And those were our days in Riga

This is Marianna.

Not the smiling cheery woman on the left, the cool I-don’t-look-at-you-while-you-are-taking-my-picture one in the middle. But dont prejudge her, she is actually a lot of fun.

The favorite parts of this journey for me have been closely connected to people. I dont usually write about them as I am not sure they would like me doing it. But Marianna gives me a chance to do this, as she is already out there, having written a personal blog for even longer than me.

After one evening spent with us, she dreamed of me with a small baby that is going in the nearby water and I allow it without any worry, all the while she is stressing about its safety. That is how relaxed I seemed to her. I don’t know about that, as I would never be caught in the costume she adorned to be part of the Baltica Folklore Festival procession. Now that is relaxed.

She and her family have been the cherry on top of the delicious cake that Latvia turned out to be.

This part of Europe is quite different in its relative capitalist innocence/amateurism and lack of suffocating tourist interest. You would hardly get to improve your alpine skills on the sky scraping, jaw-dropping 200m high…hmm.. bumps around here, but you will eat more sour cream than you ever wanted to, see more green than you thought you wanted to and feast on manicured gardens all over producing delicious morsels for your taste buds.

It is peaceful here. Slow. There is also spark in people’s step, as they are enjoying the few weeks of good weather per year that are mainly served right now, and invite others in the area to join them for the fun. For example a good reason is the largest traditional culture festival in the Baltic states, which was hosted this year by Latvia.

Riga is beautiful, no doubt.

It has plenty of cobblestone to stride on while enjoying the old buildings around. Enough cafes to take a break too.

 

The city is tidy and clean, charming  with green parks and convenient public transport.

 

And lets not forget the churches with tops we had not seen before in Europe, which is an achievement in itself.

 

But none of it can compete with the delight of watching Jeremy crafting bubble art in the backyard with his own hand made tools.

 

And best of all, joining him. Pssst…the kids somehow scored one of those giant bubble makers and now we have a Jeremy original in our possession. If it was a mistake, sorry mate, we are not sending it back!

 

Or the dinners around the big wooden table with mismatching chairs that appeal to me so much and big people plates for our enjoyment. They have worked hard to turn this old house into a home and it certainly felt like all the effort was worth it.

The city is worth seeing, no doubt. But wherever you go, do find yourselves a family like Marianna’s , it makes for a more memorable experience. Always.

Then you might end up walking the night streets with torches stolen from the Baltica festival…

 

..or enjoying rain and sun on the beach with a new friend.

 

And that you cannot buy.

Thank you Marianna, Jeremy and  their boys Mik and Teese (or more affectionately known as Mac and Cheese), who ensured that we barely saw our own kids. If you want to read about life in Latvia with a lot of traditional flavour, take a peak at her corner of the world – Hello Latvia. It is a wonderful read, which is of no surprise, because it is about a set of wonderful people.