Thursday, April 25, 2013

Berlin Continued

I see a lot of churches. As lovely as most are, I admit that I've become a bit more likely to say "Meh. Another church." than "Wow." Berlin's cathedral is one of the "WOW!" churches. My pictures don't do it justice.

 I'm rather wary of being buried in a box one day. I'd much rather be cremated. That said, if I have to be buried in a box, bury me in one like this one, but purple and glittery. :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

B to the Erlin. Word.

I went to Berlin. That's in Germany. I speak no German beyond "nien." Luckily, the fabulous Allison and Andrea Schmidt showed me around.

Flying to Berlin from Riga was cheap. I scored a 99 euro ticket through AirBaltic.Berlin is a bit more expensive than Riga, but since I have a student id and since I stayed with friends, it wasn't too pricy, thankfully.

Here are some of the pictures from my trip. I put all of the photos up on Facebook. I'll do a separate post with the graffiti art photos. My internet is slow today and I don't want to overwhelm it. :)

Here is the Brandenburg Gate. We were stopped by two Russian teenagers and asked "Why is it so cold here?" Allison's answer: "It's Berlin?" Like me, they probably thought, "Germany is south of me. Therefore, it is warm." Not true. 

 The Pergemon museum was rad. They rebuilt a Roman (?) sacrificial shrine inside the building. They also have a fabulous Islamic art exhibit. 

 This is the first Latin American restaurant we ate at. The food was mediocre. The music was great. 


  One day, we went to Potsdam. We ate at a chocolate restaurant. I was too excited about the chocolate to take a photo of the spread before, so here is the after. 

 This palace took forever to walk to. I'm sure in the summer it's a lovely walk. Not so much in the melty spring. 

 Allison and I got a behind the scenes tour of the German government thanks to Franzi, a friend who works for one of the politicians.

 This is the view from the dome in in the Reichstag.
 This was a rad little Mexican restaurant that made my day.

First taco Tuesday since leaving Lawrence!

I'll post on the graffiti and the Cathedral later. I'm tired of waiting for photos to load! This post is brought to you by Ellie Goulding's Explosions, even though I'm sure I've already linked that on here at some point. I love this song so much. :) She's coming to Riga, but I can't afford tickets. And it's in the middle of the week, which is damn inconvenient.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Four things I like about Rezekne in no particular order:

1. People here are genuinely nice.
2. My rent is cheap and I live near the center of town.
3. I feel like I've gone around the world to end up in my home town.
4. My schools are lovely and my students are smart. 

Four things I don't like about Rezekne:

1. I feel like I've gone around the world to end up in my home town.
2. I miss cafes.
3. Riga is only 4 hours away, but that seems longer than it did when I first arrived.
4. Snow in April. Gah.

I just got back from visiting friends in Berlin and Zagreb. I will update you on that this weekend. It'll be enthralling, I'm sure. I'm a very exciting person.

Here's a picture from Zagreb:

This interlude post is brought to you by Tom Petty's "American Girl" and sunshine.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Quick Update

Yo. I'm unexpectedly free today. The lady who drives my butt out to my rural school is sick and, thankfully, they don't expect me to take the bus. (I could figure it out if I was properly motivated, but I haven't yet had to be that motivated.)

I thought I'd update you lovlies. Not a lot has been happening, though. I've mostly been teaching and making good on my New Year's resolution to hang out with my Rezekne friends rather than head to Riga all the time. It's been fun, but I think I'll head to Riga soon to see my friends there since I kinda miss them.

I was supposed to go to Valmiera a couple of weeks ago to visit David, the ETA who works there, but I came down with the flu. GAH. It wasn't as bad as I expected, honestly. I felt really, really crappy for three days or so and then it progressed to mildly crappy and exhausted for a couple of days. I'm now at the end of the "coughing my lungs up" phase.

Having the flu meant that I could cross one item off of my metaphorical "Experiences in Latvia" list: visit the clinic. My friend Marija, bless her, met me at the clinic to be my interpreter. I was afraid that she'd catch the plague during her baby-sitting duties, but she dodged that bullet. Besides having to wait a long time, the experience was good as far as being sick goes. I paid about $16 upfront to see the doctor. The doctor checked me out, asked me why I didn't call someone to come to my house since I had a fever (foreigners don't get that service, it seems), gave me a giant bottle of hot water to carry home as a way to keep me warm, and prescribed some Tamiflu and something for the symptoms. All in all, the trip (sans insurance, including medication) cost me about $50. I'm not even going to bother submitting it to my insurance company.

The doctor was quite worried about me living alone as a foreigner and a young woman. She saw Marija on the street a couple days later and ran over to her to ask how I was doing. That's dedication.

Tomorrow I head to Daugavpils for the first time. I won't get much time to look around, though, since I am judging some sort of regional English speech contest. None of my students are participating, so I thought it would be a good experience (and a good line on ye ol' resume). My friend Lewis, a volunteer from England, agreed to take my class. For some reason arranging a substitute made me feel like a legit teacher. I hope my students don't eat him alive. I forbade them from asking about his 1) love life, 2) religious beliefs, and 3) salary. I have been asked all of these questions by various students. Ah, cultural differences. I explained to the students that at home, we do not begin a conversation with, "Do you believe in god? Are you married?"

And since this is a wordy-ass post with little fun stuff, I shall gift you with a photograph. This is the happiest cat in Latgale. She lives at the ice-fishing office (where you pay for your fish). She gets a warm heater, all the fish she can eat, and lots of love from various fishermen. Ah, to be a kitty.

This post is brought to you by "I Don't Feel Like Dancing" by the Scissor Sister. I actually DO feel like dancing, but not in Latvia where they dance pretty well and expect me to dance well, too (I do not). I prefer the hipster version of dancing that celebrates bad dancing. Maybe when I visit Allison and Andrea in Berlin at the end of the month....

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Latgale Winter: Warning for Fish Death

Latvia is cold.

I'm handling it much better than I thought I would, though. Part of me is proud of this. Part of me is terrified that I'm proud since I know that means the weather gods will be angered at my pride and February will bring a week or more of -30 C.

Last week, there was a Turkish teacher visiting Rezekne. I accompanied the group on a couple of rural school tours and on some winter activities.

One thing I love about Latvia is the diversity among the rural schools. Most of the schools have pretty well-developed arts programs, too. The students dance, sing, play instruments, and make crafts after school everyday. The communities seem to, in many ways, revolve around the schools.

Malta, one of the schools I visisted, has a great metal-working and jewelry making class. Here is the classroom:

I wish they sold their pieces! I took some photos in their small museum.

On Friday night, the group went to a Latgalian culture night at a local restaurant where we ate traditional Latgalian food and were entertained by a folk-dancing ensemble. We were the only group there and so I couldn't weasel my way out of dancing. (I don't think I'm good enough to make the cut to go to the Song and Dance Festival.)

On Saturday, we went out into nature to "enjoy" the snow. I'm not particularly fond of trudging through the snow, but it was surprisingly fun. First, we took in some motorcross.

Next, we went ice fishing. I discovered that I am just as impatient with ice fishing as I am with regular fishing. I didn't catch anything, but the others caught enough for our lunch.

These guys are probably better at fishing than I am.

This is our lunch. Poor fish. I really don't like meeting my lunch before it is on my plate.

And here I am pretending to fish catching all of the fish!

The fish was great. It was cooked outside over a fire. Simple and delicious.


While we waited for lunch to cook, we took a sleigh ride. 

After lunch, Alexanders went for a swim. I stayed inside and took this photo from the window since my feet were frozen despite my two pairs of socks. Next time I tramp through the snow, I'm wearing the handmade pair I bought at a fair.

This post is brought to you by Tegan and Sara "Closer." This video makes me want to do karaoke. And chop off all of my hair.