Z Towers in Riga, Latvia. Interesting project lead by the SPI Group (vodka producer). The two towers will include office space as well as a four star hotel and some shops. The towers will be the tallest buildings of Riga. I’m curious for the final result!
Today I went to the former concentration camp of Salaspils, located around 20 kilometers from Riga. It was built during the winter of 1941/1942 under horrible inhumane conditions by Jewish men who were deported from the German Reich. Salaspils was the largest concentration camp of the Baltics, imprisoning many Latvians as well as political prisoners of different nationalities. Terrible medical experiments were carried out on children. I was touched by the amount of stuffed animals and toys placed at the memorial in remembrance of all innocent children. Now all that is left of the camp are the foundations of some barracks and statues, symbolizing hope and defiance. I strolled around the former camp for an hour or so, all alone. It was completely silent, except for the discreet sound system, which continuously played the sound of an immortal heart beat.
It has been almost 2 months since I updated my blog the last time. Many things happened and a lot of things permanently changed. This might sound a bit dramatic but I mean it in a very positive way. The last week of September I packed my orange Dutch-like suitcase again and headed to Bremen airport, accompanied by my dad who is so lovely to always bring me there. Destination: Riga. Again. I managed to arrange an internship there for the next 6 months. Before boarding I was, as usual, the lucky one to undergo all hardcore security checks. Even my bag and laptop were checked on some kind of bad prohibited substance I forgot the name of. Luckily everything was all right. While waiting in the queue I had a small conversation with an older German couple. They’ve been visiting Riga since 1991. A lot changed since that time. I already notice that when I compare the Riga of 2011 with the one I was introduced to in 2009. Riga is rapidly transforming into a city with Western innovations.
I started an internship at Riga In Your Pocket. This is one of the most successful city travel guides from the In Your Pocket series (if not THE most successful). Every two months a printed version of the guide is published and besides that Riga In Your Pocket has its own very informative website and app. I decided to apply at this city guide since it’s the only one in Riga providing true hearted information with a great sense of humor. If something is not 100% ok it will be written down in the guide, whilst other travel guides only publish the ‘this is the best restaurant in town’ reviews submitted by restaurants themselves. At the moment I’m responsible for providing pictures and movies which I upload to the world wide web. I absolutely love walking around in Riga, discovering even the smallest details of sights and unknown places I’ve never been before. Also rediscovering special locations makes a lot of fun. Last week I went to Sigulda, located in Latvia’s biggest national park. I made a video report about what all can be seen there and how beautiful the scenery looks during ‘Zelta Rudens’ – Golden Autumn. Even though my European Studies background didn’t really prepare me for a job in photography and video reporting, I must admit that I absolutely love this switch. I feel a lot more comfortable in this creative position than being busy with European policy reports all day long.
Besides the new job something else important changed. Felix and I moved to another apartment in Old Town. We live in a quiet street now in a small but cozy and stylish apartment. The eye catcher of our living room is a wall which dates back from 1300. I furthermore have my very own Finnish sauna now!
Together with Felix I went on a weekend trip to Kaunas, Lithuania. Some kilometers before Vilnius the bus suddenly stopped in the middle of the road. Smoke appeared in the bus, together with a horrible burnt smell. Passengers remained calm but shared some worried looks. The smoke was that disgusting that I had to put a scarf in front of my mouth and nose. After some minutes the smoke slowly disappeared and the bus drove on. The bus drivers’ assistant didn’t even mention through the microphone what went wrong. Typical Baltic. Luckily we arrived in Kaunas without any further problems. Interesting city. It was a Saturday afternoon and it was not too busy in the city centre. Even though there were actually some people on the streets it was absolutely quiet. I never experienced something like that in any other city. It was slightly mysterious. Something which later on surprised us is the fact that we saw so many smiling happy Lithuanians. In comparison with Riga, people in Kaunas look a lot more happy. Also noticeable was that we hardly saw any Russians. The reason why we went to Kaunas the first place was a concert of Jean-Michel Jarre. It was wonderful to see him perform a fantastic live show once, since I’ve been listening to his music from my early childhood already. It ‘s a miracle we eventually got out of the bus in one piece again when arriving in Riga. It seems a true trend in the Baltics to overtake when it’s actually not possible. My frightened facial expression showed up several times again during the bus ride. Luckily not because I was about to puke, what’s normally often almost the case. Occasionally three cars/big trucks were driving all next to each other, even though there are only two driving lanes. Dangerous. Death rates on Baltic motor ways are extremely high and I understand why!
So, a lot of positive changes and nice trips the last weeks. The whole moving chapter was quite exhausting and stressy, however, it’s finally time to relax now (in the sauna!). Time to enjoy and to slowly focus on my future plans. What to do after my internship? Where? Do I want to do a Master programme next study year? What? Where? So many possibilities… Any suggestions? Bring it on!