Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Kristien Morato: Flemish reporter in Hollywood

For this month's Gazette van Detroit I interviewed my Het Laatste Nieuws colleague Kristien in Hollywood.

Click here for the interview with this stunning and talented young lady!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Chicago Special

Belgian touroperator Connections launched its Chicago campaign yesterday and guess what? I will be the one guiding Belgians (and others!) around this wonderful city in of course my own, special way.
Meaning: no rides in the Navy Pier ferris wheel but instead I might take you for a couple of rides in some of Chicago's elevators. You might be surprised by what you will see. For lunch I suggest you skip the Chicago deep dish pizza (we have really good thin crust pizza here, which we all like better by the way) but a hot dog on the other hand: go for it. But please: no ketchup! Put some mustard, onion & relish instead. .. Or try to track down one of the tamales guys ( I may just know the way to find out about their whereabouts ... )
And instead of visiting Union Station (which I will show you anyway ), why not go for a train ride (this one never comes free - Ventra needs to make some money out of it...)
If you wish to find out about this and a whole lot more: this is your lucky day/week, because Connections just launched their  'Chicago Special' (for bookings until March 23rd, travel until November) with rates starting from 749 euro per person, including flights Brussels - Chicago - Brussels and three nights in a double room. I promise you: this is a BARGAIN!

Hope to see you all soon!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My Chicago Bucket List - Spring 2015 - Part I

Okay folks, I have decided that as from today winter is over. Officially.
Temperatures are climbing, we have set our clocks to Daylight Saving Time, the skies are blue and my hibernation is finally over. Enough reasons to throw a barbecue, go for a walk without the never elegant snow boots or the depressing thermal underwear that makes you feel at least 10 pounds heavier than you actually are, or just be euphoric about the sun and .  Trust me: spring definitely IS here!

And that calls for a Chicago Spring 2015 bucket list!

*  Attend at least one Chicago Fire soccer game 

This was on my fall bucket list as well and guess what: I did it and it was a great experience, even though it was quite a boring game (0-0) against Montréal Impact, and Americans still consider it a girls sport: we are Europeans and we love it. You can find the Chicago Fire schedule online, so if you're in Chicago and want to join us: the more the merrier!

* Try as many food trucks as possible 

(c) Chicago Food Truck Fest
While working on my next big project (more news on that later this week), I discovered a great website which I decided to share with you all: The Chicago Food Truck Finder. On this website you find most food trucks and the location they can be found. I love the idea!
And there is of course Chicago Food Truck Fest: not to be missed! The date remains to be announced, but news is posted on a regular basis on the event's Facebook page.
I think it is about time that the city does something about all these - sometimes stupid - food truck rules. This is one of those things they should promote instead of making it hard for all those creative entrepreneurs ...  Are you reading this Mr E

* Discover as many Chicago neighborhoods as possible 

This wonderful city has 77 neighborhoods and the plan is to discover every single one of those. It would be a little optimistic to say I want to discover all of those neighborhoods this spring (or this year) but a girl can only try, right?

*(finally!) Buy a bike and use it as often as Chicago weather will permit me 

(c) Choose Chicago 
When I was still living in Antwerp - which seems such a long time ago already - I depended on my bike to take me all around town. I really want to start biking here as well, since one of our mayor's goals is to make Chicago America's most bike friendly city. And we are well on our way according to Bicycle Magazine. In 2010 Chicago was in 10th place in their biannual ranking of the US 50 most bike friendly cities, in 2012 we moved up tot number 5 and last year we took 2nd place, after New York which is still number one. I wonder if we can take the lead next year. For those interested: you can find a ton of information on Chicago's bikeways on the city's department of transportion's website.  Chicago Bike Week is June 12 - 19th. But I won't wait that long to get my new set of wheels, since we have a great bike shop only three blocks from our place. Kozy here I come!

* Wine & dine outside whenever I can 

This spring I want to find out all about patios, terraces, outdoor dining, beer gardens, .... in this beautiful city. For over ten years I have been working from home.  Working from home has its perks, I am available for breakfast, lunch, drinks (almost) anytime :-)

* to be continued * 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Belgium & Big Apple Books

It's been a while since I talked about a book here, so well: here are three books I had the pleasure to add to my collection over the last couple of weeks. I am still enjoying them and am 100% sure that I will be enjoying them for a long time to come.

* België - een beZoekboek (Thaïs Vanderheyden) - Borgerhoff Lamberigts* 

When I first read about this book, I simply had to have it. When I first opened the package sent by my sweet mom & step dad I couldn't wait to show it to León. He was impressed as well and can't wait for the next 'show and tell' day at school. In this book the very talented illustrator & child book author Thaïs Vanderheyden takes you to the most beautiful and interesting places in Belgium: the Antwerp zoo,  the beach in Ostend, the beautiful train station by the Spanish architect Calatrava in Liege, the Ardennes and a whole lot more. Loads of famous Belgians are featured in the book: Adolphe Sax, Jean-Marie Pfaff, Jacques Brel and many many more. It is a must have for Belgium lovers, especially for those living abroad.

België, een beZoekboek - Thaïs Vanderheyden - 19,95 euro - order on Bol.com (Dutch only for now)

*BENY (Patrick Van Rosendaal) - Lannoo * 

Patrick is the first tour guide and entrepreneur to own the first 100% Belgian tour guide company in New York. When he lost his heart in and to the city, the urge to share his passion became so big he had no other choice but to become a tour guide. He is now an official member of GANYC and the city hardly has any secrets for him. Patrick and his team have guided thousands of Belgian and other tourists in the Big Apple and every single one of them enjoyed a unique experience. In this book, Patrick and 22 other locals share their hot spots, insider tips and most interesting New York stories. Again: a must have if you are planning a first, second, or ... any visit to the Big Apple.

BENY - Patrick Van Rosendaal - 22.99 euro - order on Bol.com (Dutch or French, English & German translations on their way)

*Must Eat NYC (Luc Hoornaert & Kris Vlegels) - Lannoo * 

Many of you may know it already: I love good food. And I love New York. So this book, written by a long-time food professional with amazing photography by the talented Kris Vlegels, caught my attention immediately. It covers everything a foodie like me needs to know when going to New York: where to get the best ramen, where to try South American food, the best pizza and of course: food trucks and carts.  Even though the author is an importer of wines & high-end Japanese ingredients living in Antwerp, he has been visiting New York for many, many years, mostly to eat. He claims he never found more culinary bliss than in New York. Dear Luc, please consider this an invitation to come and visit Chicago ...

Bonus: when you buy the book, you can download the app too

Must Eat NYC - Luc Hoornaert & Kris Vlegels - 24.99 euro - order on Bol.com (English version)