Europe

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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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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Packing for Edinburgh

Boyfriend has decreed that we are not allowed to take two foreign holidays in a year. We went to the USA in April (and I am going to Latvia with mum in October), so our summer jolly had to be in the UK.  London was on the cards for a while, but we decided to head away further north to Edinburgh.   Annoyingly, London is enjoying a heat wave and Edinburgh is not but the tickets are booked.  Also it means we can see my sister and niece who live in Glasgow.

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So, I headed out today and picked up a new rucksack (actually three!) to take with me.  I bought the Blacks City 30, which is a 30L rucksack designed for travel and commuting rather than hiking.  And it was in the sale.

You can see what I was able to fit into it, and now it’s pretty full:

  • underwear and socks
  • sleepwear
  • 5 x t-shirts
  • 1 x shorts
  • 1 x trousers
  • sunglasses
  • snacks
  • painkillers
  • itinerary
  • purse
  • 1 x skirt
  • 1 x dress
  • 1 x cardigan
  • raincoat
  • 2 x books
  • 1 x tote bag
  • toiletries
  • cameras
  • hairbrush
  • keys

And left out:

  • small day bag
  • travel outfit
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London- Victoria and Albert Museum

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As an early birthday treat mum and I went to London to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum.  It wasn’t my first visit, but there’s tonnes to see.  We took an earlyish train but it was still lunchtime when we arrived.  I opted for a rather nice goats cheese lasagne, the food there is pricey but at least it’s nice.  Across the road at the Natural History Museum the cafe is pretty crap.

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We thought about going to the temporary exhibition which was a history of underwear, but it costs £12 for those tickets, and we found the other fashion galleries instead. It was a through the ages look at fashion.  Mum commented that the ‘modern’ pieces aren’t that impressive.  I agreed but I think it was a little warped.  The older clothes were clearly picked to represent common trends, while the newer ones were ones that would have stood out from the crowd.  I mean there no stretch skinny jeans so it can not be said to truly represent what people are actually wearing today.

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