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Published: October 10th 2017
We had lots of time to explore Latvia today but it was raining all day so we toured, took a nap, and then walked around the neighborhood and bought a few items tonight. It’s 7pm and we are in our room for the night ~ that’s a first! I will say most of the intriguing places we are scheduled to visit on this trip are in Lithuania and Poland where we will spend the most nights on this trip. For now, Latvia does not disappoint. The architecture is almost goth-like. It’s interesting but I would not want to live in a town where I felt as though Batman would need to save me from the bad people.
Just a note about our tour days so far. Typically, our days are long on this tour. We are usually out of our room before 6am, at breakfast around 6:30am, and back in our room for the evening around 10 or 11pm. I tend to fall asleep immediately until 3 or 4am and wake-up and post a blog and get a quick nap (maybe) and get in the shower. We are learning so much on this trip about the history and the people
that it’s kinda like being on an educational tour. Kamie and I like it. Today was different, more free time due to the rain and we are in our room early tonight. Today I watched “The Big Bang Theory” in Latvian while I zoned-out for a few minutes. I have no idea what was being said but it was hilarious to see Sheldon and Penny all with different voices.
The food so far on this trip has been so-so. The breakfasts are the worst. No bacon. Fake eggs. No toast. No “real” sausage – just little red sausages and beans – like pork n’ beans. Groddo. Kamie has ate several meat pies for lunch. He finds it odd they simply say “meat” pies but every time he asks what type of meat, they seem confused – so cow, lamb, deer, bear, etc.. this is all one meat to them he asks? They look at him like he is crazy. Also, there is no Dr Pepper in these countries. Coke and Sprite products only. Our new hotel is in the fancy district of Riga and has an ice machine on each floor (unheard of in Europe) …but no ice buckets
available. The machine dispenses a small little plastic cup and fills it with ice. It’s free but chintzy. WHY are Europeans so chintzy with the ice??? WHY??
Our pictures today are of the local markets – flower market, vegetable market, fish market, and bread market. They have giant airplane hangars which have been turned into their markets. We were all given some hot Uzbekistan bread. You can also try the different sauerkrauts in the market to see which one you want to buy – you just take your fingers and pick-up a piece and put it in your mouth. Kamie did this twice. Disgusting. The bread market smelled warm and good. The fish market was so stinky I thought I would vomit before we got out of there. We walked through the Art District with the cats, lions, people, etc carved into limestone on the sides of the buildings. We went to the old towne – the cobbled streets surrounding a cobblestone square/circle with lots of shops. We saw lots of museums and opera/ballet houses, famous churches, and other buildings. Blah Blah Blah. It was all okay and mostly interesting.
In Estonia we walked to a Chocolaterie and
we all got a free sample of white chocolate with blueberries. It was yummy. Today, we learned about Lithuania’s chocolaterie. The people of the Baltics have a passion for chocolate. All of our tour guides tell us about the chocolate. Each day we have our regular tour guide, Dalija pronounced Daleeya. Dalija is a beautiful blonde, smart, sweet, tough lady. (She cussed a lady driving a Bentley because she was blocking our parking spot once) Some days we get a local guide also who gives us local specifics. So far, all three guides have mentioned the chocolate. Today we were given chocolate balls filled with “Black Death” liquor - it was freaking horrible and I almost choked on the nonsense. Tasted like a thin chocolate ball filled with a disgusting hard liquor and chopped-up leaves. They said it was hard liquor made out of 24 herbs… there is a big story behind how it saved some important person who was sick person years ago… but it was terrible and almost killed me today. They eat the oddest things here. I’m not a big chocolate fan anyway.
Latvians are just like people in most countries we've visited that have little-to-no
religion - superstitious. We visited a local university today and the students do not use the middle stairs because they believe they will fail their exams. They only use the side stairs of this big walkway. If you see a student using the middle stairs it is because he/she has already graduated from the university. Also, all of the church steeples and many buildings have a large rooster on the top. After a new building is completed the architect must climb to the top of the building, straddle the rooster, and drink a glass of champagne. He then throws the glass to the ground. The number of pieces of glass represents the number of years the building will stand. They really believe this because once an architect accidentally threw a glass into a bale of hay and it did not break. The building burned to the ground in less than one year. Are we that superstitious in the U.S.A.? I will have to think about this.
They hate trump here. Signs and posters making fun of him everywhere. They call him Tramp and put lipstick on his pictures. I took a picture of a sticker we got from the
Herbs and Branches for sale
They heat a very hot bath, soak the herbs and branches in the bath water, and then beat themselves with the branches to stimulate their blood. They do this same odd thing in Estonia too.
brewhouse. That’s an actual IPA.
I want to say something really quick about the “old people” we are touring with… they are the nicest group of ladies and gentlemen you ever met. Seriously. Almost all of them have taken the time to get to know us (well, not Blanche, but she’s “busy” ya know). The men are kind and funny. I really think touring with these fine people is probably my favorite part of the trip – it’s sorta like they “know” everything – as in, they’ve been there, done that. They are just the most incredibly kind people you can ever imagine. I like that. 😊 By the way, yesterday Kamie commented to me “Have you noticed how many Jewish people are traveling with us?” Yes Kamie, I replied…. We are touring Auschwitz Concentration Camp in a few days. Oooooooh he says. LOL And yes, there are many Jewish people with us. There are also three couples from New York City – one lives in the burrows of Manhattan and the others live a couple of blocks away. Two couples are lifelong friends. These “hardened New Yorkers” are absolutely the nicest people you’ve ever met. They are super
sweet and soft-spoken, especially the ladies. The men are funny and good friends. Not what you would expect. Anyway, I just wanted to add that age truly is just a number on this trip - I wouldn’t choose to travel with anyone else at this point. We are traveling with treasures. 😊
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