How living in Latvia has changed me

Now that I can see the light at the end of my Latvian tunnel, I’ve been thinking about how I’ve changed over the last few years as a result of living here. Here’s what my profound thought process has come up with:

  • I’m now a bit like that kid from The Sixth Sense, except I see leopard print.
It's even got whiskers...

It’s even got whiskers…

  • I’m used to emailing into a black hole. I don’t waste time on niceties any more as, 90% of the time, I get nothing back anyway.
  • I’ve realised that top-loader washing machines still exist.
  • I have been known to ‘correct’ Latvians when they refer to Latvia as being part of Eastern Europe.
  • I rinse my dishes more thoroughly.
  • At the supermarket, I put potatoes that come in a mesh bag into a plastic bag. Or at least I do now, after nearly giving the cashier in Elvi a heart attack on Sunday evening.
Lesson learned.

Lesson learned.

  • I’ve definitely become tougher. But hopefully not colder or harder, even though I might look it when walking around. It’s good to try to blend in.
  • I wear heels less and less – I don’t want to blend in that much.
  • I suffer from extreme bouts of ‘path rage’, mainly due to pedestrians who treat the pavement like a jousting arena, and drivers and cyclists who treat it as a Formula One track. My ‘path rage’ can range from foaming strings of obscenities to hitting a car with my handbag. (After seeing my life flash before my eyes, decorum went out the window as my handbag nearly went through it.)
  • I now have a drawer of bags. I’m not sure why.
They might come in handy?

They might come in handy?

  • I use the words ‘normal’ and ‘concrete’ in ways that I’m not sure are entirely correct any more – too many things sound ‘normal’ to me now…
  • I think of my friends from Ireland as pork mules. My good friend, Julie, is now ‘Mulie’ in my head. My other friends’ names don’t rhyme as well, unfortunately. (Note to self: must find friend called ‘Bossage’ or something similar…)
  • I believe that drinking the sap from birch trees is a perfectly acceptable thing to do.
  • I have become the master of avoiding ‘Door Dominoes’. Door Dominoes is when you’re behind 4 or 5 people – Latvians – leaving or entering a public building through a swing door. The first person lets the door swing in the second one’s face, who in turn falls back into the third one, and so on.
  • I’ve become a blogger. Sorry about that. (Not really.)

On the flipside, here’s how living in Latvia hasn’t changed me:

  • I still don’t wear leopard print.
  • I have never been to a Latvian sauna.
  • I have never picked berries or mushrooms in the forest.

However, before I leave, I might try to rectify one or two of these oversights. I just haven’t decided which ones yet. Any ideas?

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About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Culture and Traditions, Expat, Humor, Humour, Latvian people, Rudeness, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

171 Responses to How living in Latvia has changed me

  1. Pingback: Twitter Spotlight: Linda O’Grady | OneChicklette

  2. But of course Latvia is part of Eastern Europe: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2012/10/13/lithuania-eastern-europe-or-not/ (The article refers to Lithuania because I wrote it when I lived there, but all the arguments apply equally to Latvia.)

  3. Kris says:

    I love your articles ! I was just wondering would you wear pyjamas and onesies outside which are quite popular in Dublin ?

    • Expat Eye says:

      No, I never got that ‘trend’! I’m a fan of pyjamas indoors though 😉 Onesies are just not practical on a number of levels 😉

  4. Kristine says:

    Go berry picking! Or sauna. It might be too early to go mushroom picking, especially when you consider leaving in September. Please don’t wear leopard print. Unfortunately, this trend has invaded Ireland as well, as i had to run away immediately after taking a peek at my local H&M and River Island.

    • Expat Eye says:

      I noticed that last time I was home 😦 I won’t spend money on it, that’s for sure. If someone wants to buy me something as a joke, then I’ll wear it – once 😉 Yeah, I think I’ll be gone before mushroom season!

  5. LigaFromRiga says:

    Have you read this? http://matadornetwork.com/abroad/how-to-piss-off-a-german/
    Out of context but had to share 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha! I love that! And will definitely come in handy when I move there! Hopefully I won’t piss off the Germans as much as I did the Latvians 😉

  6. I totally agree! No matter where you are from and where you move to, being an expat changes you! I am a Canadian currently living in Taiwan and I know first-hand all the things I have gone through to adjust to my new home. Love your post and I, too, still have and use a top loading washer!!!

    • Expat Eye says:

      It took me a little getting used to but it seems to work just as well! I thought they went out of style in America in the 60s 😉 Thanks for stopping by and for following! Linda.

  7. Glynis Jolly says:

    If I were you, which I know I’m not, I’d pass on those first 2 you haven’t done. My style isn’t leopard so why wear it at all. A sauna is a sauna. You can wait to do that one when you get home.

    The third one, however, may be worth a shot. Although there may be forests, berries and mushrooms at home, it would be a relaxing way to spend some time.

    • Expat Eye says:

      The Latvian sauna is different to every other one in the world – of course 😉 If it ever stops raining, I’ll do the berry one!

  8. rower says:

    can not remember right from top of my head, still:
    your thoughts and ways when You have been living in Latvia (Riga) too long :
    * you see 3 cars at red traffic light and think “heavy traffic”.
    * you see a smiling person and think “bloody foreigners!”
    * everything above 50m of sea level seems like a mountain.
    * your usual meal has to contain either potato or meat. or both.
    * you put an “s” or “a” at the end of foreign names (according to gender), so you can conjugate them.
    (okay, then i got exhausted trying to remember and found a good listing on blogspot).

    🙂

  9. Oh, please do go to a sauna. I would love to read about that in a future blog post. 🙂

    Why did the cashier want you to use a plastic bag when the potatoes were in a bag already? I think I’d make the same faux pas.

    When have you scheduled your escape, I mean, leaving date from Latvia? 🙂

  10. Anna says:

    It’s too early for a farewell post! I’m getting sad.

    Every Russian has a drawer full of bags. Even in America. I had pretty much nothing in NYC kitchen but I did have a full pantry of plastic bags. And I was so anxious to throw them out when I was leaving! Now I have a drawer like that in my office, from all the beer & snacks runs 🙂

    If you do not go berry- or mushroom-picking before you leave Latvia, I am not sure we can be friends.

    PS – I am writing this while wearing leopard-print ballet flats, sitting at the airport waiting for my Miami-bound flight. Having a beer with my salmon pie. It’s not even noon yet 😛

  11. Babs says:

    Only one drawer of plastic bags? Count yourself lucky – when I lived with a family in St. Petersburg their balcony was useless as it was used as storage for all their plastic bags! Bags of bags of bags….

  12. were you advised on allotting that drawer to plastic bags by a Latvian by any chance? If so I know a very logical explanation on why we – and in we I mean all of the post Soviet countries – do that. back when I was a kid any, like literary any plastic bag, was quite hard to get, but since they’re good for storage, etc. every good housewife learned to collect them and res
    use time after time until it fell apart due to heavy use or even repeated rinsing. Oh, I can still remember how cool it was when in the early 1990s things changed 🙂 But still many can’t shake that habit of keeping those damn bags just in case. On the plus side, if at least some part of those bags got used second time that’s already sort of environment friendly. So here you are 😀
    Oh, it also sounds like you’re really really are climbing some stairs out of Riga to… well somewhere with more smiley faces and less leotard like friendly Germany or something LOL

    • Expat Eye says:

      The Germans are great 😉 And definitely less leopard here! They might have a couple at the zoo. And I’m sure there are a few Latvians about but apart from that… 😉
      You rinse the plastic bags?!

      • no, not anymore, but back in 1980s everyone did – that hard those damn bags were to get. And since packing in plastic bags was way better and easier than trying to wrap things in some scraps of newspaper, etc., if one had some bags with no holes in it, one reused it time after time. Sounds unbelievable, but that was once true 🙂

      • Mārtiņš says:

        Gosh! You’ve caught us. In Soviet times – yes. People did it. And they were hung on the laundry rope with nice wooden pegs in a kitchen or outside.

  13. freebutfun says:

    I vote for a Latvian sauna, and while cooling down in your leopard print towel, you can get re freshened by picking a few berries. 😉 P.S. Pics of the leopard print towel are also mandatory.

  14. linnetmoss says:

    Go for the wild berries!

  15. 1WriteWay says:

    You could wear leopard print underwear. That way you can say you’ve worn leopard print without anyone having to see you wear it.

  16. Just a thought, but why not eat berries in a sauna while wearing leopard print!? I hope adapting to being back in a normal, non-leopard print world (or Germany, at least…) isn’t too tough!

  17. lafemmet says:

    If I were getting a CAT scan while reading this post it would have been very colorful. I had thought after thought. again, pardon my blog post in the comment section. 🙂
    1. Leopard print in my mind is associated with a bunch of old ladies in my church in California. It was all the rage with American Babas back in 2000. Can’t think of it being sexy. But I can see the LT women continue to wear it to the ripe Baba age. Then it would seem appropriate. The tall white boots may be a challenge at that point.
    2. We pick wild mushrooms and berries. and it is right nice! I did just learn that when you pic mushrooms if you want them to grow again, you should cut off the bottom.
    3. “Path rage” is something I just had a festival that packed the streets. An old lady was literally pushing her way through the crowd and was pushing at my back as if there was a way to move out of the way. When a hole opened up, instead of letting the rude old lady through, Me and the bulky stroller with little M swerved right in front of her. She stopped pushing my back.
    4. I walk around smiling and being friendly, Little M waves and smiles like a normal small child and people look at us like we are a bit off. We are. But I am friendly as long as you don’t push me. then the mean comes out.
    5. Do the sauna.
    6. I love that you are a blogger.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha! I love this comment! Yes, I’m the same on the streets – I’m perfectly pleasant until you cross me 😉 And yes, for me leopard print is also a bit ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ – nothing will convince me otherwise 😉

  18. Andrew says:

    Before moving to Strasbourg had not done the nekkid Sauna but went once to Baden (So good they…) and did the German sauna thing. Had a real complex about it in the changing room as it reminded me of the awfulness of getting changed for sports at school. When I did it though it felt strangely liberating and would recommend it. Great treat and you soon stop seeing the dangly or other bits. For me I was more struck by the women with a runway down there. I didn’t know it had become so prevalent.

  19. rower says:

    as many have already told you – you should try sauna. berry/mushrooms picking is just an early morning walk into forest (honestly, i would not risk picking mushrooms without someone really knowing what they are… no handbook gives true insight of what you can find. and jokes like “about every mushroom is edible, just some you can eat only once” have become a bit annoying), and as for leopard print… maybe you should buy some pajamas with that 🙂 okay, okay, i think it’s rather distasteful, too. just remember, no one really cares what you wear, as long as they do not see it.
    now, about that “sauna/bath” thing. i really doubt, you could easily find proper _Latvian_ sauna (much less, with proper bathkeeper and proper sauna-brooms. yes, pirtsslota is the correct term) – most are either Russian-type (hot (95-110°C) and relatively wet (althou not as wet as Turkish hamam) with large _cold_ or even icy water pool) or Finnish (really hot (120-130°C) and relatively dry, and no pool). true Latvian sauna is relatively mild (still, around 100°C) and less wet than russian one, still it has it’s share of steam. 🙂 pool is optional, river or small lake (supposedly ith warm water) will do much better. speaking about drinking in sauna… if you care about proper procedure (it’s 4-5-6 times “warming up”, 1 or 2 last times working out with those brooms, getting real sweat out of you) then mineral water and birch juice are almost the only acceptable choices _during_ the procedure. if you’re about the company — then it’s clearly another story, you might even get to extremes. however, imwho, heavy drinking in sauna is one of the last things to do – to much stress on liver and heart.

    and birch juice… freshlee squeezed… with peelings… omnomnom! who knowns how these canadians make that maple syrup ?

  20. barbedwords says:

    I must have missed the post about rinsing dishes as I didn’t understand – do people in Latvia rinse their dishes better than everyone else?? I really hope you will be taking at least one piece of leopard print clothing away with you, even if it’s a pair of under-crackers no one will ever see 😉

    • Expat Eye says:

      Maybe a leopard print dish cloth 😉 And yes, seemingly people in the UK and Ireland are very haphazard when it comes to rinsing their dishes!

  21. bevchen says:

    Oh god, even the vehicles have leopard print. Get out while you can!

    I’ve never been to a German sauna. I mean, the make you get naked! I don’t want to see naked old men…

    Keep the bags, you might need them when you move to Germany. (Actually, I may be the only person here who actually buys and then reuses carrier bags… the Germans either ALWAYS take an empty back pack shopping or carry canvas bags. It’s so much better for the environment y’know…)

    • Expat Eye says:

      I usually take an empty backpack with me too! I’m going to fit right in 😉 And I always have a plastic bag in my handbag – just in case 😉 If they try to make me get naked, they can forget it. I can close my eyes to the Latvians’ dangly bits but I’m not getting my bits out!! 🙂

      • Tidl says:

        In fact, in Germany it is FORBIDDEN to go into sauna with anything more than your towel which you would normaly use for sitting on it…. so basically everybody’s fully naked. it is also common to have mixed saunas and nobody seems to bother… except for us,nongermans lol

      • Expat Eye says:

        I can just keep the towel wrapped around me then – like a sweaty mummy 😉

  22. Linda T says:

    What I thought reading this: She’s spent so much time in a foreign country and all she got is leopard print? Is that the great revelation about people, culture, herself? Is that the great insight? Really? Really, really? You are definitely not ready to go home yet! 🙂 (Or just not the type of person) Anyway – I have found the result of your stress relief blogging enjoyable. Thanks!

    • Expat Eye says:

      I was trying to keep it light 😉 There are 132 other posts on all the other stuff! And I have no intention of going home! Glad I helped de-stress you a little anyway! Mission accomplished 😉

      • Linda T says:

        I was also not 100% sirius 😀 And, by the way – I don’t like picking mushrooms and have not done sauna the proper latvian way either (despite being a latvian).
        However, now I will go, have a glass of birch tree sap. Just got delivery to the ofiice!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Are you sure you’re a Latvian?! Looks like I’ll be sticking to tea this morning! Black with milk – sorry 😉

  23. Ansh says:

    And one more mindlessly smiling westerner becomes a normal human being. You are welcome.

  24. Baiba says:

    You must definately try the sauna. And one, where you are “beaten with sticks”:) I can tell from my own experience – I had done the thing with the sticks (they are actually more like brooms or smtg) only once in my life and now, that a health condition does not allow me to take saunas anymore, that’s maybe the only thing, that I miss. Especially now, when there are so many skillfull people, who just know the right way, how to do it, thay even make a sauna ritual with herbal tea etc. But from that one time I remember the moment, when after coming out of the sauna, where I was beaten with a stick (it feels more like a hot massage really), I went to the small pool and dived in. This moment is really the only thing, I have ever experienced in my whole life, that I could call “better than sex”. Literally. I would like so much to experience it again and it makes me sad, that I can’t. So try it, while you can.

  25. June says:

    “I see dour people. They’re everywhere. They don’t even know they’re dour.”
    Someone held a door open for me last week. It was so significant I had to report it to Arūnas when I got home!
    You should definitely go mushroom picking (assuming you like mushrooms) – there’s an element of danger distinguishing the safe from the unsafe. Plus, they taste bloody good!

    • Expat Eye says:

      I don’t like mushrooms 😉 So I guess it doesn’t really matter what I pick as I won’t be eating them! Yeah, I always tell people about ‘the time someone smiled at me’ or ‘the time someone opened a door for me’ – what’s seldom is wonderful… 😉

  26. Todd Rossman says:

    I’ve lived here 10+ years. Trust me: *do* the sauna. Usually ladies & kids go first since the sauna isn’t blazing hot, then the guys, then the gals, then sauna events diverge. There’s either a healthy family kind of sauna/pirts with a purification from the goo in your skin, and a warm euphoria that eases down into your toes, OR the other end of the spectrum is the wild party where everyone forgets whose turn it is, drinks are flowing generously, and towels aren’t necessary, really. My family’s friends in the country alternate female, male, and nudity is the norm. I remember one conversation with my son (5), my friend (same fatherly age as me), a retired pensioner, and a neighbor about whether black storks often came near – in the sauna. I think it was true and it’s still true that “everyone has seen everyone nude” in Latvia, not because of an active imagination but because it happens. Really. Be careful about alcohol since it can dash your brains quickly. I’ve gone in some that were mixed sexes, most not. Everything was just matter of fact, not titillating My Dad visiting from the US loved the sauna with a few sipped beers combo.

    It’s maybe one of those things that keep the few energetic working adults in the country rather than looking for prospects elsewhere. *do* *the* *sauna*!

    PS. How have I changed? I have a special device for opening the big huge juice jars with the flat lids, drink both maple and birch juice in springtime, get fresh country eggs, milk, cheese, (all versions of milk products), have learned A.) to humorously just stop walking to make a “charging Latvian Rage Walker” flinch and change course in a steely battle of wills, B.) that it’s OK to spend an afternoon chatting at a cafe with only two cups bought… and so much more! When will you be one of the departed?

  27. I am utterly sad to hear they will be loosing you 😦 but I understand you when you say “I can see the light at the end of my Latvian tunnel” – that is the best feeling 🙂 and was so reassuring for me in December to see that light and then leave. My home country is great and I hope will continue to just get better, but it can get way too difficult to live and enjoy life there if one is not ready to accept local standards, specially the low side of them – take your example of “door domino” and other “normal” things that in many cases will not agree with your personal ethics… To add to people giving suggestions – I would say – sauna in a forest refusing to do it naked (some Latvians will insist that this is the only correct way) and put on some leopard swimming suite, then berries and mushrooms (as berries are in summer, but mushrooms more toward fall). Best of wishes, greetings from Brussels (and please, keep blogging), Signe

    • Expat Eye says:

      Yeah, there’s no way I’m going to do the sauna thing naked! I might need to make a hasty getaway if it gets too much and I’m not running around the forest in the buff 😉

  28. I think you should do it all. I love the image berry picking in leopard print. Then crush the berries in a few shots of frozen Chopin or Van Gogh vodka (in the name of culture), down it, then off to the sauna to sweat it out. Next get beaten with the Birch sticks, Don your leopard skins, go home, sleep it off, wake up, pack your bags and close the chapter. Onto the next! Just a thought. (To me, wearing the leopard is by far the scariest of the three. The closest I ever got was the inside of a dressing room on a dare.)

    • Expat Eye says:

      I don’t know. I’m not a big fan or forests or saunas either. And the forests here have tics that can make you go blind – or maybe that’s just what they tell foreigners to keep them out 😉 Overall, I’d say the leopard print is the easiest – but also, by far, the ugliest!!

      • All great points! Then go for the leopard print, or not. I’m no one to talk. I was in Vatican City and brought the pope’s pharmacist frango mints from Marshall Field’s in Chicago, (It was a “Thank you” for sending me allergy meds.) But I never got around to seeing the Sistine chapel! Been to New York twice. Never Been to Ellis Island… and I’m alive and happy!

  29. You should rectify all three, and provide photographic evidence. Especially of the leopard print (I’m not so much interested in a detailed photo journal of your sauna visit, except for the nice, safe snaps you might happily show to Nan).

  30. Jude says:

    What’s wrong with having a ton of plastic bags? I have a ton-I use them for garbage, bringing lunch etc. so I see no problem with that one! My confusion is why the potatoes come in a mesh bag? Why do you transfer to plastic?

    • Expat Eye says:

      So the muck etc from the potatoes doesn’t go all over the conveyor belt at the till 😉 Yeah, don’t know why they don’t just put them in paper/plastic bags to begin with!

      • rower says:

        they do, just… there are a couple of reaspons, why not. first – mesh is cheaper. yes, these two cents per kilo are accounted somewhere. second, mesh is generally stronger than paper. third, in plastic bags potatos start to swet and … not good for your health nor for potato sales. and (of course) there might be other reasons, too.

  31. Mārtiņš says:

    P.S. I start reading your blog just this year. You mentioned birch sap, but what about kefīrs (my Scottish boss told me its name in English – a toxic drink) in Latvia? You can’t be indifferent to it.

    • Expat Eye says:

      I haven’t touched it since it first plopped into my tea when I got here. I’d bought it by mistake thinking it was milk 😉

      • rower says:

        by the way (just being curious) do you use yoghurt ? “technology” behind these two is pretty much the same – fermented milk with some kind of “milk bacteria”. btw, in russia they have a number of “sour milk” products – pahta, prostokvasha, ryazhenka… and it’s beleaved that these are really good for health. or wealth, i’m not sure.

      • Expat Eye says:

        I’m sure Russians believe a lot of crazy stuff 😉 And yes, I do like yogurt!

  32. Mārtiņš says:

    “I have been known to ‘correct’ Latvians when they refer to Latvia as being part of Eastern Europe.”
    You know, geographically we might in the cold North. But (my opinion) we share less with Scandinavians, Finns than with Russians, post-Sovietic area and mentality, way of thinking. Saying that I mean rather Eastern European than Northern.
    What else – man wear speedos (trunks are unfortunately becoming more popular among younger generation), gays still are prejudiced, it’s more popular how to bypass the law instead of how to obey it (when I asked in Helsinki if it’s O.K to go one stop by a tram without buying a ticket I was shocked how shocked she was after such a question; almost a criminal I was (this would be nothing out of usual here)), we’d rather know which is good vodka than wine.. This might be historical heritage from the USSR.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Totally agree with this! Swedish shops stop selling alcohol on Saturday afternoon and don’t start again until Monday. I said to my friend in Sweden – but surely there are some ‘illegal’ shops, y’know, like the ones there are in LV?’ She was like ‘THIS is Sweden’ haha!

    • rower says:

      this is historical heritage not only from russians, but from germans as well (if not more than russians). and for sure swedes have left here a little more than just protestant religion… language is a mirror of self-consistance, and hence – reflects many of its aspects. Latvian is much less slavic than Lithuanian, much more german than Nordic.. still, we’re really a unique mixture of cultures, influences and impressions. the last huge imprint has been left by soviet times (which is really different from russian culture… and you probably have noticed, there is much russian and much less culture) – which includes “we love our country, still we hate our state”. and that includes cheating the state in numerous ways. paradoxal, but Latvians do not have the distinct words for country and state, still, many still express the same feelings.

  33. Vika Nikitina says:

    I’d definitely try to pick some mushrooms or berries. Those were some of my fondest memories as a child. Then again, I’m not sure if Irish are that fond of either of those foods… 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      I despise mushrooms. Berries I like – especially in cakes 😉

      • Annette says:

        No, no, no, no, NO! Please don’t say such things about mushrooms! 😀 I highly recommend you to try it. It is very enjoyable and you can compete – which will get more mushrooms. (Eating them afterwards isn’t obligatory)

      • Expat Eye says:

        OK then, as long as I don’t have to eat them 😉

  34. It won’t be mushrooming season again till the autumn… so that leaves berries and sauna. BUT the good news is, you can go mushroom picking in Germany 🙂

  35. Tidl says:

    gosh, it all sounds like Belgium/France… except for that birch tree thing…

  36. Hi Linda, sorry to hear you’re leaving Latvia. I hope you had great time despite all of the complaints 🙂 I loved to read your blogs. Keep the good work on.
    Just wanted to highlights you about the leopard print. You are far behind world’s fashion styles. Especially the leopard print clothing etc. All of the celebrities in
    Ireland and England and rest of the
    World wear leopard print clothing. If you want the proof just go to GP’s or beauty salons or anywhere you have to wait to be called or served and you have a
    chance to read all of the many gossip magazines. I think you are for surprise there 🙂
    Anyway, the leopard print is not big deal 🙂 I am glad they are wearing something.
    I am wishing you all the best in the future wherever you go. You are wise and talented young lady and all of the good days and prosperity and is ahead of you.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hi Daila! Great to have you back again! And thank you for your kind words – but I’ll still be giving the leopard print a miss 😉 Google ‘Bet Lynch leopard print’ – that will always be my association with the stuff! 🙂

  37. Just for us: try a sauna wearing leopard-skinned stilettos and sipping on a birch tree cocktail. And get a film crew in. (Doesn’t everyone have a drawer of plastic bags> we’ve reached about 300.)

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha! My Latvian friend just said that her mum threw out around 500 of them that had accumulated! I must admit my mum has a stash too – I think people do it in any country that you have to pay for the bags! And I do like your idea… hmmm. 🙂

  38. Sharn says:

    Sauna and berries/mushrooms!!

    The first one is just too traumatic to even contemplate.

    At least with a sauna you’ll only be traumatised by other’s that are there and we’ll be entertained by the story =)

  39. Awww, you definitely need to try sauna and mushroom / berries picking up in forest!!!:)
    I started to smile about more careful rinsing the plates, as I was shocked how people in the UK can leave plates to dry with soap/washing liquid bubbles on!:)

  40. Sauna is no lose option. I am sure you’ll like it. Don’t forget to have few beers with snacks when you finish heating. This combination usually takes me to heaven. 🙂

      • Mārtiņš says:

        No. That’s Tasteless! A tin of beer in combination with sauna is something truly Latvian. But as you’re female the main thing is to accept men drinking in sauna, you may stick to sparkling Vichy.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Darling, the day I drink sparkling Vichy is the day… well, it’s just not going to happen 😉 More than happy to have a beer though – just hope all the Latvian men won’t be too shocked 😉

      • I was speaking about getting to heaven, not being nailed to ground. 😀 Vodka after sauna? You’re true hardcore girl! 😀 Personally I wouldn’t risk my health. (Yeah, yeah, now when I’m finally grown-up… 😀 )
        P.S. Average Latvian men usually don’t give even quarter of shit about women drinking beer at sauna. Well, except few showing-off smart-asses. 😀

      • Expat Eye says:

        And I have no problem taking them down 😉

      • Mārtiņš says:

        Are you against sparkling water or Vichy specifically?
        I consume it on a daily basis. Usually still. As Mangaļi is too mineralised, tap water not that tasty and Evian is too much for showing off (look at me, I can afford it! (a certain type of women who choose only this)) and French. Italians produce good ones but they are only in supermarkets.

      • Expat Eye says:

        I don’t like sparkling water. I buy still. I can’t drink the tap water in LV – it makes me nauseous.

  41. nancytex2013 says:

    Do the sauna. Just so you and I can compare horror stories from my Turkish Bath experience. Mercifully no one beat me with dried birch branches.

  42. rigaenglish says:

    Leopard print definitely. A pair of 6 inch leopard print peep toe heels with garish red toenails sticking out as you head off to do something totally impractical like sloshing around a muddy forest picking stuff you can easily get in the market. Add some falsey Freddy Kruger style pointed nails and you’ll finally have Baltisized yourself!

  43. plianos says:

    Haha funny and on the spot as usual. Imagine, I always thought the cashier ladies were just being nice by putting my mesh potato bag into a little plastic one for me.
    As far the one’s you havent tried, you might as go with the leopard print. Picking mushrooms and berries in the forest is really just like walking in a forest

    • Expat Eye says:

      NO! The bits of dirt and muck from the potatoes clog up the conveyor belt – or else maybe they have to clean it afterwards. Nobody likes extra work 😉

  44. Inti says:

    Haha everyone needs a drawer of bags! 😉

  45. laugraeva says:

    What does Birch tree sap taste like?

  46. lizard100 says:

    You have to so all three. Wear animal print while eating foraged foods in. Sauna!
    When do you finish?
    So many questions. Where next?

  47. Try the Latvian sauna. The leopard print and mushrooms/berries are things you can do back in Ireland to make you look cosmopolitan. 😉 Skipping the sauna would probably prove to be a bigger regret than giving it a try.

    And out of curiosity, is “Elvi” the plural form of “Elvis?”

    • Expat Eye says:

      That did cross my mind but I’m not sure! Latvians?? Sigh – one vote for the sauna. Leopard print = cosmopolitan now? 😉

      • LigaFromRiga says:

        Leopard print became popular (again?) in the UK last year. So I guess Latvians are a bit behind as usually. Nobody I know in Latvia wears it though.

        As for the sauna, bikini is usually ok if going there with strangers. Not perfect for your sweating skin though as they are not normally made of cotton. Or try wrapping a towel around.

      • Expat Eye says:

        I’ll go for bikini and towel 😉

    • snaipere says:

      No. The plural form is Elvji.

      • rower says:

        Elvises. ,-)
        “Elvi” is a supermarket chain in Latvia, and nobody here knows, why they’re called that way. Lithuanian ownership probably knows ?

  48. Daina says:

    Of the things you’ve not done yet, I think it’s best to leave the “wear leopard print” stone unturned. However, you should definitely pick wild berries!

    A Latvian-American I know who lived in Latvia for a year referred to the sturdier plastic bags as “Baltic briefcases.” Apt description, no?

    And, yes, I completely agree that the word “normaali” is completely overused in Latvia!!! Drives me nuts!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ah ha haha! Baltic briefcases! I’ve never heard that before – fantastic! And very true… I’m not even sure how it started. I think I have a problem.
      2nd vote for berries 😉

      • Daina says:

        Collecting plastic bags does seem to be some type of Latvian (or maybe post-Soviet) affliction. During a vacation some family members and I were renting an apartment in Riga from an older Latvian man. We needed to take out the trash, and replace the bag…plastic bags were not immediately found, but as the same friend said, “He’s an old Latvian man – he’s got to have a bunch of bags somewhere!” And – voila – moments later we found his stash: in a drawer, just like yours! 🙂

        Fresh Latvian berries are some of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. But I’m thinking you should also experience a sauna – such a Northern European tradition!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Just had a suggestion to do both together. While wearing leopard print 😉 Now that will be a post and a half!

  49. bmagpub says:

    Go for the berries – make sure you’re picking mushrooms – or at least edible fungii. After some of your posts, not sure about the hygene of the suana ;-). Have a great evening

    • Expat Eye says:

      And they beat you with sticks afterwards – that’s the part I’m not sure about 😉 Yeah, maybe the berries. Probably the safest bet 🙂

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