Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas in NY

Last weekend I visited New York for the christmas season: beautiful store decorations, snow in Central Park, and the 72-feet high Christmas Tree next to the Rockefeller Center. While we were there, we also saw the Top-of-the-Rock: the roofdeck of the Rockefeller Center. While it's not as high as the Empire State Building, it does have a beautiful view over Central Park!

I also ran into a Dutch Eatery, named DankU (Thank you). They sold poffertjes (small pancakes) and kroketten (a fried roll filled with minced meat / mashed potatoes - very fat and very delicious). In case anyone is going to NY soon: it's on 57th Street, next to 6th Avenue!

After all the shopping and Starbucking (it was 18 degrees) the Eagles played Sunday at 4.15 pm. Being addicted to American Football already, I had to see the game! Unfortunately, the New York Jets played at the same time, which made it hard to find a bar to go to where they'd show the Eagles... A search on Google however, told me that Tony Lukes (a -locally- famous Cheesesteak restaurant owner) owns a bar in Manhattan, which is always filled with Eagles fans! That was indeed the case: the bar was all green, and the Cheesesteaks were delicious! Too bad the Eagles lost against the Redskins. Here are some pictures from NY:

 

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weekend in the Pocono's

Last week, I´ve spend a long weekend in the Pocono´s, a mountainous are in PA. After a two hour drive from Philly, we arrived in the most cosi house in the US: with four bedrooms and three entertainment-rooms, there actually wasn't any reason to leave the house! I spent the weekend with a group of people from Philly & the suburbs. A pool-table, air-hockey and about seven tv's made it even more comfy.

But the fun part was the environment: the city was traded in for 'pure nature'. It snowed right before we arrived, deer walked by our house, and the house was next to a nice (but frozen) lake. Next to walking and driving around, pooling, air-hockey'ing and chilling, not much happened! But we did make some pictures:

 

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving

Last Thursday, Novermber 27, was Thanksgiving day in the US: the day on which everyone gets all their family together to eat as much (turkey) as possible. Because it was my first thanksgiving, I tried to get the most out of it!

My co-worker Blair invited me to his house for a dinner, that started around noon in his house in the suburbian area of Newark, DE. His son 'Little John' celebrated his first birthday! With a gefeliciteerd (congratulations) decoration, I tried to give him an international experience at a young age. After we filled the 6 feet table with all the turkey & other food, there was barely space left for the plates! We managed everything and enjoyed a great meal while watching the Macy's parade and Football games on his 50' TV.

The next meal was scheduled in Philly's southern suburbs at 4pm. Again turkey, this time combined with potatoes, carrots and mais. After too much (but very good) food รขnd some great conversations on the differences between the holidays in the Netherlands versus the US (for example, try to explain the Sinterklaas story in the US...), we left to go back into the city for the Eagles game!

By now, I am completely addicted to all the sports in the US. Therefore I wanted to go to another Eagles game this year! Since they haven't been playing very well the last few games, the tickets dropped in price, which was a great opportunity to see them on Thursday. And although it got kinda cold, it was definitely worth it: they beat the Arizona Cardinals with 48-20!! After 6 touchdowns, the stadium was going comletely crazy.

Summarized: a long, gezellig, and entertaining Thanksgiving day which I won't forget! Thank you Blair, and Carrie's parents for having me over! Here are some pictures of the day:

 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'm dreaming of a white... Thanksgiving?

This is how the weather turns around on the East Coast: two months ago, during the ING Direct Cycle4Savings ride, it was 80 to 90 degrees daily, perfect temperature! Last month the fall started (see below), however I was usually able to leave my jacket at home, which I hadn't used since May anyway. But last week, it started snowing! With Thanksgiving ahead, it's a cold start of the party-season.

Many cities in the US are built with a simple mind: all the streets are straight, and run from East to West or from North to South. Every 300 feet there's an intersection, and all the space in between these intersections is a block. Not difficult if you're in a new city and you're looking for something; there's only four ways to go... However, there's a huge disadvantage in the winter: the wind blows full-speed through these streets, and makes the temperature feel like it's at least 10 degrees colder than it actually is!

It gave a nice view though, from the ING Direct office in Wilmington, Delaware:

 

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fall pictures

Fall in North-East US is a beautiful thing, for about two weeks at least, when leafs start changing colors. All the colors of the rainbow can be seen together; especially when the sun shines, it gives outstanding views! Unfortunately, it rained a lot this fall, so the leafs fell (too) soon… :(

Here’s a selection of pictures I took around Philadelphia and Wilmington:

 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

76ers

Hockey, Baseball and American Football. What's missing? Basketball! This sport is relatively small in Philadelphia, because their NBA team ‘76ers’ are not performing very well. Moreover, the games are hard to see from the nosebleed section (inexpensive seats, but you are so high up that your nose will start bleeding). Therefore most fans watch the games on TV.

However, thinking about the fact that my time in the US will be over in only three months, I realized that a basketball is definitely another must-see. A co-worker hooked me up with cheap tickets, in a section where my nose didn’t start bleeding :)

The 76ers (last in the Atlantic Eastern League) played the Utah Jazz (first place in the Northwest Western Conference). It was a very good game, unfortunately the 76ers ended up losing with 93-80.

Although it was not as busy as the average Flyers or Eagles game, it was filled with entertainment: hip-hop music, short games during time-outs (like kids dunking via a trampoline) and of course the cheerleaders were there. Another important tradition in the US occurs right before every game: the national anthem. Here’s the video (of the anthem) and some pictures of the game:





 

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Presidential Elections

Many people asked me how I experience the Presidential Elections, being an 'outsider in the middle of it'. Well, a short summary: it was like a popularity contest, focusing on public performances more than on the way this country should be led in the future. However, it was a unique experience to see the amount of media attention, and attend activities in the city (such as Bruce Springsteens performance, or Hillary's speech earlier this year).

One of the other things I noticed, is the media's influence on the elections. Comparing the conservative foxnews.com with the democratic msnbc news, both suggesting they have breaking news, you'll see many differences in the news topics and the way the news is brought to viewers. Fox news (the biggest channel in the US) allways tries to warn people for terrorists, criminals, socialists, illegal immigrants, and government supported health care like in extremely liberal Europe. Moreover, Barack HUSSEIN Obama is young and unexperienced, his friends are terrorists, he used to be a muslim, doesn't show patriotism, and wants to spread the wealth by giving your hard-earned money to someone that doesn't work as hard as you do. Here is an example of the propaganda, one day after Obama's victory:


On the other side, according to MSNBS News, the republicans want to have a war in as many countries as possible, give tax cuts to all the rich people, and try to find oil (no matter what the damage to the planet is) so that the economy can keep rolling. In other words: a vote for McCain only creates more problems.

The channels themselve deny any influence in terms of propaganda or preferred political party. But a quick search on Youtube (for example, searching for keywords "Obama Fox") shows another perspective. Obama told a reporter that if he would only be watching Fox News, he would not even vote for himself!

Anyhow, for him, it's party time now: