Where am I?

Created this blog to document my travels, experiences & thoughts thru Central & South America but hell plan to blog my travels to where ever. Goofy harmless Free Spirit hoping to spend most of my time with locals & enjoy the world! So hang on as I travel, drink cervezas, raise a little hell, maybe piss off a few people & hopefully not give Canadians a bad reputation! Of course don't do these things on purpose but while having a good time well "Shit Happens"!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

So glad got a flight to Riga, Latvia from Istanbul to visit my friend Arta cuz it was Awesome!!! Oct 2012

Met some cool Latvians in Vancouver as hosted 2 & became friends with the other! They are such great people and what they told me about Latvia & Riga got me really interested in seeing the country! So one of the places had to visit was a trip to Latvia! So got a cheap flt to Riga from Istanbul to get there before it got too cold! But found out that it didn't matter how cold Latvia got that the warm hospitality and kindness of the people more than made up for the chilly weather! But wtf I grew up in Deadmonton, Canada where it gets colder than Latvia probably but without as much snow!The highlight of my trip to Latvia was meeting up with Arta, a real sweet chick, who I got to know & hang out with in Vancouver when she was there on a year working visa in Canada! She has a crazy (bad jokes) sense of humor and laughs all the time! So we get along really great but missed seeing her before she left Canada as I was on a road trip across Canada in the fall 2010! So it was sooooooo cool to meet up again, hang out and become really good close friends! She also let me stay at her family's home as she liiving there while getting settling back in Latvia! So glad that she seems to be settling back quite well into the Latvian lifestyle but it would be easy! So she got a good challenging job but mind u she is quite intelligent so that's not surprising.

What I also appreciate is she took time out of her busy weekend to show me around Riga & Latvia so can't thank her and her family enough. So took some nice pictures of Latvia (at least I think they are). So I've posted them here! Enjoy!!!

Wanted to get to Latvia to visit my Latvian friend Arta who I met when she was in Vancouver, Canada on a 1 year working holiday visa! I was going to come back to Istanbul after visiting Eastern Europe so wanted to fly north and work my way back south by bus or at least overland thru the remaining Eastern European countries I hadn’t seen! So got a cheap 1 way ticket to Riga which meant staying overnight in Budapest!

So left Istanbul on a Thur so would make it to Riga on a Fri! Then I’d be able to hang out with Arta on the weekend when she didn’t have to work! So she sent me a msg to invite me to stay with her & her family which was cool! She was living with her family until she got settled back into the Latvian lifestyle as she just recently got a job after returning to Latvia!

I arrived on a Fri afternoon and made my way downtown in Riga as she would meet me there! It was kind of cool & windy that day but it was all good but wtf didn’t matter even if I waited outside! Cuz it was so awesome to see her again as it had been over a year since I saw her the last time! I had been doing a road trip across Canada when she left Canada so didn’t get a chance to really say a proper goodbye!

When got into Riga I had to exchange my Euros for Latvian Lat (LVL). Latvia had set 2010 as a new target date for implementing the Euro, but with the global economic crisis, which has hit Latvia hard, it is clear they will not reach this target. Unofficially 2012 is already being discussed as a new target. Latvian Lats are used. Latvia plans to join the Eurozone in 2014.

Arta had given me direction on which bus to catch from the airport to downtown! So I got downtown to this main Shopping Mall and the big clock where she suggested we meet!
So after we met we walked around a bit of Old Riga as we went for a bite to eat & a drink! Then she showed me some of Old Riga but couldn’t see much as I was carrying my back pack! So Arta suggested we come back the next day to see more!

Arta spends a lot of time with her boyfriend who she’s known for a while! Then she left on a 1 year work visa to Canada! But they kept in touch and he came to visit her around New Years! Then also again they met in Mexico for a vacation! I never had an opportunity to meet him in Vancouver cuz probably they wanted to spend time alone which was cool! Then when I came to Riga he was busy working as his company was shutting down and he had a lot of finalizing to do for the company! But I did get to meet him the night before I left Riga! Artis is a real nice guy a little quiet but that’s cool! It’s a coincidence as his name is Artis and her name is Arta! They get along great and make an awesome couple! So hoping that it all works out for them as really wish all the best for the both of them!

Arta is not a big partier or drinker so doesn’t spend a lot of time exploring the Riga night life! But I didn’t mind cuz when I travel I can do anything (yeah I do fall into the night life scene a bit but wtf) so yeah can take it or leave it! The main thing I do is meet cool interesting people regardless of their interest, nationality, gender, age or education! It’s about meeting people! So yeah can always find things to talk about with Arta and her family! We got to her home in the dark but I was really impressed with the quiet nature neighborhood and how nice their house is as wasn’t expecting it! Met Arta’s Dad Jan?? (think is his name) is a real nice guy who I think is cool & easy to talk with! But so is his girl friend Elina ?? (not really sure of her name)! Arta’s Dad has a good sense of humor too so know where Arta gets her’s from! Arta’s Dad is partner in a Management Consulting company so he does pretty good career wise but sure that with the turmoils that’s happened in the past 20 years that he’s worked hard! Arta’s Dad’s GF works for Arta’s Dad and is a computer expert & works from home! Arta’s Mom and Dad are divorced and though didn’t ask too much she lives by herself fairly close to her Dad’s home! I’m sorry that I didn’t get a chance to meet her! But maybe it’s just as well as think she doesn’t speak English and my Latvian from Latvian 101 isn’t that great ha ha!

Arta’s Dad’s home is fairly impressive but don’t think he built to show off what he could afford like some people! He’s a real down to earth family guy who wants his entire family to live together! I guess when the kids were growing up they lived in an apartment like most Latvians! Of course Arta lived a few years in this other city where she could be treated for her ashma! Then she lived with her grandparents for a while I believe! So she never really lived with her entire family for a very long time! Arta’s younger brother Karlas who is going to university said he had hardly lived with Arta! Arta’s older sister Krista met a Portuguese guy while traveling! They got married and had a baby boy and moved to Portugal. Arta’s Dad built a fairly big house with 5 bedrooms on 3 levels and basement! It was so his family and his GF;s family could all live there! They all have their own bedrooms plus her Dad has an office on the 3rd level (by his bedroom ) so his GF could work from home even tho he has an office in downtown Riga! So Arta’s Dad’s GF has a daughter who is studying law in London so didn’t meet her! She also has a teen age son David who I hardly saw around as he usually stayed in his room playing video games!

I kind of feel sorry for Arta's mother tho I didn't meet her! I guess it just seems she lives by herself in an apartment while all the other family members live together in a big house! I don't think it's on purpose cuz Arta's Dad doesn't seem to be the type to make anyone feel bad as they all live in a big house and leave his ex wife in an apartment so she'd feel bad! I guess he got to the position in life where he had his own Management company so he could afford to finally build a home! I guess prior to that they lived in an apartment like most people in Latvia! I remember Arta's brother Karlis saying that since Arta returned from her working holiday in Canada that she's been living with her family in the house until she gets on her feet to maybe move out with her boyfriend! So this past year had been the longest time he's lived with her! Cuz Arta lived in a different town as she had asthma and had to get treated and go to school! Then she had lived with her grand parents for a while due to maybe living space with her parents! Arta's sister Krista has a room in her Dad's home but she is married to a Portuguese guy and lives with him and her son in Portugal! Then Arta's Dad's GF's daughter lives in London studying law so there's also her room vacant in their house! Also Arta's Dad's GF's son lives in the house with them but he's younger and spends all his time in his bedroom playing video games or something!

They’re house besides having 5 bedrooms on 3 levels also has a sort of basement which opens up to the yard on this bottom floor! When I was there they had someone come over to lead them in yoga on Sat morning! I think Arta, her father and his GF participated In the yoga for somethink like 2 hrs or so! Their bottom floor also has a small indoor pool, a sauna and hot tub! But I never saw anyone use any of them probably cuz it was sort of cool outside even tho they’re all indoors! I don’t usually get impressed with homes but I was with there’s! Probably cuz I never expected a nice place like theirs in Latvia!! Mainly because Valdis my other Latvian friend always told me there were a lot of friends of his trying to find jobs! But those are young people in their early 20’s and not people more established like Arta’s father! I figure that Arta will be successful in her career path one day too seeing how much she likes her job & how conscientious she is about it! So guess she’s a different than most people I know as she has a good job, enjoys work and doesn’t party a lot! Yeah have to say that’s why I probably admire her!

So yeah Arta’s Dad liked watching hockey as Riga has a team in the Kontinental Hockey League! This league plays good hockey as it is a professional league which has a few Russian teams and players of course! I believe the league is just a step down from the NHL in North America! Earlier this fall the league experienced a disaster as one of the team was in a terrible plane crash which destroyed the entire team! It was funny as Arta’s Dad was watching a game between the Riga Dymanos and the Moscow Dynamos!

Then on Sat after Arta cooked me breakfast she suggested we go downtown and see Riga during the day! It’s funny cuz we caught a bus to go downtown but didn’t pay much attention to the bus number! So we caught the wrong bus and ended up having to get off down by the ports where all the ships unloaded their shipments! Then we had to walk to catch the bus we were suppose to catch! So when we were walking to catch the original bus we were to catch! Well we went behind this old building and had a smoke of 420! I had brought a small amount of 420 with me (yeah I know people will freak out that I did it but shit man I only brought a small amount to share with my cool friend Arta!). We only probably had 1 puff but the stuff was so wicked that we both got really wasted on this one toke! Arta at first said I don’t feel anything so we walked to the bus stop and sat down! Well the next thing I know we were just talking when we both got the laughs about nothing! Wow we were both pretty wasted and took the bus into town! Well it was so funny got we both got the munchies and Arta had to show me where the best hot dogs were in Riga! The thing about these hot dogs that I like was the buns were heated in a sort of oven and tasted so good or maybe I was just wasted or both lol! Anyway we walked around Old Town taking pictures! We also went to the Market place which is a happening place on a Sat afternoon! But when we were down there some guy who was obviously drunk came up to talk! So he came up and hugged me but Arta thought he was trying to pick pocket me or something! So she wanted to get away from him so we kind of hurried away from the Market! So we wandered around the New City the rest of the afternoon and made our way back to Arta’s place! But must say we really had an awesome day hanging out doing a bit of 420! It brought back memories of when we got together in Vancouver and had 420 and chilled at the beach! So yeah really enjoyed hanging out with Arta and enjoying her company!

I hope people don't think that Arta's a big stoner like me cuz that’s simply not the case! She just likes to chill and enjoy herself ! Arta is an awesome chick who is not a big partier but likes to just chill and do her own thing! I don’t know how we became friends as we definitely wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t hosted her 2 Latvian friends Valdis and Eva! Actually I don’t have a lot in common with Valdis and Eva either except maybe traveling! But they’re an awesome couple and good couch surfing friends! I’ve found out by being Arta’s friend that friendship isn’t always about having a lot in common all the time! I think I enjoy her company a lot as she liked to tell bad jokes so like to laugh lol! Also during her stay in Vancouver I went traveling for 6 months ! Then when I came back she wasn’t living with Valdis and Eva but was living on her own plus had lived with some other people too! I’m not fully sure but think she met a couple of people I know (Ian and Maxx who are both crazy but nice) too thru her good Latvian friend Eeva! So not sure but think they introduced her to trying the great ?? Canadian pastime for most of doing 420! So of course I’m a big fan of 420 as got my doctor to sign a form so now legal to purchase 420 & smoke it for medicinal purposes! We decided to say that I had a problem with depression which 420 helps me handle and function! I think that 420 is not a downer or something that puts a person in an aggressive or bad space! In fact some people get paranoid or sleepy after doing it! But it’s the opposite for me as I get a bit hyper, talk a lot and want to go and do something outdoors which I normally do! Another thing I like to do after doing 420 is listen to music and especially dance! So I have a couple of favorite places in Vancouver that I like to go to chill and dance! Not saying it does that for all people as it affects everyone differently! Alcohol on the other hand gets me sleepy and if I drink enough makes me vomit! Not to say I don’t drink at all but do it in moderation as I do 420! Cuz to me 420 is a social think as I only do it with someone as maybe only don’t it about 3 or 4 times by myself even though some may not believe it! I have a couple of friends that I like to do 420 listen to music and go dancing! I guess I kind of gravitate to people who chill, do a bit of 420 and not drink a lot of alcohol to get really drunk! Not that I’m opposed to drinking as do end up getting a bit drunk at times! But I like to do 420 and go for a bike ride in a park or to the beach! So yeah I have friends who also like to do the same as me! I found out Arta (though not a big indulger like me) enjoyed chilling doing a bit and enjoying herself! So we did it a couple times in Vancouver and thoroughly enjoyed our selves as we went to a beach and chilled! So guess that was one thing we had in common! But guess we also like to talk about our experiences traveling and seeing new places! Arta is quite intelligent, classy and likes to read a lot! She told me when she was growing up she had bad ashma so she had to go to a school in a town where her ashma could be treated! It was probably a bit tramatic for a young person but in a way it probably helped to become independent and handle stress in life! So I admire her for that! She told me she spent a lot of time reading books & she could read an entire book in a couple hours! She may not remember everything about the book in a few days but it was probably useful in her studies which is probably why she graduated with a masters and scored a challenging fulfilling job in Riga!

On the Sun Arta used her Dad’s car and Arta, her brother Karlis and myself went to this city by the sea! She showed me the beautiful old houses in the city! which it seemed a lot of Russians buy and fix up! The houses are massive and are painted some odd colors! We went for a walk by the sea and also went for a bite to eat at this city! It was a real pleasant day and it was so cool to spend some time with Karlis even if he’s quite quiet! But guess next to me anyone is quiet as I don’t give most people a chance to talk!!!

Then the Monday Arta had to work so I stayed in bed late then spent my time blogging! Also researching where and how I was going to head to Estonia and wherever! I then wanted to make some chilli for the family as sort of a repayment for all their hospitality and kindness! What was really cool was that Arta’s boyfriend Artis came over to eat some dinner! Artis is a real nice guy and is easy to talk with even if he’s also kind of quiet! Shit doesn’t any Latvians talk or does a crazy Canadian have to do all the talking lol!

Then the next day had decided to leave Riga and Latvia as didn’t want to overstay my welcome! So Arta’s Dad had a meeting in this city by the Estonian border so he said he’d give me a ride there which was cool! So woke up at 6 am as Arta’s Dad had to be at this city for a meeting at 9 am! I must say I thoroughly enjoyed myself staying with Arta and her family in their home! I didn’t do a lot of drinking or seeing much night life which was OK with me! Cuz hell get more than enough opportunities to do that in other cities or countries! As far as I’m concerned I had a far better time in Riga than I do in places that most people say is a great fun city – like Barcelona or Amsterdam! But guess it all depends who u’r hanging out with cuz to me it’s the people u meet traveling that make my trip so awesome! I just hope that I can return to Riga one day to meet Arta, her boyfriend and her family again one day!

I just hope that one day we can get together to enjoy each other’s company again in the future!
Can't say enough about Arta & her family as they've hosted an Idiot like me at their beautiful home in Riga, Latvia! The Latvian hospitality has been awesome & warm enough to make up for the cool weather, plus enjoyed hanging out with Arta again as she’s a real sweetheart! Been traveling fairly quickly as in a week been to Amsterdam, Istanbul, Budapest & Riga cuz wanted to get to the Baltic countries before it gets too cold! But it’s been well worth it so If u ever get a chance to check out Riga, do it!!!!

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