Let’s Catch Up

Hi everyone. I intended to have a new post up by mid-month, but since we arrived in Riga, Latvia, from Tbilisi, Georgia, two weeks ago, I’ve really had a hard time getting back to my blogging. Normally, changing countries would excite me and I’d be able to jump back into my writing. However, since we booked an apartment, that’s a little far from the city center, and the weather has been so cold and dreary, our daily routine of going to the gym and getting groceries, is a bit daunting, and takes up a good chunk of our day. I’m happy to be back blogging, though, because I’m passionate about writing and enjoy staying connected to my readers and fellow bloggers.

Our Last Month in Tbilisi

In addition to continuing our regular workouts at the gym, we spent our last month in Tbilisi preparing for our spring travels. We had our itinerary planned, months in advance, and by the end of February, all our reservations had been made, our tickets were paid for, and all our travel documents had been printed out. 

Last month, I also managed to get my annual dental check-up out of the way. We first started looking for a dentist in the downtown area of Tbilisi, but when we discovered that these clinics in the touristy area of the city, were charging more than the going rate for a cleaning and exam, we decided to look for a clinic in the Vake area where we’d been staying. One day, when we were on the bus, headed toward that area, I spotted a sign shaped like a tooth, hanging over the door to a tall building, and knew there must be a dental clinic there. We got off the bus, went inside, and finally after walking up and down a few flights of stairs, we found the door to the dental office. Once inside, I spoke to a girl at the front desk, who told me in English, the price of a cleaning and exam. I was seen right away by a very competent dentist, who was very gentle and thorough, and who gave me a deep cleaning and exam for about $50.00. 

Before we left Tbilisi, I decided I was long overdue for a new pair of prescription eyeglasses. Even though I only wear glasses at night, after I take out my contacts, mine were more than ten years old and needed to be replaced. I went to the Ronko Optical Shop on a Saturday and without an appointment, I had an eye exam, and ordered new glasses on the same day, for a total cost of $100.00. My glasses were ready two days later, and though they’re not designer frames, they are good quality and really suit my face. 

We got our income tax refund in February and decided to take some of that money and buy an Android Device so that Tim and I could both work on our blogs together. We bought a Samsung Tab A for about $300.00. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find accessories for it anywhere in Tbilisi. We’ll have to either find a screen protector and keyboard for it here, in Riga, or we’ll order them online.

The Journey

Before flying out of Georgia, we had decided to spend six days in a town 7 miles outside of Kutaisi called, Tsqaltubo. Our plan was to visit the caves, the nature reserve, and a canyon nearby. We took a 4 hour, early morning train ride, from Tbilisi to Kutaisi, on March 2nd. From the Kutaisi train station, we took a cab to the Guesthouse on Mirian Mepe. When we arrived, the owner who lives on the property, was there to greet us, and since it was cold when we got there, he had a nice welcoming fire going in the living room fireplace. Our host didn’t speak English, but his sister did, and she was available the whole time we were there, to translate, and call us cabs when we needed them. The guesthouse was exceptional and came well-equipped with a huge kitchen, a laundry facility, a living room with a leather couch, several bedrooms with private baths, and a garden terrace with a barbecue grill. Most of the time we had the place to ourselves, and we spent the evenings watching Netflix in the living room.

On Sunday, the day after we arrived, we took a cab to the Prometheus Caves, which were a couple of miles away. Although the caves were magnificent, we were a bit disappointed in the required guided tour. It was a real test of our tolerance when we were rushed through the caves and not given the opportunity to take in all the stunning rock formations.

Unfortunately, our plans for the next few days fell through when we discovered that the canyon and the nature reserve, that were on our list of places to see, were closed for maintenance. We were disappointed, but we tried to make the most of our last days in Georgia by exploring Kutaisi, visiting the Kutaisi State Historical Museum, and eating out at restaurants that served our favorite Georgian wine and cuisine.

Arriving in Riga

On March 8th, we took an 11:00 pm flight out of Kutaisi, Georgia, and arrived four hours later in Riga, Latvia. Since we knew we’d be arriving so late at night, we had made reservations to stay at a hotel next to the airport. The short walk to the hotel seemed to take forever, as we made our way, through the snow and wind, with our big heavy suitcases. The next morning, after checking out of our hotel, we grabbed a quick bite to eat, then took two bus rides, in total, about 4o minutes long, to our apartment outside of Riga. We’re staying in a smaller studio apartment that we found on Airbnb for $300.00 for the month. Though we’re sleeping on a pull-out sofa, the apartment has everything we need, including a fully-equipped kitchen, and a good shower, with plenty of hot water. 

The First Week in Riga

Since it was snowy, windy, and cold, the first few days in Riga, the first thing we did was figure out what bus to take, to get to the malls, to do a little shopping. The Galleria Mall, which is located downtown, has several floors, with dozens of shops, offering a variety of clothing styles, and on my Birthday Tim took me shopping there for my gift. With so many choices I had a hard time picking out what I wanted, but I finally went to one of my favorite stores, called Mango, and bought a pretty, cream-colored blouse, that ties at the waist, and that will go with all my spring outfits. When we needed a break from shopping, we stopped at a vintage style cafe and had cappuccinos and my favorite flavor, vanilla cake, to celebrate my Birthday.

The first week we also found our new gym called Fit Spot. It’s not as big, or as fancy as the My Fitness gym at the Domina Mall next door, but it’s a much better value at only 21.00 Euro, a piece, for the month, versus 67.00 Euro, a piece, for the month, at My Fitness. 

When we first arrived in Riga, we also had the chance to visit the Latvian National Museum of Art. We paid an entrance fee of 3.00 Euro each and thought this was a very reasonable fee for such a superior museum. The museum which is housed in a grand, historical building designed by German architect Willhelm Neuman, and built in 1905,  contains 52,000 works of art from the 18th century, to the present day.

We enjoyed spending time in this amazing museum while viewing the beautiful works of art, in such a magnificent building.

See the slider below for some of our favorite works from the museum.

Madonna With a White Flower

Madonna With A White Flower (1933) by Karlis Padegs

Girl in a Folk Costume

Girl in a Folk Costume (1930) by Janis Tidemanis

We will be here in Riga until April 9th, and although the weather is windier and colder than it was in Georgia when we left, I think we’ll enjoy our stay here, as we discover all the sites the city has to offer. 

Join me next time for more about Riga

Christina, The Traveling Diva

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