Canals of Venice

After the train, we stepped out of the station and was welcomed by the grand canal and a miraculous view of the city. It was dusk and the sky was magnificent. I had traveled to Venice before and I got the same amazed feeling the second time as I looked around. The canals and alleys continued to amaze me as we walked around for three days and here are some of the best shots of the water butting up against the buildings, while life continues, including some construction workers.

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October Holiday… Getting to Venice

Rome by flight and 2 hours later, Venice by train… that is how our Italy holiday with Dutch started. We showed up in the city of canals in the dark, eventually found our Air BnB after some tech difficulty, and called it a night after about 12 hours of travel. Of course we had to get some pizza first, but after a pie and calzone, we all headed to bed to prepare our big first day.

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Latvian Countryside with Dutch

We are so happy to have Dutch visiting us for two weeks. The very day he got here, we jumped in the car and headed to a cabin for the weekend. It was just perfect. The fall crisp air was wonderful, the castle in Cesis was magnificent, as always, and the cabin was great (except for the 972 black flies in the house.) Over the weekend visited an outdoor art shop, had lunch at our favorite place in Cesis, and walked around the town. Then we headed back, started a fire, cooked dinner and hunkered in. We spent the daylight hours by the lake waiting for the hot tub to heat up. I don’t think it ever got “hot” but Cody and Dutch braved the cold air and sat outside under the stars for a couple of hours. It was a great weekend!

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First Outing on Rhodes

After Athens we headed to Rhodes, a Greek island close to Turkey. We arrived to our hotel, The Ixian Grand, after a short taxi drive and discovered that it was not only beautiful, but right on the water with spectacular views, especially at sunset. You could look right across the water and see Turkey.

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For our many days there we spent time going between laying by the pool with books in our hands and heading out on day excursions. Cody and I rented bicycles and also did a few afternoons exploring the local town 5 minutes away. It was completely relaxing and just what we all needed to get our minds off of the real world.

One of the first day trips we took was to the larger city of Rodos. It was a hot day, but it was wonderful to walk around the old fortress walkways and see the castles and hidden secrets of this ancient stronghold. The city is a must see and has lots to offer in terms of sightseeing. We loved just exploring by foot and seeing where alleyways would take us. It is really amazing the history that Europe has compared to the US and it is hard to think how new our country is in the grand scheme of things.

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Athens Greece with Cathy and Rick


A few days after Cathy and Rick arrived we headed to Athens to start our Greek adventure. We stayed at a great AirBnB in a great location. The home was in walking distance of great local food, markets, Mexican food and the Parthenon. Well, I guess the last is debatable, but yes, we walked everywhere, including many km up and down hills to the Parthenon. Good thing we all had some sturdy walking shoes, which came in handy not only for comfort but to dodge the rubbish all over the street.

The first day out we explored the city and found some great little shops and got our bearings. It was fun to just walk and explore the city while catching up and chatting. We were shocked how dirty and run down the city was, but then you have to remember that in addition to the financial crisis, the city is freakin’ ancient.


The next day we did it up big, starting with a delicious breakfast of burritos and margaritas. Then to an antiques market and a snack of halloumi and tzatziki. Our table was on the roof overlooking an archaeological site and it was amazing to see the process of excavation, although no one was working at the time, probably due to the crazy heat. IMG_2283 IMG_2291 IMG_2292 IMG_2294

Next, we headed to the Parthenon through the park and up the hill. It was a long way, but completely worth it as I have never seen something so epic before. It rivaled Anchor Wat but with the dry landscape, it seemed so grand where in Cambodia, the jungle makes it seem cozy and secretive. It was really spectacular and I am so appreciative that I got to see Athens up close and in person. IMG_2295 IMG_2298 IMG_2301 IMG_2305 IMG_2307 IMG_2314 IMG_2323 IMG_2331 IMG_2333 IMG_2340 IMG_2341 IMG_2342

Visitors Galore

One of my closest friends from high school came to visit us recently. Sam and I have been long, long friends and it has been great seeing him in Riga. Unfortunately he was here for the last two weeks of school so it was a really busy time for us. We got to take him around a bit and he has been trying to see the sights on his own.

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His visit has also overlapped with Cody’s parents. It has been 7 years in the making getting them to our house but finally the time was right and it has been just awesome. They arrived the day after school ended and it has been non-stop fun since picking them up from the airport. We have been eating and drinking ourselves all over Riga, playing games, taking some road trips and all the while, trying to stay out of the rain they brought from Oregon.
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Tomorrow we are off to Greece, but Latvia has been a great first stop. Yesterday we traveled to Cesis to visit the castle and then headed up to the Valmiermuiza brewery. The country side is beautiful right now and we took advantage of the slight break in rain. After that we headed downtown to Cody’s favorite restaurant, Folkklubs Ala, for dinner and some drinks and then headed back with friends to play Saboteur, a card game we picked up here. It really has been a wonderful start to the summer!2015-06-22 14.41.32 2015-06-22 14.39.06

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Riga Craft Fair

Last weekend Cody and I headed for the Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum to spend some time in nature and see some handicrafts made by locals. I had never been to the museum but it is in a huge park situated right next to a lake. The walk through the dust and the forrest with crafts every we looked reminded me a bit of the Oregon Country Fair. Actually, the more time we spend in Latvia, the more we realize that Latvia is very similar to Oregon. There were wood crafts, weaving, wicker work, ceramics and much, much more. We found a place to get some food and found our favorite local brewery, Labietes. With our beers and shashlik, we sat by the lake and hung out in the sunshine. We bought some gifts for friends and family back home and headed out after a few hours there. It was truly a Latvian experience.

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