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Art Nouveau District of Riga

5 Reasons Why You Should Linger in Riga, Latvia

By | Baltic States, Europe, Trip | No Comments

From Tallinn, Estonia, we took a 5 hour bus ride to Riga, the historical capital of Latvia. Here’s why might be charmed into staying a few extra days in the city that’s been dubbed the “Paris of the North.”

 

1 | It’s the Cultural Hub of the Baltics.

Like Tallinn, the entire city of Riga is an UNESCO heritage site.

Like Tallinn, the entire city of Riga is an UNESCO heritage site.

Views of Riga, Latvia

You can get 360 degree views of the city from the top of the Academy of Science, €6.

It was originally a Viking settlement before being occupied by a different culture nearly every century (Germans, Poles, Swedes and Russians). Today, Gothic churches cozy up next to outdoor cafes, modern lounges, and tranquil spas.

It was originally a Viking settlement before being occupied by a different culture nearly every century (Germans, Poles, Swedes and Russians).
Today, Gothic churches cozy up next to outdoor cafes, modern lounges, and tranquil spas.

Riga, Latvia

Modern mixes with old.

 

2 | You’ll Be Amazed By The Architecture.

Riga is a cultural mutt and it shows in everything from the Dome Cathedral, it's more important church, to the Art Nouveau district.

Riga is a cultural mutt and it shows in everything from the Dome Cathedral, it’s more important church, to the Art Nouveau district.

Art Nouveau District of Riga

Riga has one of the world’s biggest and best Art Nouveau districts.It also happens to be one of my favorite art history periods, so I’m justifiably biased. #artnerd4lyfe

Art Nouveau District of Riga

The period stressed creative freedom and movement and inspiration from nature, hence the incorporation of vines. It was a reaction to the stiff, Victorian era of realism. And while these these buildings may look stoic today, Art Nouveau was innovation at its prime in its heyday.

 

3 |You’ll Be At Home If You’re A Digital Nomad

While I try to stay away from most things digital when I’m traveling, for a design consultant like myself, I like the option of lingering in an open-air cafes to catch up on work. Riga has the largest number of free WIFI spots per square km in Europe and is surprisingly one of the most and settings like these don’t hurt.

While I try to stay away from most things digital when I’m traveling, for a design consultant like myself, I like the option of lingering in an open-air cafes to catch up on work. Riga has the largest number of free WIFI spots per square km in Europe and is surprisingly one of the most and settings like these don’t hurt.

 

4| You Can Indulge Your Caviar Dreams

Food is relatively cheap, compared to other EU countries.

Food is good and relatively cheap, compared to other EU countries. A simple breakfast of smoked salmon in tartar sauce and lingonberries was light and awesome.

Central Market, Riga

But for the super cheap, one of the best places you can go for fresh, local goods, is the Central Market. Everything from pickled fish and baked goods to desserts and fresh berries (amazing) are located in and around 5 WWI Zeppelin hangars that have been converted into Riga’s biggest market. Photo Credit: Calvin Sun.

My favorite was the fish market in the last hangar, where I got smoked salmon (ask them to slice it) and caviar for a total of €9. Tuck that in a loaf of just-baked bread (€2) and you’ve got the lunch of a queen.

My favorite was the fish market in the last hangar, where I got smoked salmon (ask them to slice it) and caviar for a total of 9 euros. Tuck that in a loaf of just-baked bread (€2) and you’ve got the ballin’ lunch of a queen.

Riga15

McDonalds and caviar dreams

Dave from our group bought a jar of caviar from the market for €25 euros. If you’re wondering about the back story, he decided to bring it out to the club, and later on for a late night snack. #caviardreams

 

5 | There’s Good Night Life

It’s been called "the second city that never sleeps" (though I think whoever coined that term may have never been to New York). Even on a weeknight, we found restaurants open until midnight and lounges and small clubs raging until 3am. Hearing Miley blast from outdoor patios is a funky juxtaposition to the quiet cobble stone streets of 800-year-old Riga. But that’s what makes this city such a charming mix of the old and new.

It’s been called “the second city that never sleeps” (though I think whoever coined that term may have never been to New York). Even on a weeknight, we found restaurants open until midnight and lounges and small clubs raging until 3am. Hearing Miley blast from outdoor patios is a funky juxtaposition to the quiet cobble stone streets of 800-year-old Riga. But that’s what makes this city such a charming mix of the old and new.

It wasn’t until 1991 that Latvia gained its independence so until 1994, people had never seen a McDonald’s. So here we are sitting at the crossroads of history, eating late night Big Macs and leftover caviar from the market in Latvia’s very first fast food joint. I’m still not sure why someone brought a jar of fish eggs to the club, but what did I say about caviar dreams? Anything is possible.

Sibelius Monument

People, Art and Good-byes in Helsinki

By | Europe, OUR TRAVELS, Scandinavia | No Comments

10 of our group of 26 people parted ways with us in Helsinki, Finland today. A week ago, most of us were strangers.

We said our good byes at our last meal in Scandinavia together. Biased as I may be, #girlswhotravel, are probably the most independent and phenomenally strong women I know.

If high school pre-calc taught me anything, it’s that yielding this group of 26 required the perfect probability of mutual connections, interests, logistics, and timing. When life’s unlikely equations happen, it’s best to appreciate the bonds that brought you together.

Good-byes in Helsinki

We said our good byes at our last meal in Scandinavia together. Biased as I may be, #girlswhotravel, are probably the most independent and driven women I know.

Sibelius Monument

Taking advantage of our last hours in this design-driven city, our remaining group took a cab to Sibelius Park to feast our eyes on this hefty piece. The 24 ton monument was constructed to honor the Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius.

Sibelius Monument, Helsinki

The Sibelius Monument is an abstraction of the composer’s music and weaved together from over 600 pipes.

Sibelius Monument

I’m just slightly obsessed.

Ferry from Finland to Estonia. At 4pm, we took a 2 hour ferry from Helsinki, Finland to Tallin, Estonia. Goodbye Scandinavia. Hello Baltic States!

At 4pm, we took a 2 hour ferry from Helsinki, Finland to Tallinn, Estonia. Our view.

We landed at 6pm in Tallin, Estonia. Hello Baltic States!

Good bye Scandinavia. On to the Baltic States!

Christiania, Copenhagen

From Copenhagen to Oslo

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We’re catching a 4pm ferry to Oslo today. Until then, there are city views to be seen and cannabis-scented-communes to explore.

The Canals of Copenhagen

We spent a leisurely morning getting lost in Copenhagen and wandering around the canals.

The Church of Our Saviour

We spent a leisurely morning meandering around Copenhagen and a less-leisurely walking to the top of the Church of Our Saviour, aka Spiral Tower.

View of Copenhagen from the Church of Our Saviour

Ascending the tower takes a sweaty 300-step climb. As you reach the very top, the spiral narrows so much so, that only one person can go up at a time.

The Church of Our Saviour, aka Spiral Tower.

We were rewarded with eye candy at the top. Photo Credit: Calvin Sun.

Christiania, Copenhagen

We explored Christiania, the self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of Copenhagen. Since 1989, the commune of 850 people has been granted a unique status, allowing it to be partially self-regulated.

Christiania, Copenhagen

BBQ grills on top of rooftops, graffitied walls, communal joints and cannabis-smoking tables.

Christiania, Copenhagen

Residents were hostile to our cameras, but they welcomed our kroners when we wanted to buy their trinkets, hot dogs and other imported goods. The experience made me wary, but it was worth bearing their pushy attitudes to see this different side of Copenhagen.

At 4pm we boarded the ferry to Oslo.

At 4pm we boarded the ferry to Oslo. Photo Credit: Calvin Sun.

At 4pm, we boarded the overnight ferry to Oslo.

At 4pm, we boarded the overnight ferry to Oslo. Photo Credit: Calvin Sun.

Pulling away from the harbor in Copenhagen

Pulling away from the harbor in Copenhagen.

Leaving Copenhagen

Good-bye Denmark. Photo Credit: Calvin Sun.

 

To the Danish Coast and Beyond

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Today we ventured outside of Copenhagen to concoct the most perfect love child between art, nature and food.

Our first destination was the Louisiana Museum, a mecca of contemporary art that had been highly, highly recommended by a friend. From Copenhagen, we took a 40 minute metro ride from Central Station to the town of Humlebæk.Plopped in the middle of nature with a huge sculpture garden in the back, and the sea to our backs, Louisiana Museum is sensory explosion.

Our first destination was the Louisiana Museum, a mecca of contemporary art that had been highly, highly recommended by a friend. From Copenhagen, we took a 40 minute metro ride from Central Station to the town of Humlebæk.Plopped in the middle of nature with a huge sculpture garden in the back, and the sea to our backs, Louisiana Museum is sensory explosion.

Louisiana Musuem, Copenhagen

Sculptures are sprinkled throughout the garden and lawn.

Louisiana Musuem, Copenhagen

Squirtle from Pokémon?

Louisana Musuem, Copenhagen

On the edge of the lawn are steps leading to the sea. A museum can’t get better than this.

Louisiana Musuem, Copenhagen

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.

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Inside the museum, I was hit with one of my favorite installations: Yayoi Kusama's Gleaming Lights Of The Souls. I'd seen this piece in New York, but walking into the darkened room of lights and infinity mirrors was just as mesmerizing the second time around.

Inside Louisiana, I was hit with one of my favorite installations: Yayoi Kusama’s Gleaming Lights Of The Souls. I’d seen this piece in New York, but walking into the darkened room of lights and infinity mirrors was just as mesmerizing the second time around. Photo Credit: Calvin Sun.

Yayoi Kusama's Gleaming Lights Of The Souls Installation

It’s like space, a disco and a funhouse combined into a single installation. Photo Credit: Calvin Sun.

Music at the Louisiana Museum

Outside again, we were greeted by possibly one of the coolest contemporary jazz concepts I’d ever seen. As music drifted in, out and eventually encased the entire lawn, we realized that the beats were coming from this 2-man band. They were essentially a living, moving surround sound system.

Getting to Den Røde Cottage

Next, we rushed off to Den Røde Cottage, a Michelin star eatery tucked away in a forest 20 minutes outside of Copenhagen.

Den Røde Cottage

The restaurant is housed in a 200-year-old cottage converted from a hotel for bougey tastemakers in the 1800’s.

Prosciutto and cheese served over a cracker at Den Røde Cottage.

Prosciutto and cheese served over a cracker

Den Rode Cottage

Cheese with salted cucumber, radish and rye bread

Oysters with sea salt

Oysters with sea salt

Den Røde Cottage

Dinner, good conversation, then back to Copenhagen for a night out at the bars. Couldn’t have asked for a better end to a great day. Photo Credit: Calvin Sun.

 

 

 

The Field

By | Food for thought | No Comments

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Amazing post with all the goodies

By | Food for thought | 2 Comments

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