Goodbye, Latvia

IMG_7906It’s a strange feeling, watching all of your earthly possessions disappear from plain sight as they are wrapped in paper and placed in boxes and sealed with multiple strips of thick packing tape, the bulk of which will not be seen again for the next year and a half. When they do make their next appearance, it will be in a land far away, a place completely unknown to me, but their job will be the same as always: to make the unknown feel familiar, to make a house or an apartment a home. Continue reading →

Living on Plants in Riga

IMG_7834When M. and I made the decision to transition to a vegan lifestyle nearly two years ago, I was initially concerned that making such a huge change would be extremely challenging, particularly considering that we were living in Riga, Latvia, where meat and dairy make up the centerpieces (and sides) of most meals. I wasn’t sure quite where to begin, especially when it came to dining out, but it didn’t take long for us to figure out how to make fantastic plant-based meals, where to shop for vegan ingredients and other products, and which restaurants offer the best plant-based dining experiences. For a long while now, I’ve wanted to put together a little “being vegan in Riga” guide, and now – just days before our two years here come to an end – I finally feel that I have a strong enough grasp on the concept do it. Continue reading →

Eighty Days and Trying Not to Count

IMG_6925With spring finally upon us (though not without a snow shower here and there) and nearly four months since my last post, our remaining days in Latvia are numbered. Eighty days remain, to be exact… enough time, in the eyes of Jules Verne, to circumnavigate the world, but not nearly enough time for me to reach the point of feeling ready to leave this beautiful place that has come to feel like home. Having never truly had a place I’d consider home, at least in the sense of a hometown or a simple answer to the question “Where are you from?”, it holds great meaning that Riga – which I knew almost nothing about before M. was assigned to work here – has become such a place of comfort. Indeed, I will miss it. We’ll be heading back to the U.S. for about a year, and following that, on to Yekaterinburg, Russia, where many new and exciting adventures surely await.  Continue reading →

Last Latvian Summer

img_4098As the sun rises later and sets earlier with each passing day, Mother Nature announces that fall has arrived, with her crisp breezes and turning leaves. Even though autumn is my favorite season, its arrival this year is a cruel reminder that our remaining days in beautiful Latvia are quickly slipping away. With only about nine months left in our tour here in Riga, our last Baltic summer has officially come to an end. We spent a good chunk of it with family and friends who came to visit us, and proudly showed them the city and country that have become our home over the last eighteen months. We snapped countless photos along the way so that we could forever cherish the true wonder that is summer in Latvia. Here are 50 of my favorites.  Continue reading →

A Run through the Woods: Cesis ECO Trail 81K

IMG_4613If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

This quote, from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., became my mantra yesterday as I navigated my way through Latvia’s beautiful Gauja National Park at the Cēsis ECO Trail 81K race. And though I could never fly, I ran as fast I could when I could and walked when I needed to. And, at times, I even crawled, just to keep moving forward to the finish line.  Continue reading →

Baskets, Wool, and Wood: Latvia’s Biggest Folk Art Fair

IMG_3648Every year on the first weekend of June, Riga’s Ethnographic Open Air Museum hosts its applied arts fair, the largest of its kind in the country. Visitors can stroll through a forest dense with tall trees in search of just about any type of handmade craft. From paintings and hand-knit woolen socks to wrought iron hooks and amber jewelry, there is something for just about everyone. Goods made of wood, ranging from children’s toys to furniture, abound, as do hand-woven baskets of all shapes and sizes.  Continue reading →