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Showing posts from February, 2020

Riga's White House

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The president of the country of Latvia lives about three blocks from our house in a castle that doesn't look anything like the US White House. His house is called Riga Castle or RÄ«gas pils in Latvian. The castle is located on Pils Iela - Castle Street which runs past our street.



The Riga Castle is a bit older than the White House in Washington. In 1515, the current castle was finished being built. It had another part added to it in 1641. The previous castle was burned down in the late 1400s. The castle today also holds a museum of Latvian history.


Riga has been governed by several countries during these centuries: including the Lithuanians, Poles, Swedes, Russians and Latvians while this castle stood. It has seen many changes as the rulers changed from one country to the next.


The president of Latvia has lived in the castle since 1922. Of course, during the Soviet era, the government administration was located here, but there was no president then. When independence returned to La…

Where is Riga?

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I've had a couple people ask me where in the world are you now? So I thought I'd get down to basics this week and show you a bit about the city of Riga.


Riga is the capital of the country of Latvia - one of the three Baltic countries. It's in between the other two Baltic States of Estonia and Lithuania, all of which border Russia.

To the west of Latvia is the Baltic Sea which is located between the Baltic States, Sweden and Finland. The Daugava River (which is a block from our flat) empties into the Gulf of Riga and out into the Baltic Sea. As a result, Riga's port is very important to the economy of the country of Latvia.


The history of Riga goes back to the early Middle Ages. The Vikings traded with the people who lived along the Daugava River, establishing the first village on the site of Riga today.


When we first visited Riga, we were amazed by the number of large, old churches that we saw. Notice all of the steeples in the top picture. Riga was one of the first c…

New Place, New Space

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Now that we're pretty well settled in our flat in Riga, I thought I'd share a bit about our new living arrangements.

We're in a much smaller (and cozier) building this time - a house with only four flats in it. The stone house was built in 1800s so has very thick walls. Hopefully, that will keep out the heat in the summer.

As you can see by the picture on the left, our flat actually has two floors. The upper floor has our bedroom, bathroom and family room, so we have lots more space than any of our other apartments in Europe. We have lots of room for guests (hint).


The lower level has the living room, office, kitchen and another bathroom. It's actually the closest to a US apartment that we've had to date. We have a dishwasher and garbage disposal in the kitchen. The laundry area in the basement has a washer and a DRYER!! First time in years that I have some of these luxuries.



During the last week, I have found a couple quirky things about the kitchen. One of them i…

Tales of a Train Ride

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Our busy week is over. We're living in Riga, Latvia. I won't say settled, but we're at least in our apartment. Getting here with our belongings was quite a trip, however.

Pictured on the left is the huge stack of luggage that we moved from our St. Petersburg flat to our new one in Riga.

We had decided a month ago that we were going to move on the train this time instead of a plane. We surmised the cost for checked luggage for the airlines was so high that I did research on the cost of luggage on the Russian trains. Their website said that they would allow 200 kg (which is 440 lbs.) per person, so I thought that was fantastic. I even called them - and found someone to speak English - who said yes that was the case, but extra charges may occur.

We booked our train tickets a couple weeks ago. I even went down to the train station and asked about help loading all our luggage onto the train. I was assured there would be someone to help us and even met with the porter who agree…