Monday, December 23, 2013

Art Nouveau Museum in Riga

The Art Nouveau Museum is a pleasant, cosy, well-preserved museum in Alberta street the heart of Art Nouveau in Riga. Although it's not so big, the exhibits are multiple and much fun.
I haven't taken the photo of the fridge of that time, so don't forget to ask them to show it to you when you're there.
More about Art Nouveau hère. 
A waffle maker with a recipe. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Art Nouveau in Riga

Since the weather in Latvia in winter may be quite nasty with drizzle and wind, if you decide on traveling there anyway, you should plan on visiting the places indoors mostly. So the next post is going to be about the Art Nouveau Museum.

Riga is subject to a thorough study by Art Nouveau lovers. Its centre is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage for the amount and quality of Art Nouveau architecture.  About 40 % of all the buildings in the historical centre of Riga are in Art Nouveau style.

When the style was being developed, Riga experienced a considerable inflow of educated professionals  from abroad who were partially Latvians returning from their studies and partially rich businessmen from  Russia.  This is why lots of Riga's "exhibits" were designed by Latvian architects.

Influenced by the style architects translated their hope for more harmony between urban sprawl with its stress and lost sense of life's order and the harmony of natural forms, intricate, opulent and inspiring.

Alberta street, the one in which the Art Nouveau Museum is situated, is one of the finest examples of Riga's Art Nouveau.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

the Gutenberg Hotel in Riga and Christmas celebration

Last Christmas we were in Riga staying at the Gutenberg Hotel. Here I'm going to tell you what's it like   staying in Riga for Christmas holidays.

People.  Happy and easy-going regardless the nasty weather there was throughout all the Christmas of 2012/13.

Weather. It wasn't particularly cold, not at all. Actually, for me as a Russian, - 2 to +5 was perfect winter weather. But it was raining. So in case you're planning your Christmas holiday in Riga this year, get an umbrella at the ready.

Prices. Not so low since we stayed at the Gutenberg hotel, boutique hotel.   Right in the centre of Riga, cosy and atmospheric. The Dome Cathedral is next to it and the hotel is situated in the street called Dome street (Doma laukums).

It was a  two-roomed Junior Suite suitable for throwing a party for 5-6 people. Very clean. A bit chilly in the room, though. To my taste, could have been warmer inside so that I would have worn a nice silk gown in the room.

The substantial breakfast included: some champagne if you're not too late for breakfast, salads of different kinds, sweets and buns, cereals.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The weather

The cool and temperate climate of Latvia which I've lauded all the time is no more reality. It's +30 / +37 C, and for August when it can be +14 C, it IS something exraordinary.

I went to swim yesterday evening expecting the sea would be warm. However, since the wind was from the sea, the water was disappointingly cold, let's say "Refreshing."

The chocolate is melting on the plate...


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A beach near Ragaciems.

The villages near Jurmala along the Baltic Sea beach are incredibly cosy, clean and quiet.
The beaches there are cleaner and less crowded that those of central Jurmala.

Yesterday's evening. Ragaciems. The beach.

Cheap garden flowers

What we haven't got in Moscow, is cheap garden flowers. ONNNly roses: sold at 30 dollars per bouquet.

The flowers old women sell at the market in Kauguri are considerably cheaper, therefore, won't make you a million. However, not less enjoyable.

A pleasure at 1.5 lats (about 3 dollars)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Laci: bread and bisquits.

Laci (means "bear") is a Latvian bakery. They produce different kinds of bread, bisquits, cakes. In this post I want to tell you about the company since all their products I've tried are invariably of good quality.

I am particularly fond of bread that contains dried fruit and nuts. We've  been consistent and loyal bakery's customers for two years and luckily haven't been disappointed.
My favourite bread by Laci

Actually we have been very much into these. )))) Only we've overeaten them.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Souvenirs you may bring from Latvia

Some ask what souvenirs you may buy in Latvia. The usual answer is amber. However, it's not the only choice you have.

I've bought certain things in Latvia, which I consider to be perfect presents or souvenirs you may keep yourself or give to your friends.


A cycling trip to Engure.

Engure, a lake in Latvia,  is a part of an ancient sea separated from the Baltic Sea long ago by a strip of land. It is also famous for its abundant fauna including birds, cows, wild horses.

View Engure, Latvia in a larger map The trip to Engure (a town near the lake) took us about 8 hours including breaks for tea and refreshments, and swimming. The road is partially a highway, relatively busy, quiet at times. Partially it is a quiet road covered with asphalt all way long and is macadam on the sides. There is NO special lane for riding bikes. Just when you enter the towns on your way you'll have these bike lanes.

 After you pass Ragaciems, you'll see lots of nice beaches. The sea is deeper there and the beaches are not so crowded as in Jurmala.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Today' shopping in Kauguri

The market in Kauguri is not so large but it has everything: from different kinds of meat (Latvian produce) to vegetables and berries. Diary products are mostly home produce (some are from Litva and Estonia) and are very good. All - fresh and reasonably priced.

Today I've bought some berries.  Strawberries are at 2.50 lats per kilo. Sweet cherries - don't remember. Altogether all the berries cost me 4.87 lats. That's about 10 dollars.

Sweet cherries are good for your blood, have cancer-preventive components, good for digestion.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Shopping in Riga and Shopping Centre "Spiice".

You may give me unapproving looks and talk behind my back that I'm excessively fond of shopping, even have a disorder of some kind. I will speak my mind anyway, and stand my ground relating healing power of shopping.

Nothing can distract/prevent me from going shopping anywhere in the world. Germany, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Latvia - the rich culture and history of the countries all fade away compared to bright boutiques of a shopping centre or hustle and bustle of a street market.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Festival of Song and Dance in Latvia

The celebration takes place every 5 years and is a complex week-long series of concerts of Latvian folk music. The history of it started 140 years ago whcn the Latvians gathered to show their independence from the Germans by performing their folk dances and songs. Mostly folk music is on the programme of which I have always been a fan.

UNESCO has recognized this unique event as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. A choir of 13 000 singers participate in the final concert.

The Latvians prepare for the festival beforehand when  choirs, ochestras are shortlisted. Only the best singers, dancers, musicians of the country participate.

Now, my personal experience:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Riding to Tukums 2

Tukums is a town, tidy, well-kept, even idyllic in some corners.  Regardless the fact that it's small, it has  sites to see. 
First of all, it has a tourist information center with an extensive collection of brochures about Latvia's sites. 
There is also a linen clothes shop, not a cheap one, but with an interesting collection of modern and stylish clothes for children and adults. Bags, scarves, tablecloth, hats... It's worth dropping in.  
Horse riding school, classes at 8 lats per hour. 
Minor sculpture here and there. 

It order to get to Tukums you ride along the lake system Kanieris. When riding past the lake system Kanieris, you can go boating to break from the routine of riding. It's a bird paradise so you will undoubtedly see some swans, egrets. We saw a harrier once.  Go there on week-days, since people go fishing there at weekends and scare away birds.  Take along binoculars, a camera. You can spend some hours on the bird-watching tower nearby.
The cat at the boat center. He was unwilling to socialize but I got him against his will. I suspect he is too spoilt with all those fish he's treated to by fishermen at the boat station. 
 We always ride along outskirts of towns and villages. There's no traffic.
 The tower for bird watchers.

The restaurant of the central hotel of Tukums, called Tukums, a room at 20 lats=40 dollars.  The room was relatively spacious, and clean. However, the window was on the roof and, with the weather in Latvia being changeable, one can't leave it open at night or when going outside. It can start raining at any moment and you'll end up with a room full of water. So that was the only inconvenience we had there: always having to close the window. 
The dishes were adorably cheap, beautifully served, tasty Have a look at the pie with strawberries! 
 The center of Tukums. 

Riding to Tukums 1

Riding a bike in Latvia is an unbeatable pleasure. It's never too hot or too cold for  riding hours in a row. I  daily  got my bike and rode along the beach. There are kilometers of riding paths in the pine forest or along the seacoast - it's up to you to choose.

No matter how far from Jurmala or Riga you ride, you'll always see either a nice hotel or a cafe to get a nap or a snack. And what's exotic about it? Compared to Russia, which is also crammed with hotels, boutique- hotels(even in some remote town where people earn like 200 dollars per month), restaurants, you are guaranteed to have a good meal or service at a reasonable (if not unexpectedly cheap) price. I mean in Russia you're not. Compared to Western European countries, everything is considerably cheaper.

 Riding along the coast in the pine forest... Breathing in and out...

 Dozens of paths in the forest, not easy riding...

Baltic Sea, special.

Lativa is a tiny country compared to the Russian Federation or the USA, or China. When I first visited it, I have never thought I would get to love it more each year.

Today's post is about its sea. Most of you have been to the Black , the Red, the Dead Seas, the ocean is unparalleled as well. The Baltic Sea is somehow different.

For those who have goose pimples just when  temperatures fall below +20 Celsius, the Baltic Sea may feel like the Arctic Ocean.  Despite being rather cold, it has the charm that you won't get anywhere in the South.  Faded colours don't bother, excite or exhilarate,  they have a more relaxing, unwinding influence.

Enjoy the slide show here

On the bright side the sea is perfectly good for exercising yourself. It is not for over-pampered Indians, "Floridians" or  Africans. It will never be warm enough for them. At the same time no other sea will clear your mind and freshen up your body momentarily after immersion.  Even in the middle of summer your body tightens up, frosen at first, getting the hottest wave of blood all over you afterwards. That will undoubtedly improve your health like no aspirin or healthcare can do. I once got rid of a bad cough by plunging into ice-cold water.

Well, plunging... It's not that easy, you can't actually plunge into the Baltic Sea. It's shallow.  One wades into the blue hazy distance for a long time in order to plunge in the end. And again, it's advantageous  for those who travel with children, or those who want to see where all the putti go on holiday.  On a warm day putti, chubby and pinkish, with blue eyes and blonde curls are all around the beaches. Mothers never worry about the creatures too much since they wade knee-deep in the sea.

Another thing I like about the Baltic Sea is its rejuvenating influence on my skin. It's not like after swimming in  the Red Sea, when you wash away the salt right after splashing around to prevent skin irritation . It's more like mineral water you're swimming in, it has milder impact on your skin, smoothes out wrinkles and makes your skin glow.

I always travel off the beaten track mostly discovering wonder spots, untouched and almost pristine.

Jurmala is a popular tourist destination in Latvia, it holds a pop music competition "New Wave" which attracts Forbs list people. It's more likely that not the competition itself attracts them but young singing (or just walking to and fro) starlets arriving at Jurmala in hords of short-skirted young ladies at that time.   The cosy Jurmala art nouveou style country houses are all around creating the atmosphere of 19th century and all that stuff...

Regardless all those exciting attractions (except those short-skirted ones, not so exciting to me) of Jurmala I  direct my bike further south, 10 kilometers from Jurmala, to Ragaciems. The sea is deeper there, cleaner. The beach is never crowded, and always clean.

The above pictures were taken in August, the weather was cool and the sea looked like mercury overflowing the brim of the sea bowl. Riding along the coast was weird, so unrealistic the surface looked.