Doing a bit of a sort out I found a bunch of stuff from some old trips, this is leaflets, receipts, and old tickets. I have already scrap booked my trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia so I don’t really have much use for them anymore. So I thought I would do a little blog post and reminisce.
Dubrovnik was an amazing trip, it was relaxing but we did lots of activities. The most exciting was probably the scuba diving we did with Blue Planet Diving Centre. It was a little terrifying initially, the thought of putting your head underwater and just ‘breathing normally’ so I had a little moment but after that I really enjoyed it. Since it was our first go we barely went 5m deep!
We also walked along the Old Town walls (in the baking mid day sun with a million other tourists) which gave a great view of the Old Town. And also a view of a few of the bombed out remains of little houses from the Croatian War of Independence. We also took a gondola to the top of the hill to see the lovely view from up there, we felt that it was a waste of money really as we just walked down the hill to get back. There was also a little museum at the top which gave some more insights to the War, although not much was in English unfortunately.
It was also a trip of Island hopping. We heading out to Mljet where most of the island is a National Park, we hired bikes and toured the park, we also swam in a picturesque lake which was lovely. That ended up being a more expensive trip than anticipated though (cost of boat there, the cost of the bikes, and lunch). We also took a little trip to a smaller island called, Lokrum where there were loads of peacocks. This was the day after we had been out kayaking and I got very sunburnt on my legs and feet. So every step in Lokrum was agony. Good memories!
I found a bag full of ‘stuff’ from a couple of trips I had taken a while ago. I had already scrap booked these trips and I didn’t really want to hold onto to all of it but it did bring back a few memories. This is the stuff I found from the trip I took to Shanghai, China in 2009.Above- My sister took me on a little trip to visit a place she liked to go to buy little cups. I can not remember where that was, but we did indeed buy some tiny, handmade, cups. The kind without a handle, that you can imagine drinking green tea out of, they were wrapped in the orange Disney paper you can see top left. Whisk was a fancy place we went for lunch, I remember getting a chocolate torte for dessert. I remember significant things. I think the white business card in the middle was for a lottery or gambling, the blue blob of toothpaste on it is Haibo. Haibo was, obviously, the mascot of the Shanghai Expo and he was EVERYWHERE in Shanghai whilst I was there.Above- We went to a small Art Gallery, and the only thing I remember is my sister making me and her boyfriend (now husband) stand in a very hot window, in full glare of the sun as she spent 20mins trying to take a picture. The photo, top left, shows where we were standing. On one day we went to a shopping centre and I felt compelled to buy something. You can’t really browse without a sales assistant insisting on helping which was interesting given that we were speaking totally different languages. When I’d picked my item I went over the till to pay, she took my leggings and gave me a receipt and sent me to another till. At the other till I handed over my money and was given another receipt. I took this back to the first till and got my leggings (with the delightful orange mushroom label pictured). Seemed like convoluted way of doing things but that’s the style in China. Above- I took and used my Lomography fisheye camera. How I wish I’d been able to take a better analogue camera, the fish eye thing got really old really fast! Top right is an exciting photo of the TV screen in the taxi (like the future) which instructed me to ‘please do not forget the things you take’. We went to an English language bookshop on my last day and I obviously bought something, wrapped in the brown paper. I think it was something odd like Frankenstein, and the font had been printed so small I never actually managed to read that copy!
Boyfriend demanded (ok, politely suggested) sushi for our first night in London. As it was his birthday, and I like Japanese food, I allowed this and found us OKA which was highly rated and nearby.
I didn’t realise it was located inside a little shopping centre and food court. But it was all decked out for Christmas (this was in November), and it was a fancy yuppie food court. This was a hipster holiday. It’s quite small so I think we were lucky to get a table. I got vegetable tempura, avocado maki, and Jasmine green tea- so pretty much my usual. It was pretty good, although honestly not the best I’ve ever had. I finished up with the matcha and white chocolate cake which I found a bit too sweet, especially with the accompanying ice cream. Boyfriend was going to share one with me but they had nuts, he has an allergy, it’s not a good mix.
We headed into The Natural History Museum, which is always popular. It’s free entry, apart from the temporary exhibitions and I like it better than the museum in New York, although that may be because they charged me $26!
We visited the earthquake area where they still have the mock up of a Kobe supermarket, and you can experience the 1995 Kobe earthquake in the simulator. We headed onwards to find the animals (ok let’s face it, I was looking for the dinosaurs), and saw some extinct specimens like dodos, and the skeleton of an extinct giant sloth.
It was pretty busy for a Friday afternoon and we had to push through the throngs in the popular exhibits. Like the main hall where the skeleton of a blue whale has recently replaced Dippy the Diplodocus. This was the controversial move, but Dippy was a plaster cast while the blue whale is a genuine skeleton.
Finally we found the most exciting part, A REAL LIVE (animatronic) T-REX!!! It’s tucked around a corner but there’s always a little group of people getting their shots of the rampaging T-Rex (not really rampaging!).
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.