Friday 21 Jul
Roughing it in dorms and the introduction of the "fun fund"
We stayed at the Argonaut Backpackers in Riga - a lively, friendly place where we stayed in our first dorm. This was a big step into roughing it and we are pleased to say we survived our young, frisky room mates with a little help from our new slow release melatonin (thanks Z for introducing us... don't worry Mom - it is herbal).
We did lots of walking about the town looking at lovely buildings and churches etc but in order to fully immerse ourselves in local culture we of course needed to sample the local brew. Okay... okay... all the local brews. I am even becoming a bit of a connoiseur after only 6 days. Where will it end? We ended our stay with a bit of a lively session with some fellow travellers and Andrew taught me how to play chess. I was not sure I had the patience for it until I beat him. Now I quite like the game.
One thing has been driven home so far on this trip - we are both so blessed to have grown up in peaceful times, the people of the nations we have so far visited have bourne heavy burdens with wars, genocides and occupations. We have been reminded of unbelievable horrors that millions endured. It was even more poignant for me when we visited the Jewish Museum in Lativa, of the 90 000 jews living there in 1941, only 1000 survived WW2. My grandfather's family was among those 90 000.
On our last day and having run out of our measly budget I decided to put a treat on the old credit card - I know it is early days still but I thought it time to create a "fun fund". There for pure indulgence and pleasure. I shall remember that meal and fine Shiraz for some time yet. Spent the rest of what turned out to be a rather boozy afternoon, looking around massive markets where you could buy anything your heart desired. Including hearts for that matter!
Off on another train journey - this time to Russia. Met a Dane just before we left who gave us some roubles, some sound advice and a rather pitying smile...