I really hate the Cosmoba website, it’s corporate black and barbie pink. It doesn’t reflect the restaurant at all. Cosmoba is a family run Italian restaurant, or ristorante! It’s not huge, but we managed to sneak a table on Friday night. It was quite Christmassy when we were there, there was a pyramid of panatone in the window, as well as twinkling lights.
I had one of the specials, which was gnocchi, walnuts, and pear (pear was a bit weird but it was still yummy). Boyfriend had lasagna, and we both had a lovely time.
Whilst in London town we stayed in a super hipstery hotel, The Hoxton in Holborn (not in Hoxton, slightly confusingly). We paid about £338 for 2 nights which ain’t cheap, but everywhere in London has inflated prices. I’m sure you can find cheaper places though, but the hotel looked good and the location was convenient. Continue reading
Just a quick post about the National Museum of Art in Riga. We popped in when it was pissing it down at the time, and it proved to be an enjoyable rainy day diversion. Much of the art initially was not to my taste, but the constructionist exhibit was interesting especially within the context of communist occupation. Continue reading
Latvia, in general, had a horrible time during WW2, initially occupied by the Nazis before being claimed by the Soviets. Under the Nazis, about 24,000 Latvian Jews were killed in 1941, which is fairly staggering. I mean the population of Latvia at the time was probably less than 2 million. The subsequent 5 decades of Soviet rule were fairly damaging to Latvia. So many native Latvians left, disappeared, were killed, or were expelled, and there was so much immigration from Russia and elsewhere in the Soviet Union that by 1989, only about 35% of the Latvian population were native Latvians.
Anyway, things are certainly better now! But while we were learning all these depressing facts at the Museum of the Occupation in Riga, I was thinking what a difficult transition it must have been for people in Latvian when they finally became free of the Soviet Union.
The Old Town in Riga is probably the reason my mum picked it as our destination. It’s got the beautiful, colourful buildings that belong on a chocolate box. It was damaged in World War Two, I’m guessing there was some reconstruction afterwards. But, apparently, the reconstructed and restored some of the buildings in the Old Town after Latvia became independent to restore the historic look. It became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, and Riga was the European Capital of Culture in 2014.
It’s extremely quaint and atractive, and well worth a wander round. Dom Square, above, has the cathedral as well as a host of restaurants and some little shops.
We headed across the bridge and over the Daugava River to the National Library of Latvia, which is housed in an odd looking building which seemed a lot more attractive on the architects sketch. It is known as Gaismas Pils or Castle of Light, the Library was founded in 1919 but construction didn’t start on this building until 2008. I was pleasantly surprised that you could just wander around like bumbling tourists.
They have a campaign called, A Special Book For A Special Bookshelf. People donated books that were personally meaningful to the Peoples Bookshelf (that’s it above). New donations will supplement the ones from 2014 when Riga became European Capital of Culture, when people formed a ‘chain of book lovers’ around the library.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
On 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.
I 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!
It 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).
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.