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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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

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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Riga Marathon Race Weekend

Festival season started on the weekend of the Riga Marathon. I grabbed my girlfriends and we went out thrift shopping for the day. Somehow we ended up at a city park with music, food, crafts and beer. The weather has finally gotten warm and it was one of the first sunny warmish days. At the festival we decided we had to pick up some flower headbands for the race and Mikyla and Rebecca had to try them out.

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Race morning stated with rain and clouds but Cody and I laced up the trainers and headed out to meet some friends. I was doing the 5K with some friends and Cody did the 10K. I had wanted to run the 10 with Cody, but I have been dealing with an annoying knee injury so I didn’t want to push it. I saw Cody off and then headed over to try to see him on the bridge. Instead of seeing Cody, I saw a students sister instead! IMG_2025 IMG_2026 IMG_2027 IMG_2028

The ladies and I met for our race start, pulled up our hoods and headed out. One of the friends I was running with was a race virgin and did great. I ran/walked with her and it was so much fun. Along the race route there were some bands, choirs and people cheering us on. I loved the high-fives from the ladies in the traditional Latvian dresses. It was really uplifting at the end of the race. 20150517_132252 IMG_2031 IMG_2032 IMG_2033 IMG_2036 IMG_2037 IMG_2038

At the end of the race we decided to get dry in our favorite pub, Folkklubs Ala. Our friends met us there and we ordered the party platter complete with pickles, traditional garlic bread, pickled herring, smoked meats, cheese and veggies. It was perfect for a post race meal. It was a great weekend to start the summer season off. IMG_2039 IMG_2041 IMG_2042

Scotland with New Friends

So in April Cody headed out with Micah and Paul, his old high school friends, and I decided to head to Cairngorms National Park in Scotland. I was lucky enough to have three friends who also love last minute plans, so we bought tickets and a week later we were hiking and biking in the beautiful national park. Cal, Shaun and Mikyla were wonderful traveling partners and I hope that over the course of our time in Latvia, we get to do it again.

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