Garden

And then my favourite picture, as we walked through the Tuileries Garden.

Place de la Concorde from a distance, Egyptian obelisk

And here is a view of the Place de la Concorde. I had to get a photo of the duck! (the piece of wood is to help birds get back out of the water)

In the distance you can see the Luxor Obelisk.

Fontain de la Concorde, Paris

One of the fountains at Place de la Concorde

Place de la Concorde has two fountains dedicated to the maritime industry in France.

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

We also walked past Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (not the Arc de Triomphe everyone thinks of, though).

And my last photo is from the shopping mall near the Louvre, as we were walking back to the train station:

The Inverted Pyramid in Paris

The Inverted Pyramid

The Inverted Pyramid. Made even more famous by the Da Vinci Code… 😉 Although it was already famous!

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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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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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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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Not so Christmasy Christmas (Or: San Francisco for the holidays)

Last week Marco and I were in San Francisco for the holidays with my parents, brother and sister-in-law. It was a short trip, but a lot of fun! I didn’t take too many pictures this time, but here is a small sampling:

san-francisco-pier

One of the piers at San Francisco

bridge-in-san-francisco

San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (not to be confused with the Golden Gate bridge which everyone photographs)

powell-and-market-cable-car-san-francisco-wooden-platform

Powell and Market cable car

This cable car is positioned at the turnaround point – the cable car stops on a wooden platform before being rotated to head back in the same direction it came. See a demonstration at YouTube.

holiday-sugar-castle-in-westin-hotel-san-francisco-2016

Sugar castle at Westin St. Hotel lobby, San Francisco (free to view, donations optional)

We also visited the Exploratorium, an interactive exhibit hall for both kids and adults. It was a lot of fun and I can highly recommend it. One of the exhibits was the Curious Contraptions exhibit. Clicking the link will show a short 47 second video of what made them so curious…

swimmers-at-exploratorium-curious-contraptions-exhibit

Turn a crank and watch the item move (or in this case, press a button on the outside of the glass since these items are too delicate to be touched directly).

Another example of automata are the Dutch Strandbeest creatures created by Theo Jansen, born in nearby Scheveningen. Those were also referenced in the Exploratorium.

Finally, here is a fun workout for you:

manual-counter-at-exploritorium-in-san-francisco

“Your turn counts” exhibit

Read more about it at the exhibit page – basically if you turn the lever at the right, the wooden wheel spins. Turn that ten times and the grey wheel (currently at 0, though the 9 can also be seen) turns once. Turn THAT once (so the wooden wheel 100 times) and the next wheel turns, the black one currently at 0, and so on. Patience…

All in all a fun trip. And you better believe we raided a few grocery stores for some American snacks!

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