Here’s a round-up of some of the other places around the web where you can read what I’ve been up to.
Thanks for the mention of my video post on A walk around the Harbourside in Bristol on the Carnival of the cities hosted at Family Travel Guide. The Harbourside is where the tall ships once moored along the quayside but now it’s a centre for leisure and pleasure, and I’ll happily take you round my favourite restaurants and cafes.
Thanks for the mention of my first podcast on Family Travel with Hospitality Club from Mr Travel Podcast himself, Chris Christensen at the Amateur Traveler on his episode featuring the Arab Gulf states with Gary Arndt from Everything Everywhere. Keep an ear out as I’ve got a couple more podcasts coming in the next week or two.
Posts at Europe a la Carte
As always, I’ve been doing my regular Thursday post over at Europe a la Carte with some great tips and articles on destinations around Europe.
A visit to the coastal town of Porec in Istria, Croatia - This was the nearest town to the Plava Laguna Resort where we were based during our stay in Istria, and there’s a lovely Venetian old town to wander around and the beautiful UNESCO world heritage Basilica of Eurphrasius, renowned for it’s glowing golden mosaics.
Some favourite things to see in Riga - I visited Riga with my family a few summers ago on a holiday that combined city sightseeing and a stay by the coast in Estonia. These are my recommendations for the best of Riga as well as those given to me by Riga locals who’ve visited me in Bristol.
Books to Inspire and enhance your European travel – I recommended a couple of travel compilation series, which have titles covering many of the destinations where you might be heading, such as France, Spain, Italy and Greece. Pick up one of these books for an ideal read to put you in the mood for the place you’re visiting with travel stories and short stories set in your chosen destination.
Climb to Dome of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome - It’s an amazing experience to climb up inside the Dome of St Peter’s and see the gorgeous mosaics close up, then up the narrow enclosed staircase to the top for 360 degree views of Rome and the Pope’s back garden. I wouldn’t recommend it for the claustrophobic though.
Be a Religious Tourist in Rome - As a good Catholic girl I explored some ways you can feel the pilgrim’s experience and connect with the spiritual aspects of Rome, as the home of the Catholic church.
News and Resources
I was e-mailed recently about Soekershof, an amazing botanical garden full of cactuses, succulants and mazes in South Africa. I haven’t visited South Africa, but if I get there it will be on my list to visit – it’s near the town of Robertson, 2 hrs from Cape Town.
I read on Soultravelers3 about Roomerama.com, a website to rent a room or appartment for a short period in major cities like London and New York – what a great alternative to a hotel.
I’ve written before about meeting the locals in Valencia through Hospitality Club, a social networking site that links travellers looking for accomodation or local knowledge of the places they visit. This weekend we’ve been hosting Matiss, a student from Riga and it was my turn to show him some of Bristol’s landmarks.
Always ready to research places to visit I asked Matiss to give me his list of top things he would recommend to a visitor to Riga and here are his suggestions.
Old Town Riga
Wander round the cobbled medieval streets, there are plenty of bars and cafes to relax in. You can start in Town Hall square and see the impressive House of the Blackheads, then visit the free Museum of Occupation . When we visited Riga a few years ago our whole family enjoyed the museum – you can take a virtual tour of some of the exhibits, such as the felt boots and fabric face masks worn by political prisoners to keep out the cold here.
A view from St Peter’s tower
Take the elevator to the top of the tower of St Peter’s church in the Old Town for a great view of the whole of Riga.
Favourite bars and clubs in Riga
The places that Matiss likes to hang out with his friends are;
Cuba Cafe at Jauniela St,15 for coffee and snacks in the day and cocktails and music in the evening all with a Latin American theme. Free WiFi and a chance to try out your salsa some nights.
John Lemon Bar at Peldu, 21 is the place where arty types go for light meals, wraps, pizzas and breakfast all day.
Just opposite at Peldu 26/28 is a popular alternative nightclub called Pulkvedim Neviens Neraksta (Nobody writes to the colonel)
For a bar with a great view of the city try the Skyline bar at Reval Hotel Latvija, although Matiss said that the prices are higher than his student budget will normally allow, so he sometimes goes up just for a look.
For something a bit more off-beat, you could visit the Andrejsala neighbourhood of Riga which was an industrial area by the docks but now houses venues for art and music – apparently there are some great music clubs and street-art here – read more about the redevelopment of the area in this article. You can walk there in 15 minutes from the centre.
A trip to the seaside at Jurmala
Since the 1930s this seaside resort near Riga has drawn holiday makers and in the Soviet era became a popular holiday destination for Communist Party officials. It was famous for its spa treatments and healthy outdoor activities. Nowadays there are plenty of activities around the beach, restaurants and cafes and concerts in the summer. There are regular trains or buses to Jurmala from the centre of Riga and the journey takes 30-40 minutes.
And if you are travelling with children I’ll add a recommendation of my own, that you visit the Livu Aquapark which is just outside Riga in the direction of Jurmala. We took our children there a few years ago
and they spent many happy hours there on the waterslides.