So Many Relatives, So Little TimeJune, 1999 — Our Latvian Honeymoon
neither of us would have suspected even two or three years ago that either of
us would be returning to Latvia, married to, of all things, a fellow
We'd been in Latvia at the same time before, overlapping vacations, but
it wasn't the same as really traveling together. The only mistake we made was
that, as most newlyweds, we did
miscalculate a bit on our first joined-at-the-hip
trip. If Silvija's relatives take her a week and a half for her to visit, and
mine take me a week and a half, at least, then, a week and a half would not be
enough for both of us together! We didn't think of that, so our vacation was
full of lots of running around and no sight-seeing this time, not even a day to
wander around Vecriga!
Of course, we still did manage to take pictures, a (scant
for us!) nine rolls of film, of family, of friends, and of places close to our
Click on the thumbnails to go to the next
Our home base was an apartment on Zaubes Iela, not far from the
center, but certainly a bit of a hike in the hot weather we seemed to have
brought with us! We were dying the day we walked to the Universalveikals
(Department Store) in Vecriga (Old Riga) to buy fans!
We spent one day traveling out to Koknese, east of Riga along the
Daugava, where Silvija's dad grew up. And yes, the heat was more unbearable
than ever! We did find a great little restaurant to stop at for food and cold
beer to revive us! Peters, our designated driver, had to be content with
sipping a tasty but non-alcoholic Multi juice.
For Peters, every trip includes a visit to Mordanga, where his mom
grew up, where the memories of his family are still centered. It was a bit odd,
not visiting with his mom, who was still back home recovering from her last
trip. This time, he visited with just his cousin, Gaida. (Silvija stayed home
to keep her dad out of trouble!) Their first stop? One of the local greenhouses
to pick up a trunk full of flowers. Gaida planted while Peters measured broken
windows. Sadly, no one seems to have time to look after the old mill house;
yet, at least during this visit, there were some unmistakable signs of progress
Among the highlights of our trip was Silvija's goddaughter's (and
cousin Anda's daughter!), Kristine's, birthday. Some things, we found, have
universal appeal, regardless of language or culture. Both children and adults
were quite taken by... the Furby! It's not exactly as traditional as a drop
spindle, but it is one of the more unique ways of learning English! Then
there is the problem of how, exactly, to tell the
Furbish apart from the English if you don't speak either! Ooops!
Proving you can kill two birds with one stone, we
(Silvija, Peters, Silvija's sister Inara, and family friend Janis) headed out
for Kandava, in Kurzeme, to visit one of Silvija's mom's school friends
originally from Liepaja. And then, on to Kuldiga, Peters' father's home town to
drop off some plans he and his mom found to family property. It's been slow
going, but then patience is something one learns quickly in navigating the
administrative corridors. Nothing happens quickly, and everything requires
We also stopped by Vecaki, in the suburbs on the Riga Gulf coast,
to say hello to Peters' cousin Gaida, her two sons Arno and Maris, and their
families, as well as the eldest matriarch of the family, Peters' uncle's
Oswald's wife Erna, who celebrates her 96th (!) birthday this year. Sadly, we
also got the news while we were visiting that their next door neighbor, Olga,
also a relative, passed away suddenly. She had sold the land their house was on
to Peters' cousin Vija (Gaida's sister) when they needed a place to build a
house after returning from Siberia. A reminder to spend our days wisely and
It's not quite true that we didn't get out at all. We did make it
to the casino a couple of times. Souvenir shopping was more a chore than
entertainment because of the heat. But, we still managed to see at least one
new interesting sight. And we also made it to the Alus Seta restaurant in
Vecriga for a filling meal and good conversation.
It's not easy keeping up with two sets of relatives! Two visits
Peters absolutely had to make were, first, to his mother's cousin Arturs, who
lives with his wife Lena in the Vidzeme countryside, in Alsviki, just southwest
of Aluksne. That's all the way up by the Estonian and Russian borders. The
visit also included stopping in at the Aluksne cemetary to pay respects to
Arturs' mother, Minna, who, like our parents, had escaped to America and had
been like Peters' grandmother to him. The other—and more important, if
it's at all possible to rank these sorts of things!—was to check in on
Peters' aunt Laura, who's house sitting for Gaida in the Bolderaja suburb while
Gaida's back in Vecaki and Arno and Ester (and Bruss) are also in Vecaki for
the summer. We made it to Laura's the last night we were there, things were so
- June 1999, "Honeymoon in Latvia!"—devoted to friends and family.
- Our home base was Zaubes iela, in an apartment Silvija's parents had rented on several occasions
- Our day trip to Koknese, where Silvija's dad grew up and reclaimed land
- Without a visit to Mordanga, Peters' visits to Latvia are never complete
- We celebrated Kristine's birthday at Ruses iela, where there was fun for everyone!
- Old family friends in Kandava and business in Kulidga, made for another pleasurable day trip
- A visit to Vecaki, to drop in on Peters' side of our newly doubled extended family
- Riga, no better place for good food and good friends!
- We visit Peters' mom's cousin in Alsviki and sister in Bolderaja, there's no more pleasurable chore than getting to see all the relatives!
- It's a wrap, all too soon we head for home
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