Like Latvia, or else…

Latvians have this quirky little habit of overselling everything that is Latvian. Everything from the crumbling charms of Kalnciema Kvartals, to the ramshackle one-horse town that is Pavilosta, has been described to me as “stunning”.

Stunning?

Stunning

Actually, it’s probably advisable not to tell Latvians where you’re going ahead of time – they’ll get your expectations up far too much over something that is probably “fine” or “nice”, at best. A Swedish friend of mine recently suggested adding “for Latvia” to the end of every sentence to keep excitement suitably dampened.

Sven: How’s your curry?

Me: Yeah, it’s pretty good – for Latvia. 

*

Sven: How was the service?

Me: Yeah, it was pretty good – for Latvia. 

See what I did there?

However, nothing or nobody is guilty of overselling Latvia more than the Facebook page, If you like Latvia, Latvia likes you, the implication being , of course, that if you don’t like Latvia, or dare to point out a couple of things that bug you, Latvia will hang, draw and quarter you, then feed your shredded remains to the gangs of feral cats that roam the streets of Riga.

"I hear Irish women are tasty..."

“I hear Irish bitches are tasty…”

Now I get that it’s a government-sponsored page so they have to do their best at promoting the modest charms of Latvia, but this site is so saccharine-soaked and overly-optimistic that it almost gives me a seizure every time I look at it – sort of like a Latvian David Brent, on crack. Deivids Brants…

Here are a few little gems I just had to share. (I like it when other people suffer with me.)

Summer in Latvia is something truly unique. You can experience everything possibly imaginable – from rapid rivers and deep green forests, to vivid cornfields all over the country. (Twitches.)

We like to say that the journey is more important than the destination (except when your destination is Latvia, of course). This is exactly why there are so many ways to unravel the amazing sights of this wonderful country of ours. (Grinds teeth.) 

Have you heard about the Versailles of Latvia? We’re talking about the Rundāle Palace, of course. The 18th-century Baroque palace recently celebrated the completion of 50 years of renovation work. A truly magnificent site, it can undoubtedly be called the Versailles of not only Latvia, but the whole of Northern Europe. (Sniggers.)

Amazing, beautiful, gorgeous, welcoming and only 813 years old? Yes, your guess is correct – it’s the breathtaking city of Riga. (Keels over, clawing at eyes…)

There’s a thing we can say for sure – we, Latvians, really love our wildlife. From amazing lakes and forests to astonishing butterflies in all colours and sizes. (Silently weeps.)

Don’t get me wrong – there is some useful information on the site, and of course there are plenty of places in Latvia worth visiting. There’s just something about the peppy, super happy-clappy (frankly, very unLatvian), almost cult-like style of delivery that gets on my wick. It also results in readers getting dangerously over-excited:

Capture

Dude, put the Kool-Aid down…

If my blog can be accused of being overly negative realistic, then this site is definitely the antidote you’ve been looking for. In fact, it’s pretty good – for Latvia.

The amazing, fabulous, beautiful, gorgeous, stunning, breath-taking Rundale Palace

The amazing, fabulous, beautiful, gorgeous, stunning, breath-taking Rundale Palace

 

 

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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 Humor, Humour, Latvia, Riga, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

154 Responses to Like Latvia, or else…

  1. Miko Shiko says:

    Poor Irish Jane!!! I am so sorry that you never met normal Latvian men and that your “visit” in this crap-country have turned out so bad. Shame, that something kept you here for umm 4 years??? Poor, poor you… at least you are in a better place now, the great and civilized Germany! But I’m sure that it’s not half as hood as your own beautiful super-green island, only full of Latvian trash, thanks god they are over there, we sure don’t need them here..

    • Nerdator says:

      Crikey, way to prove the point of the post!

      • BerLinda says:

        Wasn’t it just 😉

      • BerLinda says:

        Poor highly-sensitive Latvian 😉

      • Miko Shiko says:

        There’s something higly-sensitive between your legs

      • BerLinda says:

        Just when I thought I couldn’t be any happier to be out of Latvia, you come along. And the word that you’re dancing around is ‘cunt’ – it’s a good word. It works on a number of levels.

      • Nerdator says:

        There’s something higly-sensitive between your legs

        I don’t think there are many people who don’t have anything highly-sensitive between their legs. Are you one of them (I can’t imagine, why point out this fact otherwise), by chance? Bless you, my dear!

        Or are you a full-grown ninny with the wit of a kindergartener proudly declaring: ‘you’ve got a hoo-haa-wee-wee there! Ha! I’m right and you’re a poopy-head!’?

  2. Nerdator says:

    I actually wouldn’t agree that Latvians (non-ethnic) are inordinately crazy about everything (or anything) here. I know that you’ve been here for a long time, but I somehow suspect that you’ve been subjected to a lot of people simply turning their tourist faces to you.

    As to the orgasmic nature of some of the text on that facebook page – I’d say it’s fine. You’re right: it’s these people’s job, and there’s obviously the necessity to promote the country for whatever it’s got – and sometimes you have to push it.

    The thing is, you’re not the target audience for these texts (and neither am I, or anyone in sound mental health who’s lived here long enough), so obviously it’s not hard to point out the bollocks in all of this. I, too, could spend the day sneering about the news, say, of the new National Library building opening: ‘the new building of the National Library of Latvia symbolizes a great deal for Latvians’ – sure, how much of a corrupt scheme to steal and mismanage money from the budget (like the on-site cleaners earning over 800 lats a month on paper – in 2008), how much of a money sink in general, how much of an ugly white scab on the face of the city it’s been year after year.

    But I do realise that the audience are the people who don’t know all this – and don’t need to. And looking from this perspective, I wouldn’t say that the texts there are too much of a failure. There certainly are great things to see in Latvia, so no utter disappointments (and I think most adult people should be at least somewhat immune to advertising pitches, so no exaggerated expectations either) – and more people coming here means more money for us. too.

  3. Janis says:

    you peasant

    The "Versailles of Latvia" lived up to the hype – #RundalePalace is a stunner. Best part? Hardly a tourist in sight. pic.twitter.com/UETWlDCjYj— Sarah Khan (@BySarahKhan) September 4, 2014

  4. expatlingo says:

    “… in Latvia.” Like Chinese fortune cookies where you always add “… in bed” to the end?

  5. and yet, they want you to help make with a yay-Latvia video. that’s funny. ps. how’s that going? i’m way behind on my reading.

  6. deni2s says:

    You should feel the real beauty of Latvia, and not the marketing bullshit for tourists. Unfortunately you failed in seeing the difference. Maybe you didn’t had the right persons around you who could show and let you feel some amazing things. It’s actually more about people who live here, and less about tourists spots.

    I have seen Ventas rumba and Niagra falls, and know that? You can’t compare two totally different things. BTW, Niagra falls are overrated too, if you would see them, in reality Niagra falls also are not so impressive as on marketing pictures and videos. Trip to Kuldiga once in a year or two with friends is never about destination. It’s about friendship, “green stops” at various places, landscapes, eating at some random place, feeling great after spending all day in fresh air and memories from previous trips.

    • Expat Eye says:

      I’ve been to Niagara – read a few posts before judging me. Let me guess – about to marry a Latvian woman? Comment again in 5-7 years. Not that I’ll give a shit because I won’t be here any more 😉 Best of luck dude; you’ll need it.

      • Ilze says:

        This is your biggest mistake – to assume that there is only one truth – your truth. And then bitch (as someone already said it here) about it. Funny how you have all the time kept complaining about how rude people here are.
        P.S. No need to explain that you have learned rude ways from us. I still can tell the difference between grumpyness and real rudeness.

    • Ilze says:

      I agree with you on that.

      • Evie says:

        What’s the point of trying to spoon feed your truth then Ilze? Is it because you’re better mannered that you can imply what’s rude and what isn’t? Smart people don’t walk around calling others idiots, if you know what I’m saying. Rudeness is an understatement for someone who can’t take simple criticism and find it necessary to reply to “good for you”. Perhaps dwell on exploring how the English comprehensive works in the first place. Your welcome 😉

      • Expat Eye says:

        For all I know, you and Ilze are the same person. 😉 Anyway, the statistics speak for themselves. I’ve already written a post on this, if Ilze had taken the time to read it. The statistics speak for themselves. And are perfectly evident as you walk around Riga. The city is practically empty – in my four years here, I’ve never seen it this bad. AND it’s Capital of Culture, so there really should be more people this year than any other.

      • Ilze says:

        Evie, I don’t see where I have called anyone idiot.
        My comment was to Linda’s comment to deni2s. The guy expressed his opinion and got a slap in his face: “about to marry a Latvian woman?” How is that a simple criticism? It is 100% pure rudeness in respect to Latvian women, knowing what Linda thinks of us, and to deni2s – even if he was going to marry a Latvian woman, does it make his opinion invalid?
        Why do I feel necessary to reply to something like “good for you”? Maybe because she feels necessary to reply to my observations with “are you from another planet?”
        You’re welcome too.

      • Evie says:

        Linda, I’m definitely not Ilze. I wouldn’t want to be 😀

      • Evie says:

        Actually, you don’t need to be a flicking social anthropologist like me to understand why Linda made that particular comment to Denis, it’s enough to read her blog and to be aware of what’s going on in general.
        Nothing rude about it considering the fact that these opinions are made upon the bare facts. Obvious, or not.
        Take a chill pill. And stop reading this blog if you can’t put up with it. Nervous cells do not regenerate, you know. Peace out.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Yeah, I never understand why people keep reading something that annoys them so much 😉 People are strange!

      • Ilze says:

        Dear flicking social anthropologist,
        may I suggest that you go and explore how the logic works in the first place? (Sorry, I stole part of your quote here.)
        And I can do whatever I want with my spare time, thank you very much.
        P.S. Have just returned from the centre of the city – yep, full. Of course, not by the standards of Shanghai or London but, then again, the Latvia’s total population has never been larger than that of some metropolis.

      • Evie says:

        Hummmmph … It’s not a quote you stole, it’s my phone’s auto correct.
        See, in the countries like this one I’m currently in, even phones have manners and therefore you read what you did not some ghastly nasty word I was trying but oh so miserably failed to get across to you. Never mind. Not that I haven’t tried to explain to you why I said what I did. And I really shouldn’t as you’re apparently gifted with tons of logic. Yet you still failed to get the message. It’s W L and at that I’m licking my fingers clean from Hot Hawaian (it’s Friday night, I’ve got a bad cold and a stinking headache). Kaut kā tā 😉

      • Expat Eye says:

        Hope you feel better – have some Balzams if you can get it. Doesn’t that cure everything? 😉

      • Ilze says:

        So in the end it turns out that good manners means opposing someone as a person instead of opposing his or her arguments in a discussion (I’m still musing on deni2s comment here in case you have forgotten). Didn’t know that. Good to learn. Muuzhu dziivo, muuzhu maacies.

      • Emmi says:

        o-oh we got some latvian catfight going on here) bring some pillows girls!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Yeah, I’ve bowed out 😉
        Pillows might be a bad idea – they could try to smother each other 😉

      • Evie says:

        Thanks Linda 🙂 it’s amazing what a few dozen of jalapeño peppers can do when smothered in tomato sauce and some dough. I’ve got Balzams, had that with chopped chili in, proper did all my pipes in. 😀

        To Ilze- ko gribēji, to dabūji! How’s it feel to get the taste of your own medicine? Btw, don’t bother replying, this time it really is rethorical question.

        No cat fights ladies (those that are LADIES) 🙂 I just don’t like people thinking they can go throwing shit at others and get away with it. Have your opinion but bloody dig what and who you’re talking about. Which Linda totally does.
        Hmmph… I wonder what heath and safety has to say about pillow fights. Are they safer than snot balls? 😉

      • Expat Eye says:

        I think just about everything is safer than snot balls 😉
        And hey, this is Latvia! Health and safety is not an issue 😉 Balzams – shudder. I’ve got a couple of mini-bottles to get through before I go 😉

      • Ilze says:

        Roka roku mazgaa.

  7. piskonts says:

    Bitch about it all you want – soon enough you will be physically sick from tamed, orderly Germany and a memory of our little cute stinking shithole will make you cry like a baby. There’s nothing more depressing than walking through a small German town on Friday night – no drunks, no vomit, no police, no nothing that gives meaning to misery called life.

  8. Linda, you’re killing me! This post is seriously funny – for Latvia!

  9. TRex says:

    Riga being designated Cultural Capital Of Europe for 2014. Takes the cake.

  10. Latvian says:

    Well, but I think I have seen a “Switzerland” in several other European countries… You will never guess where is the Switzerland of Latvia!

  11. Yeah…. you know I’m from the country that ran the “Where the bloody hell are you” campaign. We can use adjectives, but prefer if some of them are swear words and we like to take an accusatory tone. So I guess we have that last part in common.

  12. linnetmoss says:

    Poor feral kitties!! I guess the Latvians are not into spay-neuter. [Insert joke here.] But when do we get to hear about Berlin?

  13. bevchen says:

    Wow, they even manage to make corn fieds sound exciting 😀

  14. And Latvia’s winter is like the Greenland of the European mainland, I assume? Pristine white snowflakes falling in the crisp air…

    • Expat Eye says:

      It can be like that. It can also be dirty, grey and slushy with the risk of being speared by pristine 3-foot long icicles falling from the buildings 😉

  15. Perhaps they think that if they say something often enough people will start to believe it!
    Versailles of Northern Europe? Isn’t Versailles itself the Versailles of Northern Europe?? 🙂

  16. Emmi says:

    Amazing, beautiful, gorgeous, welcoming and only 813 years old? Yes, your guess is correct – it’s the breathtaking city of Riga. (Keels over, clawing at eyes…)

    There’s a thing we can say for sure – we, Latvians, really love our wildlife. From amazing lakes and forests to astonishing butterflies in all colours and sizes. (Silently weeps.)

    Im like WHAT? even if latvia was that great… isnt this tyle of praise incredibly cheesy? not sure if I would want to describe my own country like that in a travel guide. didnt they hire an english speaking editor for this? you know to make the whole thing sound a little more realistic? with the amount of british sexpats in the country they must have found at least one.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha! I don’t know if they can write 😉
      Yeah, whenever someone visits Ireland, I tell them I hope they have a nice time and silently pray that the Irish don’t do anything too weird. Then they tell me afterwards that they had a wonderful time and I breathe a sigh of relief 😉
      And cheesy is being kind I think 🙂

  17. Anna says:

    The scary thing is that while I was reading the superlatives, I kept thinking, “are we sure I didnt write this and just forgot?!”
    Also, are we going to that palace? :-DDDDD
    Also-also, I have 48 hrs and like… NOTHING is done for this trip. I still dont have Euros, clothing list, bus to Tallinn, ferry to Helsinki, tickets printed…

  18. NancyTex says:

    Well, in fairness, if they didn’t oversell it, who would go there? 🙂

  19. Cassandra says:

    I’m finding it hard to think of a more self-satisfied comment than “We like to say that the journey is more important than the destination (except when your destination is Latvia, of course).” WOW!

  20. Paul says:

    Latvians make their country sounds like a Disney movie clip – you know the one where sleeping beauty is dancing down the forest road with all the birds and animas smiling and singing her praises.

  21. June says:

    Major overuse of “amazing” – it begins to lose it’s impact on the 10th “amazing” description. At least they’re legible, though, I get so frustrated at the English on the Lithuanian Tourist website. It just looks so lazy – I imagine first time visitors must think the rest of the country is as disinterested in providing a good experience for visitors. I want to scream at them (and fix it) because it’s a wonderful place to visit and I want people to come!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Before coming to Lithuania, try to answer to yourself what you wish to see and do here.
      Hear how the land is praised by singing birds. (Um, what!?)
      You will see that the condition of roads is truly good here for travelling by car and that a train or a bus can take you to practically any place of the country.
      EEK! 🙂

  22. pollyheath says:

    Interesting, as a lot of Russians tend to undersell things. “Saint Basil’s? It’s just a cathedral” while foreigners fangirl all over themselves. But now I’m off to find the uber-peppy ‘Welcome to Russia!!!!1’ site. There’s got to be one.

    (I already regret looking.)

  23. HA HA HA! (struggles hard to get back on a chair after hard fall on the ground) Now that I’m back i can totally agree that Latvia almost always oversell their places of attraction and I’m speaking from my own experience here. On the other hand, their sales pitch do work for me, and I at least do FIND all of places of interest there is (not unlike some POI in Lithuania *deep sigh*). Though some of those POIs turned out just meh, and some were even nice or great IMO, in the end I did visit them, so go figure I’m yet another victim of successful ‘visit this unique place’ sales pitch. Rundale for example was great and if compared to Lithuanian ‘Versailles’ Rokiškis manor, it was so much more impressive and bigger. Pape Nature Park was, quite unfortunately, a complete bummer since Latvians forgot to mention that in order to enjoy most of park’s attractions you’re supposed to drive safari style on a real dirt track. Same goes with Kuldiga, if you read about town’s attraction online you’re learn about it’s awesome Old Town (which is OK), an old bridge (also really nice), a widest waterfall is Estern Europe Venta’s Rumba (really? widest? OK, but why FORGET to mention is 10 cm high or something. So in the end just so-so POI).
    But as I say, Latvians at least took the trouble to make sure their all real and questionable POIs are easily found by tourists. While in my own country I sometimes really struggle to get any real directions or where to find some of the countries POIs… 😦

    • Expat Eye says:

      Lithuania has a ‘Versailles’ too!? Sheesh – seems like there are Versailles Palaces everywhere! Kuldiga was one of the few places here that lived up to expectations for me actually!

      • Oh, yeah, we do have a Versailles over here too. Though our own is so small and laughable even on comparison to Rundale, that I really can’t see why the two are compared. Rokiškis manor is one of a few really well maintained palaces in Lithuania, it has a nice small park and all, but it’s just as much to Versailles as your Riga’s apartment is to a some top notch Pent House apartment is some super expensive place.
        Must agree about Kuldiga, it was a really nice place with beautiful Old Town and all, and I loved sand caves located near the town, but I just could not get the deal behind advertising the Venta’s Rumba as such a big deal. THAT waterfall was quite laughable. Weren’t it advertised as widest, I might have let it slide

      • Expat Eye says:

        I thought it was a beautiful spot, but yes, if you’re expecting Niagara, then you’re in for a let-down 😉 Appreciate it for what it is and you’ll be fine!
        Just Googled Rokiškis manor – looks very nice!

      • I was expecting, after reading all the raves about the waterfall, the Venta’s Rumba to be really big, so actually seeing it sent all of us into uncontrolled laugher. And for a year or so after that visit to kuldiga it has become our own private joke and anything that wasn’t as great as expected was referred to as Rumba 😀
        Rokiškis is a really beautiful place, but why it’s compared to Versailles I’ll never know. It could be successfully advertised for what it is – the best preserved and maintained palace in Lithuania, with most (if not all) of it’s buildings intact to the day. Must be some inferiority complex or something >_<

      • Expat Eye says:

        Small country syndrome – like men with small dicks who buy Porsches 😉

      • andrisbb says:

        Rokiškis manor looks not much bigger than my primary school – Suntazu pils 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha! Wow, that’s a pretty impressive primary school! 🙂

  24. We really liked Rundale Palace…. but not sure if it is the Versailles of Northern Europe 😉
    That stork nest out front makes it even more special 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      Yeah, I liked it – I haven’t been to Versailles though so can’t compare. I did meet a German guy at the bus-stop afterwards – he was like ‘The Versailles of Latvia? Pah!’ 😉

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