Latvia. How did I end up in here?

http://dennisvandenelzen.com

What exactly is this about?

In my, little bit over, 26 years long life, I’ve lived in several places around the World. I’m a person who can’t really sit still on her butt, but on the other hand, vision of being in a constant move doesn’t speak to me either. So I had to find my golden mean. And I did.

When I’m not traveling, tired of vagabondish lifestyle, I move in to different countries. It still kind of feels like traveling but at least you can unpack your clothes.

I remember one particular quote that stuck with me. It goes:

Travel. As much as you can. As far as you can. As long as you can. Life’s not meant to be lived in one place.

For some people it’s just a quote – looks cool, sounds cool but ain’t gonna happen.

For me it’s part of lifestyle I’ve chosen, it’s my reality, my every day life. Till this very moment I got to live in 9 countries, located on 3 different continents. There are many stories to tell about my previous adventures but I’ll leave it for some other time.

As it is for now, I would like to focus on 1/9 of whole; a place which is my home now, a place that totally unexpectedly got my heart.

Latvia is a country that shouldn’t be measured in square meters, but in amount of people with good hearts and great minds.

Beautiful, green and peaceful, it’s one of three Baltic States with less than 2 million of citizens and 50% of area covered with forests. It’s a place still quite unspoiled, without mass tourists; a place where you can breathe and relax and enjoy stunning sunset by the Baltic shore or experience nightlife in Riga. Whatever you want.

Sunset by the seaside
Sunset by the seaside

How did it all start?

It’s been 3,5 years since, for the very first time, I set my feet on Latvian ground. I was a student back then, still unsure what I want from life. I figured that I need to change something in order to… change something. So I did. I applied for student’s exchange program and moved to Latvia. Great experience. I did some studying, did some partying and came back to Poland after 4 months.  Strange thing, as it didn’t feel like being back home and truth to be told, I missed more little Valmiera town than loud Poznań.

I did what I had to do – graduated my University and went off to see the World, just like I planned.

My travels took me 2 years. Been here and there; meeting new people and seeing all these beautiful places but never have I stopped talking with my Latvian friends. Little did we know that I will be back. For longer.

What do I do here?

I live here. I moved to Riga in December because my boyfriend is Latvian and the entire long distance relationship got tiring. We figured it’s a great deal as I like Latvia, Latvia likes me, I have friends I miss and a job that doesn’t require knowledge of neither Latvian nor Russian language.

I bought my ticket, I packed my bags and here I am.

Winter in Latvia

How do I find myself in here?

It’s not the firs time living in Latvia but it is first time living in Riga.

When you move to another country, everything seems to be different. Different language, different currency, different mentality. I’m constantly seeking for more differences, things that I like and things I don’t.

I think this is my favourite part of living in different place: exploring.

Each day since I move here I’m learning something new. I’m learning that Latvians enjoy dark bread with cumin. I’m learning that dill is quite popular in this part of Europe as an addition to food. I’m learning that in grocery stores i can find my favourite childhood snack – Riekstiņi. I’m learning that public buses provides my certain dose of entertainment; that Russian language is the one I hear more often, that football isn’t a big deal. Here rules bobsleigh, ice hockey and beautiful women.

Isn’t fascinating that I’m learning something new each day and I’ve been here for nearly 6 months?

Liepāja, Baltic Sea

My every-day life

Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. Located where Daugava River kiss Baltic Sea goodnight. Called The Pearl of the Baltics.

My favourite Riga is morning Riga. The moment, when you walk out from your cosy home, being struck by cold air and busy street noises; when it’s still so cold during early hours that you need to wrap your scarf a little bit tighter around your neck. Everyone rushes somewhere.

Morning Riga

At the bus stop there are always people, waiting; maybe for a bus, maybe for a friend or a stranger who will greet them with a smile. They are still half asleep that’s why some of them tries to wake up by drinking hot coffee from a plastic cup.

There’s no interaction, the only ones talking are people who know each other. Society in Latvia is pretty aloof-like, so small talk is not an option.

Sometimes I put my headphones in and drift away but some days I decide to embrace morning vibe.

Bus ride to work is always fascinating. I can’t listen because I don’t speak the language but I can observe; people, behaviours, gestures.

I remember when, on very beginning, when I was still buying tickets with bus driver, he yelled at me and waved, showing me to move into more crowded part of the vehicle.

I thought to myself: hey, man, relax, I have some personal space in here, won’t go further where there’s no air.

Little did I know that it was only for safety reasons as the yellow line I was standing on was a danger zone 😀

Morning Riga

Walk to work takes me few minutes. During this time I observe a little bit more. I see people covered with jackets, hiding underneath warm scarfs only to sometimes notice individuals, like this girl in short dress and thin tights, walking proudly, trying to hide her shaking body underneath light leather jacker. Freezing but sexy. No, thank you. I’ll remain warm potato style.

I work for international company, office type of job, fixed hours 9-6 pm with one hours of lunch break. Honestly, it’s the first time of my life that I’m sitting on my butt without need for smiling to customers as I used to in my previous: front office and waiting jobs. Kind of like it, kind of noticed that I still smile, to myself.

After work I have time for quick snack at home and then I’m off to the gym (if I manage to pull myself together). Post-gym snack, a movie and my day is over. I’m going sleep just to wake up in the morning and start my little routine over again.

Weekends are work-free, bus-free and (for most of the time) people-free. Together with N. we are organizing little dates. Cinema, restaurant, walk around the block or city centre; sometimes we will go to see his family, sometimes we will stay home doing absolutely nothing. I don’t sightsee too much, don’t move too much. I guess it’s my thing: every single time I’m changing my location, I leave sightseeing for the end, I think I have time to see it all. In this particular case I’m simply waiting for better weather. April is about to end and Riga is still dressed in sad, grey colours. Too bad because it’s such beautiful country 🙂

Latvian technique of colouring Easter eggs

Do I enjoy my every-day life?

Of course. It has always been my dream to change something in my life, to grow, have full time office job.

I’m kidding.

I can’t wait for another journey and I’m already making travel plans for nearest future. Truth to be told, I learned how to function in this particular way and I’m doing pretty fine. The thing is, that’s just not my cup of tea. Not yet.

Bottom line

When you get to taste your life in different place for longer period of time, you learn how to blend in. You know your bus schedules, favourite food and waiting staff, in the place were you eat lunch, already know your order – it starts to feel like home. When you go back to your studio apartment and you are being greeted by your boyfriend’s siamese cat, who purr loudly just to say hello – you know you’re home.

I know that soon I will leave Latvia to chase kangaroos and quokkas on the other side of the World but till then I will live my comfortable life, watching stunning sunsets and enjoying delicious Riekstiņi.

Šarlote

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