Postcard from Latvia

Last week we attended a conference near Riga, Latvia. Here are some of the interesting sites we saw.

Many of the old buildings had distinctive shapes to them and, surprisingly, many windows. I figured that the cold winters would require architects to minimize the windows.

Modern buildings were uniquely built also, in a very boxy style. 

 Our conference was in the resort town of Jumala  on the Baltic Sea. The beach-side resort building was old and a bit dilapidated, but from this distance it is very picturesque.

Several people commented on how much the Latvians loved flowers. There were manicured flowers even along the highways.

St. Peter's was built in the 1200s. Riga was the first city to become Lutheran in 1522, shortly after the Reformation began.

Recycling - European Style

Every two or three blocks, bins like these can be seen on street corners. Of course, these are the recycle bins used in Prague. The blue one is for paper-"papir". Yellow is for plastics-"plasty". White and green are for glass-"sklo". Clear glass goes in the white bin and colored glass in green one. The orange ones are for beverage containers-"tetrapak".

Thousands of these bins have been distributed throughout the city in the last fifteen years to cut down on trash. It has done a fantastic job since Czech Republic is the fifth country overall in Europe for recycling.

We've noted some interesting things about the recycling here. Paper and cardboard can both be put in the blue bin. Even large cartons can be put in after being cut up. The plastic bin is for any kind of packaging or wrapper that isn't paper including plastic from a package of paper towels, etc. The orange bins are for cartons used for milk, orange juice, etc. All milk and jui…


It's been hot here lately. I guess that's no surprise. After all, it's August. The reality of no air conditioners is finally hitting home. When temperatures get to 93 degrees during the day and cool off to 70 degrees at night, we long for an air conditioner.

But we are faced with the fact that our only air conditioners are the windows we have to open, or shut, at will. As you can see in the picture, we have the "old fashioned" kind of windows in our new apartment. It's actually two windows that need to be opened to get any fresh air to come in.

Many European windows have the kind that either open on the side, or tilt in, leaving a small space open on the top. Our building hasn't been upgraded to that type yet. But of course, we have no screens on any of our windows (to make things more interesting).

When the thermometer is reading 85 or more outside, it's really not advisable to open the windows. So during the days when the temperature soars, we leave …


Since we took a stroll along the cobbled streets of Old Town last week, I thought that you might be interested in knowing about cobblestones in newer parts of town. To be sure, most streets and roads are not cobbled at all today. They are paved like in the US.

However, in the tourist or higher rent areas, roads are still cobbled today - many of them in a decorative pattern. As you can see from the picture of my husband standing in front of a statue, the people who laid the cobbles wanted you to know that it was in 1882.

The question that crossed my mind was how, or who cobbled these streets to look so beautiful. A couple weeks ago when I was walking to our friends house, I received the answer to both questions. So, even if this cobbled street was laid in 1882, the same process is still used today by very hard working Czechs.

As I walked down the street, I saw that it was filled with cobbles lying about. It was obvious that the cobble laying process was going on.

I wanted to show you t…


The streets of Europe seem to have a story to tell by themselves. In Prague, the oldest parts of the city have the narrowest streets. Of course, that's not much of a surprise. They weren't built for car and truck traffic hundreds of years ago.

Some streets are hardly wide enough for a car to pass through. In the area close to our church, a pedestrian has to back up against the wall of the building when a truck drives down the street. Of course, most of the time pedestrians occupy the center of those streets.

One thing is certain about the old streets in central Prague. They are all made of cobblestones. Some of the cobbled streets must be hundreds of years old. When I take a look at them, I'm sure I'm walking on ancient history. The stones are laid out with either small gravel or dirt between them. As you can see, grass sometimes grows between the stones since these narrow streets don't see much vehicular traffic. I'm sure that the roads have been repaired in …


Last weekend we witnessed the Battle of Vitkov Hill in Zizkov, Prague. Actually the battle took place on July 14, 1420, but each year it is reenacted at the location of the original battle, where today stands a monument to this victory.

The battle was between the followers of Jan Huss (Hussites) and the Catholic Crusaders led by Emperor Sigismund.  During the five years prior to this day, the Hussite War (see my post from July 4th in reference to this war) had raged between the Hussites and the Catholics for the lands in Bohemia and Moravia (current Czech Republic). The Hussites had been winning control over more cities in Bohemia including Prague.

During the month of June, 1420, the Crusader knights battled to regain control of Prague by holding a siege against the city. The Hussites under command of Jan Zizka held the high ground, building a fort on the peak of Vitkov Hill east of the town of Prague. On July 14th the Crusaders, with an army numbering in the thousands, tried to take …


We moved into our new apartment recently and are now in the process of getting settled. We needed to add some furniture since a single woman previously lived in it. Last week we made the trip to our local Ikea store to purchase the articles.

We spent 42,799 korunas on our four hour shopping trip that day. How many of you ever spent that much in one store? Of course,  I should mention that when this was converted to US dollars, it was only $1870.  That doesn't sound like so much since we had to purchase two wardrobes and two recliner chairs plus other smaller pieces of furniture.

As you can figure out, the Czech koruna isn't worth too much compared to the dollar. One dollar is equal to about 23 korunas. The easy way I figure out the cost of articles here is that 250 Kc is about the same as $10. So when we get two beers for 100 Kc, the beer only is about $2.00 each in a pub. Not bad at all.

Since korunas aren't worth much, there is no coin worth less than a koruna - so no ce…