Four Days in Riga, Latvia

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I have recently come back from a long weekend in Riga, Latvia, what can I say?  Riga is a beautiful city full of charms and hidden gems.  Riga is the capital of Latvia in the Baltics and it is a place I had never thought of visiting until I saw what a four day (three night) break would cost me, on this basis I could not let this opportunity go.  I was unsure of what to expect but whatever it was it did exceed all my expectations, I am in love, in love with Riga. 

Unlike some of the more popular city destinations such as Florence, Amsterdam, Berlin, Barcelona or Paris, Riga is less crowded, it is not as touristy, however, I did go in March and I would expect there to be more tourists in the summer.  Most of the travellers who did seem to go to Riga were from neighbouring countries such as Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland and Estonia.  Everyone in Riga speaks English, they are friendly and also very helpful

Riga is a small city yet it has breath taking architecture.  The house of the Blackheads is worth a visit, it is in a square just around the corner from St Peter’s Church which has the largest spire in the city.  The house of the Blackheads house the tourist information centre and originally in the 16th century the house of the Blackheads were a guild for unmarried trades people. 

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Another place to visit is the Three Brothers, three houses built in a row, in different periods of time, they now house the Architecture museum but are situated in a quite cobbled street opposite a café and a shop for lovers of knitting.  The house of the Cats is around the corner from the three brothers and this is a building with a cat decoration on its top, the building is now a restaurant but it is worth seeing because it faces a square which is surrounded by stunning buildings. 

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There is a lot of art nuveoux in Riga, many of the building are decorated with carved faces and foliage.  There are of course two shopping malls in Riga, next to the train station, these are called Origo and Stockmann, both sell cosmetics, fashion clothing etc. and are worth visiting, but I stuck to the old town, for me it was more interesting and I loved the quaint cobbled streets and the old architecture, I also loved the shops and market stalls which sold local handcrafted items.

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Knitwear in Riga is stunning, very similar to our fair isle knits, indeed there are comparisons but with Riga knitwear, the patterns are symbolic and each pattern has its own story, the mittens were traditionally given as a gift at one time and are worth purchasing for gifts, as are the socks, hats and scarfs. 

Prices are very reasonable in Riga, to eat out it is not that expensive and there is plenty of transport in and around the city including busses, trains, trams and trolleybus.  I got a cab from the airport when I arrived to my Hostel for 15 euros which I didn’t think was too bad.  A point to note, if you do get a cab, ensure you agree on a price to pay with the driver before you get in the cab, as you can be ripped off!!

The whole trip cost me around £95 which included a single room in a hostel.  I flew with Ryanair.com and I stayed at Central Hostel.  I was so impressed with this hostel, it was a ten minute walk from the old town of Riga and just down the road from the train station and the Origo and Stockmann malls.  The hostel is in a quieter part of town but on a trolleybus route.  The staff at this hostel were so friendly and all of them spoke very good English,  the common lounge was very cosy and had a hippie feel to it and I had booked a single room with a shared bathroom, my room was so cosy, Central Hostel to me was home from home.  The hostel wasn’t noisy either, if you are an older traveller, like me, then this is the ideal hostel to come too.

 

 

 

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Festivities of Yule 

As we head towards the shortest day. Where the darkness rules over us. Know that from this day forward we are returning slowly to the light.  Use this magical time to reflect on the past year, what has worked for you and what hasn’t?  Think about how you want to move forward into the light.  What do you want to take with you; what do you want to leave behind?

It is a great time to clear out clutter which we no longer need.  It is also a great time for ritual and meditation.  I like to do a reading for myself at Yule.  On this darkest day I light incense and candles and then I chose either Tarot or Oracle Cards to read with.  I shuffle the chosen deck asking what will benefit me in the coming year, helping me toward the light.  I journal the card I draw and any impressions I receive from it.  After this, I then ground myself  and take on board some serious hygge  (a Danish concept of relaxation).  I curl on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate and watch a favourite dvd.  Yule blessings to you all 

Overnight in Dublin. November 2016

What a wonderful city Dublin is it has so much to offer and I feel I have packed a lot into my 24 hours here.  

I flew with Ryanair from Newcastle and then took a number  16 bus from outside Dublin airport into Dublin.  There are plenty of tourists info places around so I stopped to get directions to my hostel which was around a ten minute walk from the city centre.

I found my hostel pretty easily which was just tucked off the main road.  I stayed at the Times Hostel in Camden Place,  a trendy clean hostel with friendly staff and in house events every evening if you wanted to go to them.  I was pleased to find I was upgraded to a room to myself with en suite plus a free breakfast next day. Not bad for €20.  The hostel is also close to some great bars, cafes, restaurants and nightclubs.

I packed a lot into my 24 hours here. I saw Grafton Street where the main shops are and the next day visited Temple Bar.  I was lucky enough to find a lovely new age and crystal shop and stopped in to buy a few treats which I couldn’t resist.

It was also nice to see some street art too


After a few hours round the city, I made my way back to the hostel stopping for a wonderful hot chocolate en route.  

Next day I left my hostel and headed for Trinity University college where I had a look round and viewed the book of Kells and the ancient library.

After this I then hopped on a city tour bus for an hour tour round the city. It’s a great way to pack a lot of sightseeing into your trip and you know it would take too long to walk, especially when on a 24 hour trip.

The whole trip cost me under £50.  I booked my hostel via hostel.com.  For the best hot chocolate in town go to Butlers as they do awesome hot chocolate and artisan confectionery.  If you don’t get time to go into Butlers while in Dublin,  there is a Butlers chocolatier at the airport.  

I got a bus from and to the airport. I got the 16 into Dublin which is the cheapest way at €3.30 and I got the 747 airport express bus to the airport which cost €6.00 these prices were correct at the time of my writing this blog.

 There is plenty to do at the airport while awaiting your flight.  Ryanair flights leave from terminal one.  The departure lounge is like a shopping mall with lots of cafés and shops plenty to keep you occupied until your board the plane.

Florence Trip September 2016

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In September I went to Florence (Firenze) in Tuscany, Italy for a few days.  while I was there I did some journaling and I wanted to share some of it with you.  I arrived in Florence around mid afternoon and took a bus from Pisa airport to Florence Train station where I got a taxi to my hotel.  Once I got to my room, I unpacked and then showered so I would feel a little more refreshed.

On my first night I was going on a Dark Side Tour of Florence Tour which I had pre booked with Dark Rome Tours, who I totally recommend.  We met outside the Louis Vuitton Store in Florence city centre.

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Our guide was a lovely lady who spoke excellent English and she was very passionate and knowledgeable about her city.  We walked along the cobbled and paved streets of this ancient city and heard the dark tales of the Medici family, a banking family of Florence during the 1500’s.  Most of the palaces and piazzas in Florence were built by the Medici’s.   In walking around the streets of this medieval city you could feel and sense its medieval history wrapped up into the stones that made up the Florentine architecture.

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Our guide showed us a beautiful Medici House built by a member of this family for his beloved called Bianca, sometime in the 1500s.  The building was beautiful, like a work of art and its style and the work that had gone into it when it was built showed how this particular Medici loved her.  The fact that it is still standing today and is a beautiful piece of both architecture and art, is a legacy of this love he had for her.

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Also on the tour we got to hear about some gruesome forms of punishment including how a man could be brutally skinned by ripping/cutting into two pieces.  We also got to hear about some of the famous artists of Florence, commissioned by the Medici family.  Whose works are now in the Uffizi Gallery which I was lucky enough to go round, not once, but twice during my stay in Florence.  It is well worth a visit, believe me.

The tour finished with some Gelato, Italian ice cream, and if you don’t like ice cream, I promise you will when you sample some Italian ice cream.  As I walked back to my hotel through Florence’s narrow streets I stumbled upon some really nice shop window displays.

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When I got back to my hotel, I was tired, and so I bid good night to this magical city and looked forward to the next day.

The next day I took a taxi to the Uffizi Gallery where I had bought my ticket a few weeks before.  I still had to queue but the wait was worth it, I spent around two hours in the art gallery looking at works of Giotto, by far my favourite work, the huge Icons he painted were stunning and also originally for the churches of Florence.  You can view them here on my YouTube.

After I had been around the gallery I then followed the signs for the Duomo (Florence Cathedral) and slowly but surely I was beginning with the help of a map to get my bearings around this beautiful city.  I didn’t go into the cathedral as the queues were too long, so instead I walked around the outside of it and appreciated its architecture and stunning artwork and frescos.

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I then went to the Baptistery, located outside the front of the cathedral and gazed upon the famous bronze doors, these were apparently once gold.

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Looking at the marble architecture of the Cathedral and Baptistery was just as wonderful as going inside, looking at the bronze doors was amazing, the art work so detailed and so life like, this photo does not do it justice.  After I had been to look around the Cathedral square, I had some ice cream and then made my way to the church of San Lorenzo where I saw some beautiful artwork especially in the dome of the church and I also saw the tomb of the Medici family in the crypt.

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On my final day in Florence, I had another visit to the Uffizi art gallery and decided to do some diary filming of the gallery because the art work was so stunning.  I also visited the palace of  Vecchio which is next door to the art gallery and was one of the Medici palaces.  I had a walk around the court yard of this palace and then I walked back to my hotel.  I finished the night off by going to a lovely restaurant for a meal of goats cheese and spinach stuffed ravioli in a cream cheese sauce, believe me, it was so tasty.

I totally enjoyed my stay in Florence and would recommend a visit to this beautiful Tuscan city to any one.  I flew from Manchester and it took around two hours to get to Pisa Airport which is small but easy to find your way around.  Getting the bus from the airport into Florence is easy, you just go out of the airport and turn to the right and the bus stop is literally about 100 yards away.

I stayed in a budget hotel, the only downside was that there was no air con, but other than that it was ideal for my needs.  The hotel I stayed at was called the Malaspina Hotel and I have to say it was ideal for my needs  They serve a continental style buffet breakfast which is very nice, all rooms are ensuite and so ideal for the solo traveller like myself.

You can fly to Pisa Airport from most U.K airports with some budget airlines such as Ryan air

If you want to stay in a hostel in Florence I did check one out and it was clean, and it seemed okay and it was right in the city centre so close to everything.  You can check out hostels at Hostel World

I did not find Florence as expensive as I thought it would be, you can budget there if you want too, but as a major Italian tourist destination, It is going to be more pricier than normal.  It is also a great base to travel around other Tuscan cities such as Pisa and Lucca.

 

My sacred working space

Who says that our working space should be dull? Certainly not me. Here at my table is the centre of my operations, here I have my lap top and where I list my stock on my etsy store. It is where I  do my crafting,my readings and distance healing work for my etsy clients.

Therefore I need a focal point, something to help me connect with spirit, healing energy and the divine.  I have crystals here which resonate loving and healing energy with me, running water fountain for cleansing, aura room sprays for cleansing the atmosphere before and after spiritual work and a statue of the buddha and our lady of Guadeloupe to represent the god and goddess, yin and yang the balance of male and female energy.

This space blesses and sanctifies my working area. It makes it gentle and loving and brings a beautiful energy to my work space. 

I believe anyone can bring a touch of sacredness to their work space using anything which resonates with you. It will bring a positivity to your space and gentle and calming flow.

Time to get Blogging

This is my new blog, written by me and about me, family, loved ones and other bits and peices.  It is, I suppose like an online diary.  Here I will get naked in writing about the good, the not so good and the downright ugly; my ups and my downs.    Into this blog I will weave tales of my travels, recipes, reviews,  my practise and belief systems and how I look at the world ……….plus many more things that I can’t think of right now.

I am not going to introduce myself, I don’t feel the need to do that nor justify doing so, all I will say is that as I weave my story into this blog, then you, dear reader will get to know me.  I will say this, I am creative, I am a crafter, I am a witch, a tarot reader, I am a hippie and I have dreadlocks.  I have an etsy shop too which I have had now for almost 7 years. 

Welcome to my world, dear reader, please do step inside my blog and emerse yourself in the musings of a Northern English Lass………………………….watch this space; more to come soon