Cultural City of Riga

“Riga..? Where is it..? ”  that is the first reaction of my coworkers, when I said I was planning a visit to this city. Riga is not a popular tourist destination, at least for the people of Asia. But, not famous does not mean not beautiful. City on the banks of the Daugava River is an important city, because it has a very active trading port since the Middle Ages.

Small Modern Harbor

Latvia is a unique country, because it had changed three rulers: Germany, the Kingdom of Sweden, and the Soviet Union, before finally free to be the state itself. The capital city, Riga, into a city with considerable industrial progress, especially as the port becomes an important place for the traffic of goods between the Baltic states and Europe. Riga residents generally use two languages, namely Russia and Latvia, but many young people who master the English language.

I went with two friends. We departed from Orebro, Sweden, towards Stockholm. Ship departs from Stockholm late afternoon and will arrive in the port of Riga at 9 am the next morning. We can enjoy the islands around Stockholm are skipped ship. At night, we were able to enjoy live music in the bar.

Promptly at 9 am, the ship docked at the Port of Riga. The wind and the scorching heat of the sun directly welcomed the four of us. When it was summer and temperatures approaching 30 degrees Celsius. Because I’m used to the hot summer temperatures tend Swedish cool and cold, summer heat that actually makes me kind of shocked.

Small town many years been a territory of the Kingdom of Sweden and later became part of the Soviet Union, it looks modern. Around the harbor is an office area with some towering buildings. There is a bridge connecting Riga region are separated by the River Daugava.

The streets were originally plated asphalt, now replaced with paving blocks. Tall buildings and modern now transformed into old houses walled, and only two floors high. A distance of several hundred meters away, there are offices and industrial center. It only takes 10 minutes to cross the passage of time.

Faces on the Wall

Along the way the old town, a lot of buildings with architectural art nouvaeu (commonly referred to jugendstill which means youth style, a flow of the art world that affect architecture). Marked with forms inspired from flowers or plants, in the form motif snaking or spiral-tendrils on a pole or building decoration. The number of old buildings make this city received the title of world heritage by UNESCO. Even old buildings in this area are well maintained.

Riga city hall is one of the buildings with architectural jugendstill. Which makes it unique is the presence of diverse human face carved on the walls. I imagine, might be intimidating if walking in the area in the afternoon or evening foggy. Fog can effect the faces are moving

Old Town Churches

Entering the old city area, we can walk freely without trepidation, because motorized vehicles are not allowed to enter this area. Cafes and souvenir shops occupy old buildings. So interestingly, I got stopped many times to take photos or simply looked inside. From the map, I saw there were dozens of pictures of the church in the old town area. Many churches could be caused by a number of people from various countries who arrive in this port city.

Our first stop is the Church of St. James. This is the only Catholic church were left standing after Riga was under the rule of the Soviet Union. Some churches converted to the Lutheran church, when Riga became part of Sweden. Others become Orthodox Catholic Church, when it became part of the Soviet Union.

I immediately saw the table displaying a variety of cards that contains a set of saints and various prayers in the back of the card. All the prayers in the card is written in Russian. There seller rosary beside the card tables. Church elongated space looks a bit congested because of filled with tourists.

Out of St. James, our next destination was Riga Dom cathedral. The cathedral church is a Lutheran church, which was built around the 13th century. Riga Dom is the largest church in the Baltic states, the church building is circular and roofed dome has experienced an improvement in their life history. Although built in different centuries of the Church of St. James, the main building of the church is using the same raw material, red brick. This makes the churches in Riga looks uniform. Just by walking a few meters, has four churches I visited.

Lured by Amber Stone

In the summer the open market can be found along the streets of the old town. The goods are sold in the form of knit gloves and various cooking utensils made of wood. Apple wood, wood ash and cedar wood is made into a variety of equipment, such as spoon, spoon of sugar, and a jar of herbs. The shape is nice and light.

A few tablespoons of sugar and coffee I buy for souvenirs. I was served by the son of the owner of the kiosk, with fluent English. With agile, he explained, of any wood furniture was made. According to him, the equipment can be durable wood. Because, more often washed, further strengthen the timber.

There are also a few vendors selling matrioska, Russian dolls is said to bring good luck. Seller matrioska and gloves on average mothers who are old. Although not speak English, they are friendly and greet the fans in Russian.

One item that is dominant in the market of the old city is amber jewelry. Orange red rock is a rock taken from the Baltic Sea. Usually tied with the silver pendant, or a few small amber stones strung into a bracelet. This jewelry to my attention because it is unique. Not just the type of stone, but also the shape of the pendant.

I saw the shape of a frog pendant that can be swayed, like a hand puppet and twin fish. Ulle warned me to be careful when choosing jewelry amber, because there are sellers who mix it with similar colored glass. Not only sellers in the street, but also in the gift shop that looks more luxurious. After a long pick, I finally decided to buy two pendants, frog hand puppets and twin fish. Both are decorated with amber tied with silver.

Frankly, language becomes an obstacle to make transactions on the open market. Some tourists bargaining in the old way, write down the desired price on a piece of paper, then repaid by the seller to write down the price he gave

Ukraine Food Tasting

While down the road along the Daugava River, we reached the central market Riga, Centralirgus. From a distance, the shape of the market building was a bit odd, has a ceiling high enough. I missed surprise when my friend explained that the market occupies a former airplane hangar.

Here are sold fresh fruit and vegetables sold on a wooden table. Tea, coffee, and pastries in one block; clothing and accessories, even in the other blocks. Market atmosphere similar to the atmosphere of a wholesale market in Jakarta. Only, the market here is not muddy. I buy an ounce of biscuits and drinks named latsvi, fermented oat using baker’s yeast.

The sun was higher, the air is hotter, and we started to feel hungry. We found a pizza restaurant on the roadside. The place is quite large and crowded. It turns out, not just pizza that is served here. There are a variety of typical food of Eastern Europe, such as alias pelmeny fried dumplings (typical food Ukraine) and borscht (beet soup cold with sour cream).

I ordered a serving of borscht and fries. A bowl of fresh and chilled borscht feels very creamy, suitable eaten while hot air like this.

Important Notes:

  1. Riga is not too big, you can walk to enjoy the beauty of the city. Can also get around the city by bike. In some parts of the city, there are many bike rental places. You just put a coin in the machine at the rental facility. Once completed, you are free to return at a bike rental place anywhere.
  2. Riga also has some public transportation, such as trams, buses, and subways. Get tickets for trams and buses, complete with a map of the track at various kiosks throughout Riga, or at the Riga Central Station which is located not far from the main market. One-way ticket is 0.40 lats.
  3. The cost of a three star hotel in Riga ranging from $ 30
  4. Even if already a member of the European Union, Latvia retains its own currency, the lats
  5. The price of food is cheap. You just spent 10 lats for serving lunch.
  6. Jewelry amber you can buy at prices starting at 10 lats. Provide cash in an amount sufficient, because it is rather difficult to find stores that accept credit cards





This entry was posted in Latvia.

The Exotic Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city in Brazil after Sao Paulo, famous for its beautiful beaches. Communities is also famous likes to party and dance. The town is in my mind, offers excitement and appeal is endless.

Visit Peak of the Mountain Called Sugarloaf
Rio de Janeiro means River in January. This name was given by the Portuguese voyagers when first discovered the Guanabara Bay in 1502. In the bay, too, he found a granite hill 395 meters high, which has now become one of the major tourist destinations in Rio. Because of its shape resembles rock candy, the hill called Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf).

To reach the summit of Sugarloaf, there is a cable car that can accommodate up to 75 passengers. By paying the ticket around 22 US dollars per person, we can see a 360-degree view of Rio. When the cable car uphill, view of the harbor at the foot of Sugarloaf began to appear. Sailboats decorate the bay, gardens beautiful city gives coolness between buildings skyscrapers lined up neatly adorn the sides of the coast and the foothills.

After five minutes, we arrive at the first stop, Morro de Açúcar. This stone hill 220 meters high. From this hill we can see the towering Sugarloaf. From a close distance, it was clear to us why the rock is so famous granite. This hill is formed of a granite stone intact. It is amazing to see the boulder as big and as high as that!

Our next cable car ride to the summit of Sugarloaf. From there we can see the famous beaches. On the southeast side, the white sands of Copacabana beach stretching along 4.5 km, followed by Coastal Ipanema and Leblon Beach.

In the north, we can see the whole face of the Guanabara Bay. It contained dozens of small islands that adorn the blue waters of the bay and the Niteroi Bridge which divides two Guanabara Bay along the 100 km. This bridge is a connecting door between Rio and Niteroi. While in the west, the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon separates the mountainous and coastal areas.

To the Top of Corcovado
Corcovado mountain is the highest mountain peak in Rio. To reach the top, there are two alternatives. First, take a taxi, bus or private vehicles. Secondly, with the antique train ride from Station Corcovado.

Our choice fell on the historic antique wagon. Construction and railway station started in 1884 as a means of transportation for the workers during the construction of a statue of Christ the Redeemer and also as a means of transporting various building materials.

Provided four trains, each of which has two carriages. Each train can accommodate up to 360 passengers. We do not have to wait too long, because the departure is done every 30 minutes. The journey to the top of Corcovado within 3.8 km from the station begins to pass through the housing population, followed by the thick foliage of the Tijuca Forest.

After a 20 minute drive, we arrived at the station. To reach the statue of Christ the Redeemer, we had to climb 225 stairs. Throughout the journey through the rungs, there are several gift shop and cafeteria. We also had lunch while enjoying the green landscape Tijuca Forest.

At the top, we can see the statue of Christ de Redeemer stands firmly as high as 38 meters. This statue looked far into the future, with arms wide open, as if he were to bless and protect Rio. We can also see the whole face of the city, the green of the Tijuca Forest, a beautiful lagoon in the city center, beaches with white sand seductive, buildings skyscrapers crowding the city center, up to dozens of favelas, slums typical Rio

Urban Forest Tijuca
We explored the Tijuca Forest, after looking at it from a distance. Tijuca forest is a forest in the middle of the largest city in the world. Therefore, this forest is called urban forest. And an area of 32 km² of forest, the forest home of hundreds of species of flora and fauna are protected. We went with some other tourists towards Tijuca with open-topped Jeep. In just 15 minutes, we arrived at the gate of the forest.

Tijuca Forest’s history began in the mid-19th century. At that time, Rio has a shortage of water resources, as a result of the expansion of coffee plantations. The ruler of that time decided to carry out reforestation, as well as prohibit the construction of homes in forest areas. After making these forests as protected areas, water resource depletion problem was solved.

Foliage gives coolness and we can hear the chirping of birds and the occasional boisterous sound of monkeys playing in the trees. This forest is very clean well maintained. We took time to enjoy the beauty of the waterfall in the forest. Clear water hitting the rocks and flows through the woods.

We are also tracking through the woods, walking along a small river between towering trees. Not feel at all that we are only a few minutes away from the metropolitan bustle

Sailing to Angra dos Reis
We also visited the islands of Angra dos Reis, which means the archipelago of the kings. This region is very famous for its beautiful beaches and 365 small islands that meets the Gulf of Angra dos Reis. The distance is about 150 km from the city. After two hours of travel by tour bus, we arrived at the port city of Angra dos Reis. The harbor is full of traditional fishing boats lined up neatly along the marina. At the end of the marina, has been waiting for a traditional sailing boat ready to take us around to enjoy the beauty of the bay.

Soon after the boat set sail, frenetic music filled the air ship. The local tourists began move body to the music. For residents of Brazil, dancing is already ingrained. Along the way, they nonstop swaying and singing. Exciting!

Our cruise around the bay of Angra dos Reis takes about three hours. We were treated to a view of dozens of small islands dotted white sand beaches. We also stopped at some islands to enjoy the freshness of the sea and down the beach with soft sand.

Copacabana and Girl from Ipanema
My mind was ‘filled’ by bossa nova melody two songs which are very famous, Copacabana and Girl from Ipanema. Both are also the name of the beach in Rio. Although the songs made famous Copacabana by Barry Manillow it actually tells the story of a famous club in New York, his own club name obviously refers to the Copacabana Beach. Located in the city center, every day the place is invaded by hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world.

Atlantica on the highway side that touches the coast, built sidewalks wide enough. Every few hundred meters, there are stalls of fresh drinks and snacks. On weekends, the whole beach full of beach chairs and umbrellas for rent. It seemed the entire city ‘spilled’ on the beach!

In addition to the sidewalk, also provided a jogging track and a special lane skateboard. Citizens of Rio love sports. Every afternoon, the line was congested by people jogging and skateboarder. At the point, we also see a lot of beach volleyball court and some special post that provided the municipality to exercise the body builder for free.

Our hotel is located on the beach in contact with Ipanema Beach, the beach that became the central gathering of young people. To get to Ipanema, we stayed on foot. Ipanema beach developed into a tourist area after Copacabana beach, so the hotel-his hotel looks more modern and younger.

Foods Tips:
Two blocks from the beach, there is a road that is filled with a variety of restaurants, stores, and shopping malls. At lunch time we are waiting for. There are two types of places to eat in Brazil. The first, restaurant. The standard portion of the food there is quite large, it was one portion for two people is more than enough.

The second type is buffet à pesos, which means the food is weighed. The first time we found a place to eat this kind is when we stroll in one of the shopping centers in the area of Botafogo, Rio Sul Shopping, not far from Copacabana Beach. In the cafeteria area, I am interested in seeing the crowd of shoppers was weighing plate of food in front of the cashier. It was the first time I saw the payment of food in that way.

According to my husband, in Angola, he also never eaten at a restaurant like that. Angola is Portuguese-speaking African countries, because the country is also a former Portuguese colony, as well as Brazil. Perhaps, payment of food to be weighed is one of the Portuguese heritage.

Finally buffet à peso became my favorite place, because it gives us the freedom to determine the type of favorite food and the portion corresponding to the ability of the stomach respectively. In the buffet à pesos, meals are served buffet. Price per 100 grams, between 3-4 estate, not including drinks. Meanwhile, the average weight is 500 grams My plate is quite economical for the size of Rio de Janeiro

The earlier book tickets, the cheaper the price. Summer in Rio began in November through April. If you want to witness the excitement of the Rio carnival, then came in early March.

Feel free to use public transport so that more economical holiday and can interact with local residents. Unfortunately, not many people speak English. So, get ready to use the Tarzan language.Do not forget to look around the unique bikini seller here.








This entry was posted in Brazil.

Trip to Scotland Balmoral Castle

I visited Scotland, as a journey designed to celebrate my own 30th birthday. Here are some notes on my trip.

After sleeping soundly in Meldrum House with exhaustion and intake of whiskey, the next morning I woke up with a fresh body. From the window of the room, I caught sight of a green nature in the shade of mist and gray skies, as if there are Dementors (vacuum happiness creatures in the Harry Potter series).

Our main goal is to Aberdeen to visit Balmoral Castle, privately owned castle Windsor family (name of family dynasties who ruled the British Empire at this time). Queen Elizabeth II and other royal members will stay at Balmoral Castle over the summer, namely August to October. This castle is a favorite of Queen Victoria who ruled the British Empire in 1937-1901.

Balmoral Castle is located in Deeside, Aberdeenshire, which is taken almost 3 hours drive from Medrum House by car. At Balmoral Castle, visitors are not allowed into the private rooms of the family work. Visitors are only allowed to see the ballroom, where a display of miniature history of Scotland: weapons, tartan, emblem of the noble families, jewelry, until highland games. There is also shown Fashion Queen Elizabeth II using materials typical of Scotland.

After getting an explanation from the staff of the castle, I had lunch at Café Balmoral. In April, May, June and July, this cafe provides a full menu, among them the meat broth typical Castle Balmoral which can be enjoyed with warm bread, baked potatoes, venison burger (burger venison), also salmon salad (in the area of Deeside this flowing River Dee which is famous for salmon fishing when the spring). Assorted sandwiches are also available in the refrigerator.
Flour fan base, I chose lunch with a piece of large-sized scones (which turned out to be hard) with strawberry jam. It is not worth as lunch. But, when else would I get to enjoy the scones at Balmoral Castle, is not it?

After dinner, we went to Crathie Parish Church, the church where the usual royal family worships on Sunday morning, which can be taken just a few minutes by car from Balmoral Castle. The church is only a tiny, gray with a triangular roof peaked, standing majestically in the shade of the pine tree trunked slim.

On either side of the narrow paved road that leads right to the door of the church, grow yellow daffodils (because often see the daffodils, I so fell in love with flowers often become the object of painting the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh’s). Among the graceful daffodils was placed garden chairs made of wood with the words: “May all who sit here be content and happy”.

The church was actually an ordinary village church, but are chosen by Queen Victoria who loved Balmoral to worship at once mingle with commoners. Queen Victoria (bust chest placed in one corner of two walls meeting in front of church) greatly contributed to this church, including a well-preserved is a velvet pouch from people donating.

Next, I went to Royal Lochnagar, a small whiskey-making factory, founded by John Begg in 1845. The name is derived from the name Lochnagar Lochnagar Mountain, located in the region. While the name Royal added after distillation place visited Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, on 12 September 1848. At the end of the visit, the Queen turned out like whiskey made from one type of malt production Mr. Begg, so distillation is chosen to be one of the suppliers of scotch for the royal family.

During April to October, this place receives visitors who want to see the process of making whiskey, although visitors are strictly prohibited photographing activity within the factory. In addition, the phone must be turned off when you sign into a distillation, because it was feared the signals would interfere with sophisticated equipment and cause a fire.

Whiskey distillation is one part of the agricultural community tradition since ancient times as a way to earn money. Farmers in Deeside average have a private whiskey distillation. This area is remote, but the taste of whiskey produced from this popular area is nice and in demand all over Scotland. Making new whiskey legally regulated in 1780.

In this place, we can make whiskey testing and learning more from experts. Learn how to recognize the aroma of whiskey, liquid consistency and taste of whiskey. In addition, I also found out that drinking whiskey can be coupled with a bit of water to reduce the ‘strength’, without reducing pleasures.