Riga, Latvia- Fashion Museum

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Whilst in Riga, we popped into the Fashion Museum.  It’s quite small, and cost about 7euro each.  The exhibition on when we were there was ‘The Secrets of the East. Western Fashion and China’, that’s closing on Oct 16th.  There was some Chinese fashion, and Chinese themed objects such as horoscopes and hexograms (to get your fortune).  But the point of the exhibition was to explore the influence of Chinese fashion on Western culture, particularly in the early 20th century.

Apparently, in the 1930’s and 40’s a lot of people left Russia and emigrated to China (don’t you always forget that Russia is near Asia?).  One of them was Aleksandra Gramolina who was a fashion designer in Shanghai before moving to Riga in the 1950’s to become director of the Riga Fashion House.

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There were also a few examples of fashion gone crazy; an actress with a 17.7inch waist, x-raying childrens feet to get their shoe size, and (of course) Chinese foot binding.

 

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Riga, Latvia- Graffiti

I just got back from Riga, Latvia, and am putting together my photographs.  But I’ve got a few I can show you quickly of interesting Rigan graffiti.

First is the graffiti in our apartment block.  We went Air BnB, and stayed in a real, creepy, Soviet era apartment.  The actual flat inside was fine but the corridor and stairs were a bit grungy.  Anyway, it was covered in ‘modern communication tactics’, you really can’t say they were ruining the wall.

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We headed out to Miera Ielas or Peace Street, so named because there is a cemetery at the end (and there used to be a hospital at the other so you started and ended your life on peace street).  Now it’s full of hipster bars, although only on one side of the street, the other side just seems quite derelict.  The gentrification of the area has not been lost on our street artist friends.

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On the side of a pizza place where we had lunch was some cute rainbow, liberal graffiti with messages of love and unicorns.  It made me think Riga must be some liberal bastion but then it’s more likely that this is a reaction to more common right-wing conservatism.  Well I dunno, I was there for four days…

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Packing for Riga!

I am heading off to Riga, Latvia with mum and sister.  I am very excited.  I’ve never been to Latvia before and I wouldn’t have picked Riga myself so might not have ever gone there if mum hadn’t picked it.  As of yet I’m not sure what we’re going to get up to, we’re only there for 4 days including travel days.  But the weather looks quite British.  The forecast is for about 13 degrees and cloudy.

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Clothes wise I’m taking 2 pairs of jeans (including the pair I’ll wear on the plane), 3 t-shirts, 2 long sleeve tops, 2 dresses, pajamas, and underwear.  We’re only taking hand luggage but it all fits in to my rucksack easily.  Actually, I have a nice amount of space to fit any purchases I make!

I’m also taking a couple of books, toiletries (in a clear plastic bag when packed), passport, euros, travel insurance, purse, keys.  I’ve got 2 film cameras (and I’ll take my digital camera and phone) and a couple of little notebooks.  The notebooks are because I’ve been quite into scrap booking my trips recently, I’m going to take them with me so I can roughly plan which pictures to use.

 

 

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The Food of Edinburgh

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Here we have the food of Edinburgh.  Bottom left is vegetarian haggis pie, there’s plenty of Japanese food; sushi, tempura, and gyoza. I had a veggie hotdog, a green tea latte, a giant garlic bread, and the absolutely essential Irn Bru.

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Edinburgh Alleyways

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Just a quickie with some snaps of the interesting names of some of the old alleyways in Edinburgh.  I rather like fleshmarket close…but it’s name that as there used to be an abattoir at the other end.  We ate at World’s End Pub, which, like World’s End Close, is situated at the old Edinburgh boundary.   Edinburgh was a walled city, and the gates were locked each night.  The ‘world’ was everything inside the walls, so they represented the end of the world.

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Edinburgh- The National Museum

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Whilst in Edinburgh we meet up with my sister and niece and needed a nice, family friendly activity  for us all to do.  It’s free, although the temporary exhibit had a charge.  Following the schedule of a two-year-old we had lunch at about 11:30am, then headed to the museum.  There’s an eclectic mix of things to look at.  We looked at the skeletons of extinct animals, we learnt about camouflage with an interactive fish game, and we explored robotics by programming a robot arm to spell out my niece’s name.

My niece enjoyed seeing the planes hanging from the ceiling, although asked where the stairs were so we could get on board.  We liked seeing the crazy shoes in the fashion exhibitions, and feeling the samples of the different fabrics that designers use.  It’s hard to go into more depth as we spent most of the time running after a toddler (running along the corridors is the best game ever obvs).

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Renowned brick artist Warren Elsmore (why did I not become a brick artist???) made this 3m long replica of the museum out of lego.  It’s pretty cool, and hard to photograph due to glare on the glass case.  But he’s recreated some of the key items on display, like a dinosaur and a whale jawbone.  There’s also a couple getting married, the groom is wearing a kilt!  And it’s generally very cute!  But I do love models of things.

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Edinburgh- David Bann Vegetarian Restaurant

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We went to a rather fancy vegetarian restaurant while in Edinburgh, David Bann.  It was a little pricier than we usually go for but not too much more if you restrain yourself.  The mains are about £12-14, starters £4-8, we didn’t manage to squeeze in a desert but they are about £6.  I went for the Beetroot, Bramley apple and Strathdon Blue cheese pudding, which was rather delicious.  Boyfriend chose Risotto of runner beans and roasted red pepper which he enjoyed but didn’t think it was as special as mine.  Anyway, I highly recommend.

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Edinburgh- Botanical Garden

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On our last day in Edinburgh we headed to the Botanical Garden, which turned out to be a pretty good day out.  The weather had improved greatly and it was quite lovely to walk through the flowers.  The gardens are free but the greenhouses cost about £6 each, which was a good deal.  I don’t think it would have been as interesting if we had missed the greenhouses though.  Around the gardens and in the greenhouses there were a variety of different ‘themes’ such as woodland, Chinese hillside, vegetable garden, and so on.  Collages

We stopped at one of the cafes and got a light lunch, which was pretty affordable but nothing to get excited about.  There was also a couple of small exhibitions in the visitors centre.  One thrilling one was on peat, and another was some kind of art exhibition.  Boyfriend was a bit disappointed I think that there wasn’t more info on stuff, he likes plaques and things. I just liked looking at the pretty flowers.

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Edinburgh- Arthur’s Seat

Some nature in the heart of Edinburgh; Arthur’s Seat.  It’s in Holyrood Park, near Holyrood Palace, which is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland.  It’s an ancient volcano about 250m above sea level.  So, it’s not a long walk but it’s a big steep hill basically.  Although there were small children and mad ladies in flip flops heading up there, I was struggling slightly.  I am quite unfit these days though, and the torrential rain had finally stopped and the hot sun came out which didn’t actually help.

DesktopOn our first approach we had the choice of a long more gentle slope or the steep shorter one, we chose the horrid one to go up and the gentle one to come down on.  There were some lovely views over Edinburgh, and the sea as we went up.  And lots of tourists, as was the general theme of Edinburgh while we were there.  In fact, we could see Arthur’s Seat from pretty much everywhere whilst we walked around Edinburgh all week and there were always little figures visible on the top.

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Edinburgh- The Castle

Collages22I suppose a visit to Edinburgh would be incomplete without a visit to The Castle, unfortunately everyone else in Edinburgh thought that too!  It opens at 9:30am and we arrived at 9:40am and still had to queue for 25 minutes to get in.  And the seas of people just kept on growing as we walked around.   And the number of people made it hard to see things properly, but then it’s a bit rich of me to complain when I was one of those people!

Collages23edinburgh1It was also delightful rainy in that Scottish way when we were there, so that was nice! The other excellent addition that really enhanced our experience of the Castle was the ‘Esplanade’. This is a huge set of tacky, bright blue, plastic seats for military tattoos (not the inky ones, these are performances by military bands that you can pay up to £74 for).

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There weren’t as many indoor bits that were opened up as I was expecting, which was a shame given the rain and number of people. They do actually still have a military presence in the buildings so obviously you can’t just wander in to the barracks. But for £17 I wanted more from my visit. There was a guided tour you could take but we decided just to wander which was perhaps a mistake given how little info there was on everything.

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