Back in the USA

IMG_7932It’s been a little more than two weeks since we arrived back in the USA. We have spent the time reconnecting with family and friends, relaxing in nature, and trying to readjust to all of the little things that make the United States unique. The reality that we aren’t simply on vacation, soon to return to our home in Latvia, is starting to set in… not necessarily in a bad way; rather, in a time-to-move-on kind of way. We’ve recovered from our jetlag, and hearing English spoken all around us has started to feel familiar once again.  Continue reading →

Daytime Date in Denmark

IMG_7455In our effort to maximize our remaining time living in northern Europe, we have tried to take little trips here and there to see a few more places before we move back to the U.S. for a while. At the end of May, we took advantage of an inexpensive flight to travel to Copenhagen for the day. At just under an hour, the flight was smooth and easy, and best of all, as we were traveling only for the day, we didn’t have to deal with any bags. Our little daytime date turned out to be one of the most fun days we’ve ever spent together. We discovered that Copenhagen, even on a chilly, cloudy day in May, is a gem of a city! Continue reading →

Under the Israeli Sun

“The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world; it is more, it is the history of earth and of heaven.” 

–  Benjamin Disraeli

IMG_7238If someone had told me a year ago, or even a month ago, that I would take a trip to Israel this spring, I’m not so sure I would have believed him. It’s not that I didn’t want to go to Israel; rather, the thought hadn’t ever really crossed my mind. As an Arab-American, I grew up surrounded by people who had such strong feelings about the politics and conflict – on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian situation – that my impression of the area had become marred by thoughts and images of unrest, violence, and even fear. 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 →

Moved by Mountains: Adventures in Georgia

img_4965What is it that makes a snow-capped mountain jutting up into a clear blue sky from a sea of rolling green hills empirically beautiful? Or the sound of soft waves as the tide comes into shore intrinsically peaceful? A landfill covered with rotting garbage inherently unattractive and an abandoned (or active, if you ask me) strip mall decidedly depressing? After all, no one looks at a river polluted with discarded plastic and says, Wow, that’s really beautiful. Or do they? Who determines what is naturally beautiful and what is not?  Continue reading →

Swedish Getaway

IMG_4414Last weekend, M. and I had the chance to visit Stockholm with our dear friend, L., who lives in another part of Sweden. Just an hour’s flight from Riga, Stockholm was the perfect place for a quick summer getaway. Spending two days in a place barely qualifies as visiting, but with a tight work schedule and limited time, we made the most of this opportunity to get a small taste of Sweden.  Continue reading →