A dose of dosa

One of Jen’s favourite dishes is the legendary dosa prevalent in South Indian cuisine. There’s a good South Indian place near us that does a nice rendition, but I recently discovered* another magical dosa place a bit further afield.

Say the words ‘Saravanaa Bhavan’ to an Indian person (especially one from Chennai) and they will likely get giddy. This magical vegetarian (!) restaurant chain is found throughout India, of course, but what’s most notable is that it now has more locations outside of India than within India. Look at a map of its global locations and it literally traces the path of the Indian diaspora.

Amsterdam has a sizeable (and growing) Indian population, so we were recently graced with our own Saravana Bhavan branch. The guys also like dosa (and chapati and other Southern Indian dishes), so a trip here has long been in the cards. The stars finally aligned this week, so we hopped on our bikes and rode the 20 minutes across town. The verdict was…yum.

* This discovery was made with the help of an ad hoc ‘curry club’ (i.e. a bunch of dudes who like curry) of which I am a member.

We parked across the street in front of the Dutch central bank, which is apparently the funniest thing in the world

The chef loved having an audience


Heading home and inundated by back-rack passengers — a common sight at the weekend

Passengers can also stand on the back rack — this is how a lot of parents transport their kids

Half-day Wednesdays

It usually means a late night of work, but how I cherish warm Wednesday afternoons with these guys…

Winter is officially over when the local ice cream shop opens its doors. This place is right next to school…strategic marketing

Out of the saddle + tongue out = PANACHE

‘ArrĂȘt!’ dit le patron du peloton

Playground-hopping all day

Cartoon bunnies, trains and musical clocks

Quick! What do all three of these things have in common?

Answer: Utrecht.

Yes, the fourth largest city in the Netherlands (name the top three and win a prize) is the birthplace of Nijntje (‘Miffy’ to the rest of the world), the home of the national railway museum and home to a quirky museum featuring all kinds of mechanical music-making devices. Plus, it has the highest church tower in the Netherlands (35 storeys tall!) and a canal system that rivals that of Amsterdam for beauty…in a quainter sort of way.

We came down for an overnight weekend trip that was ostensibly timed to coincide with the Utrecht Marathon. Alas, I had contracted a sinus infection a few days before so was playing the marathoning part of it by ear, but the boys were keen to go and I wasn’t bedridden or anything, so off we went.

Utrecht is only about 35 minutes by train from Amsterdam, so we headed down on Saturday morning. We had reserved a morning slot at the Nijntje Museum and headed there straight from the station. Nijntje was one of our first introductions to Dutch children’s culture, but truthfully she’s a bit young now for the boys, who have moved on to more ‘sophisticated’ fare. But the museum was fun anyway, with a lot of interactive exhibits and explanatory text in Dutch, English and…Japanese. Of course.

From there, we walked to the national railway museum, which, as one would expect in such a rail-centric country, is mind-blowingly awesome. We were there for a while.

Then we walked to our hostel to check in and were pleasantly surprised when we were told that we were in the Nijntje room. Oh yes.

In a bit of wishful thinking, we headed to Utrecht’s most revered Cantonese joint for my pre-marathon meal of choice: cha siu with rice. We had planned on eating here, but they were completely booked all evening long! So we ended up taking out. Julian was not happy; he was hungry and wanted to eat RIGHT NOW. The silver lining for him (and the rest of us) was that the cha siu was good (not as good as Amsterdam). And we encountered a Nijntje walk light on the way back to our hostel.

I had hoped that by Sunday morning I would be good to go, but I was still nowhere near 100%. I’d been training hard all winter and didn’t want to run for the sake of running just to churn out a subpar performance, so I pulled the plug on running the marathon. I was disappointed, but oh well. The best part of a race-cation is the cation, especially with my favourite travel companions. So we made the most of it and visited the Museum Speelklok, which features an amazing collection of mechanical instruments, including clocks and organs. It sounds a bit old lady-ish, but we were all mesmerised. Definitely an irreverent and interesting place.

And with that, we jumped on the intercity train back home. Tot de volgende keer, Utrecht!

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