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Miami 2019

Hello friends!

Last trip of 2019. We got home yesterday and we spent one day on each side of our Panama trip in Miami. We originally had booked a Cuba cruise and got our flights from PHL to MIA. Since you’re no longer allowed to do cruises to Cuba we were stuck with our PHL to MIA tickets and needed to figure out where to go to fill the time that wasn’t very far and where we hadn’t already been. We chose Panama!

We got into Miami at night the first night.

We stayed at the Hilton Blue Lagoon near the airport and didn’t really do much considering it was Thanksgiving. Hilton is usually our 2nd choice for hotel after Marriott since we have so much status and points with Marriott. We used points to pay for this Hilton (AMEX points or Hilton points, I can’t remember.)

There are so many pictures and things to write about from Panama I’m going to do a few separate posts so it’s not just a jumble of pictures. We were in Panama for five days and then were in Miami again for a day before flying back yesterday to Philadelphia. 3 of our 4 flights weren’t that bad but yesterday’s landing into PHL was pretty bumpy.

Marriott Stanton on South Beach

This was the hotel we stayed at on our way back. We used Marriott points but still had to pay taxes and a resort fee. We did get 2 free baby margaritas and free breakfast and beach chairs. The things with more fancy hotels in the US is that it seems like you get less amenities for what you pay. If we had paid full price it was like $499 for the one night which really wasn’t worth it other than the location.

ANYWHO! We did actually walk around South Beach, laid on the beach, tried some Cuban coffee, and saw some Art Deco buildings.

View from our balcony on South Beach

After coming from Panamanian weather, Miami actually felt cold. In the morning it was pretty chilly too but then got pretty hot pretty quick.

On our way to Las Olas Cafe
This struck me as very “Miami”

If we had more time we probably would have tried to do some everglades tours and museums. We were pretty “beached” out after Isla Contadora in Panama. I think for us it’ll be important to have days for relaxation and swimming but also time for tours and learning and seeing new things. I thought I wanted all relaxation but I guess that’s not the case. Maybe next time we’ll try to do 70% travel, 30% vacation.

I’m just grateful we are home safe, my daughter had a lot of fun with my parents and sister while we were away, and now we can start planning our next trip to Disneyworld in May.

Safe travels!

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Thanksgiving, Packing, Travel Prep, & Unexpected Changes

Hello friends! Happy Thanksgiving!

I am a very last minute packer. I start two weeks early with little things and then feel good about myself that I’m so ahead of schedule then I don’t do anything else until the day after. We are leaving today for our first long trip as a couple again without our daughter. She’ll be staying with my parents and my sister.

Stopovers in Miami on both ends because this was supposed to be a Cuba cruise. It was round trip from Miami and we had already booked our flights. So when it changed and was no longer possible to cruise to Cuba we had to book another set of flights to and from somewhere that was possible to get to from Miami that we could see in about 4-5 days. We had already seen Costa Rica and several other place in that general vicinity so we chose Panama.

We got to my parent’s house last night and did 99% of the final packing.

We only check baggage when absolutely necessary and we are taking a bunch of sunscreen and bug repellent that we couldn’t bring in our carryons.

I’m finishing the book Targeted by Brittany Kaiser about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. There’s another one by Christopher Wylie that I want to read. And then I’m bringing Super Attractor by Gabrielle Bernstein for some positivity. I also have a bunch of magazines to get me through.

I have pretty hardcore flying anxiety . While we still fly, I’m a nightmare for my travel partner every time. So while I have big plans to read to distract me, who knows if I’ll end up reading before we actually get to our destination.

I’ve been reading about vacation vs. travel. We have mostly always done “travel” because vacation sounded boring. After the last few years of craziness, one half-country move and 2 cross-country moves, all I want to do is go on a vacation. I’m thinking this one will be half and half. I still want to wander around the city, trying new food, doing new things, taking in the local culture…but I also want to just swim in the pool or in the ocean and read my book and go to the gym and relax.

Since we were planning on doing some Panama Canal tours that include being on small boats and we may or may not go to the San Blas Islands, we got a dry bag and little covers for our phones to keep them from getting wet. We also got bug spray for going into the jungle and a lot of sunscreen because we are very, very pale and since I’m 30 I should probably start caring about keeping away from the aging effects of the evil sun.

Of course we have our extra charger, charging cables, and our power converter. I always overpack on clothes but it makes me feel better having more rather than not enough.

Since we got to my parent’s house yesterday we had time to hang out and then this morning we had Thanksgiving breakfast since we’ll be leaving in a few hours. Then they will have Thanksgiving dinner without us later on tonight.

We just watched the Netflix documentary Game Changers so we are going to start trying to cut out as much meat as we can and start to be more vegetarian. Travel is usually pretty difficult to maintain this so I’m not so worried about it when we travel but at home we’ll try to skip the meat. So this morning I only had coffee and pancakes with maple syrup. Obviously, the rest of my family does not subscribe to the no meat notion.

Thanksgiving is mostly just a day off for our family. We do cook dinner but it’s not so big as our family is mostly spread out. Christmas Eve dinner is really big and then we also celebrate Novii God (New Year) Russian style.

The original doughnuts from the Amish Market we went to…well…most of them anyways…

What’s the difference between the word doughnuts vs. donuts anyways?

Either way, we are checked in to our flight and hotels which eases my anxiety a little. There are high winds today so we’ll see if we get delayed. Fingers crossed!

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Washington D.C.

Ah, D.C. – the nation’s capital, the seat of power of the United States! D.C. is good if you only have a day or if you have several days. We live about 2 hours from DC now and have only gone once. We’ll probably go back in the next few months so my daughter can see it. It’s not very far from Philadelphia, NYC, or Baltimore and you can keep exploring South into Virginia. We have not done that yet and mostly stayed in DC and we stayed at the Hyatt over the Potomac in Alexandria, VA.

Arlington National Cemetery

We missed quite a few of the main things to do in DC. We didn’t go to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier because my feet hurt by then…yes, really. We went during the summer and just like Leslie Knope said, DC is a swamp town. An awesome swamp town, but in the summer, still a swamp town. The heat and humidity are pretty oppressive.

I would say fall is probably best or winter if you’re looking for a good deal. The cheaper time is actually the weekend. A lot of people come into DC to work during Monday – Friday and hotel prices can go above $400 but then on the weekend they are between $100-$200.

Cherry blossom season is apparently beautiful but I’m worried it would be way too many people. We ended up accidentally going during the same time as some motorcycle event and it was packed.

Driving in DC is not something you want to do if you can help it. Just drive to your hotel and park there. You can take their awesome metro or just Uber or walk.

Inside the Lincoln Memorial

We did manage to make it to most of the memorials. We saw the Capitol, Washington Monument, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the National Mall, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the White House, and a Smithsonian Museum. I can’t remember which one and there are many so you can’t really just go see the “Smithsonian.” We also went to the Spy Museum which was pretty interesting but probably for the older kid and up crowd.

The Dupont Circle area is pretty cool and you can choose from a good amount of different restaurants and bars. This is where a lot of embassies are. We stopped at the Latvian one of course but by the time we got there, it was closed. 😦

We also went to Georgetown Cupcakes of DC Cupcakes fame. There was a very long line but the cupcakes were good. Unfortunately, no pictures of said cupcakes.

Some of the stuff we missed out on and are on the list for next time National Geographic Museum, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Castle, the National Zoo, and the Jefferson Memorial (which we somehow missed). One thing I wanted to see but won’t be able to is the Newseum. They will close permanently on December 31st, 2019. So if you wanted to see that too, you have to do it soon. If you do, you can get 15% off tickets!

Do I really need to caption this?

We’ll probably try to head back sometime in the winter or early spring, pre-cherry blossom. I like exploring with less people and cheaper prices. There’s plenty to do for it’s own trip or if you want to tack it onto another vacation to any of the surrounding cities. Safe travels!

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Iceland

Picture warning! There are a ridiculous amount of mediocre pictures ahead. While most pictures of mountains and beautiful things never do justice to what is being photographed, it is even more so like that in Iceland. I couldn’t just pick a few pictures. And even if you see these and think, “Wow that’s beautiful!”, it’s even more beautiful in person.

We went to Iceland in March of…..2014? I think? The flight was super cheap from JFK to KEF. Like maybe $400ish a person? Just be aware; everything else is super expensive. They get you in with the cheap flights and then you can spend the rest of your money once you get there. They do reimburse the VAT on departure and we did get a little money back.

BAM! Already a picture. Adorable on the flight over.

It was a red eye…but a short red eye. So we left JFK at like 8pmish and got into KEF around 5amish.

Longish line at customs but it went pretty quick.
Adorable Icelandic money. Most everything is adorable in Iceland.
Yay a coffee place is open!
Everything in Iceland was delicious, even the really normal stuff.
I told you it was 5amish…

Once we took out money from the ATM, got breakfast and coffee, we stopped to get our car. We rented a Škoda which is a Czech brand of car as part of our package. It was basically a drive yourself tour. We got the car and hotels in the SW part of the island and southern Iceland.

We did go to the Blue Lagoon but have no pictures of it since we didn’t think about it. We were just carefree, childless people who wanted to enjoy the hot springs. They would have been great pictures too since it started snowing while we were in there. If you go to Iceland you pretty much have to go to the Blue Lagoon. Their packages aren’t really worth it I would say and I didn’t really like the restaurant.

After our meal at the Blue Lagoon.
Random sandwich that cost like $15 but was so effing good.
Adorable.
Adorable.

I love almost every place we go but Iceland is my husband’s favorite place we’ve been to by far. We’ll probably go back in the next few years and take our daughter.

Near white out conditions. Thank God for the little yellow sticks that show you where the road is.

Driving was actually pretty easy in Iceland. The Ring Road goes all the way around (go figure). However, a lot of it was impassable due to it being March but for where we were driving it was fine. There isn’t much traffic and cars pass with care and I think people could tell we were tourists so no tail gating or angry honking like you might get in the States.

Unreal. It was soo windy up here, almost comically so.

One thing we like to do in other countries is to go shopping at a local grocery store instead of going to a restaurant. You can sample a good variety of things local people eat, it’s cheaper, and sometimes you just want to grab a bunch of snacks and go back to your hotel and watch Netflix before you pass out.

Oh, you know, just normal views from the hotel restaurant, nbd
We aren’t even close to done with the pictures.
More crazy views…
Open Air Museum
Black sand beaches of Vík – it’s the Southernmost village in Iceland. The sand is actually made of lava.
We got a bunch of random stuff to try which totaled approx. $1.3M

We did try the fermented shark. It’s in the little dish with the Icelandic flag. They give tourists tiny cubes to try. I didn’t think it was that bad but it was probably because it was tiny cubes and you couldn’t really smell it that way.

People legit leave their sleeping babies in prams outside the cafe when they go in.

I will also touch on this fact that Iceland felt super safe. No matter where we were or what time we had zero problems.

Hnnghhh, the hot dog stand.

The hot dog stand deserves its own paragraph. It’s probably the cheapest food you can get in Iceland but it was so.effing.good. They have some type of delicious sauce and fried onion pieces I think? Whatever it was, it was good.

Well that’s it. If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I hoped you enjoyed our Icelandic adventure mostly through pictures. One thing we didn’t do that I would do next time is go to the Penis Museum. Yes, they have one. We’ll be back Iceland!

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Victoria, BC

This was the last long weekend trip we did before we moved back from Seattle. I think slowly writing about our trip West will help me process it. We left family on the East Coast for my husband’s job in Seattle. I didn’t take it well, especially with a small toddler, being alone made me anxious and homesick and it made me hate Seattle. Now that I’ve had time to process the whole experience I think I was unfair to the Pacific Northwest. I always knew it was beautiful and now I can appreciate it more now that we’re back. For us, it’s more of a “great place to visit, don’t want to live there.” I’ll come back to that more in another post.

Victoria, BC is usually the last stop on cruises to Alaska. I thought Victoria was adorable. I enjoyed the ferry ride from Port Angeles to Victoria. It only took an hour or 2. The longest waits were customs. It was also longer since we drove our car on as opposed to just walking on the ferry.

For some reason I found the border crossing from Canada back to the US is way worse than going into Canada. Probably cuz Canada’s so awesome.

We hung out on the beach while waiting for our ferry. Later we got some delicious fish and chips right before boarding.
We were first – woohoo!
It was pretty choppy. If you get seasick I might suggest some Dramamine if you’re taking the ferry.
View from our hotel room. Rain, of course.

We stayed at Coast Victoria Hotel & Marina by APA while we were in Victoria. Their restaurant was very good but pricey. Good thing the US Dollar is doing better than the Canadian dollar. Obviously any seafood would be my first choice.

Fisherman’s Wharf

There wasn’t almost anything open at Fisherman’s Wharf when we were there. I’m not sure if that’s just how it is a lot but there were shops and stuff there. We were there in May so maybe we were just a little too early.

BC Parliament Building
Royal BC Museum
We saw a few *actual* bears in the PNW
Irish Times Pub – beer flight and later fish and chips…again
Saying goodbye to Victoria back to Port Angeles and then back to Seattle.

About 2 months after this trip we moved back to the East Coast. If you’re in Seattle you can do Victoria in a day trip or one overnight. Or if you’re planning any type of Alaska cruise you will be able to fit everything in in the time you’re given on the last day before docking in Vancouver or Seattle. I heard that all foreign-flagged ships are required to dock in a non-US port at least once on their itinerary.

You can also include this on your itinerary if you’re doing a PNW tour or just a BC tour that you could also include Vancouver and Whistler. If you venture further into Canada, Calgary is a cool place to stop. Overall, include it on another itinerary, it’s too small to make a special trip for from somewhere other than the PNW. Safe travels!

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Costa Rica

Going down memory lane here since next week we are leaving for Panama. V and I went to Costa Rica a few years before we had my daughter. This will be our first lengthy trip without our daughter but I’m excited since we enjoyed Costa Rica so much. We got to San Jose Airport from Philadelphia International Airport with a layover in Miami. We also have a layover in Miami that we turned into an overnight both ways since it would have been cutting it too close otherwise and I wanted a little bit of time to explore South Beach this time.

I mentioned before about changing how we travel. When we went to Costa Rica I was trying to find a bunch of activities to jam our day full – going to the beach and lounging at the pool was simply too boring. Now, I find that’s all I want to do. I wish I would have slowed down a little more when we were in Costa Rica but hopefully we can redeem ourselves in Panama.

Costa Rica’s colón (their currency) is beautiful and even has my favorite animal, the sloth on one of the denominations.

I wanted so badly to see/hold/escape with a sloth in Costa Rica but alas, it did not happen. I’m holding out hope for Panama.

More jungley, mountainy beauty. I felt like my camera kept fogging up going from subarctic AC to the heat and humidity outside.
The World Cup happened to be playing and a lot of hotel staff and guests got really into it. Watching soccer is so much more fun outside of the US.

We stayed at the Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort while we were there. It was beautiful – the pools, the landscape surrounding it, everything. I can’t speak about the Golf Resort part because there aren’t many things I find more boring than golf. We almost always stay at Marriotts because we use points there and usually don’t end up paying much out of pocket. My husband used to be a consultant so he racked up a lot of points that we could then use.

A cute little shopping center with restaurants near the resort
Um what?
Midway through a delicious lunch on our way to Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio
A beach in Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio

Since we weren’t close, we had to use a tour company that took us from our resort to the park and then we walked through some jungle and got to this beach where we spent most of the day. We ended up sunburnt because I was young and stupid and didn’t care about sun protection.

There’s even more to do in Costa Rica that we didn’t get to do. We didn’t really explore San Jose. You can take surfing lessons, which we didn’t because I’m irrationally afraid of sharks. I did a surfing lesson in Morocco but now I think I’m less of a risk taker.

I think we’ll be able to have a more relaxing time in Panama than we did in Costa Rica, trying to cram our day full of stuff. I hope you enjoyed my, let’s say, less than professional photography and hope that you get a chance to go to Costa Rica one day.

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It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

One of my favorite shows and also happens to be my favorite city we’ve lived in in the US. We don’t live too far from Philly now and, in my opinion, remains a great city that isn’t as overwhelming as NYC or Chicago. Philadelphia is pretty sprawling, you have Center City and Old City area where a lot of the historical and touristy stuff are and then you can go to NE Philadelphia which is essentially Russian Philly. It feels more like a suburb rather than being still in Philly.

City Hall

I never get tired of seeing historical buildings and landmarks.

Masonic Temple
Traditional Philadelphia Row Houses – Philly is very pretty in the fall

These pictures are over several years so that’s why it may show different seasons. There is plenty to do during each season.

Eastern State Penitentiary – former prison and most definitely haunted

Eastern State Penitentiary was super interesting. We did the guided walking tour (using an audio guide) narrated by none other than Steve Buscemi.

The daytime tour is open year round but during October they also do a haunted house at night. Every year we plan to go but it never works out. I’m hoping 2020 will be the year.

Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

This museum is pretty interesting. My sister actually went to Drexel University for law school.

Just outside Independence Hall where the entrance for the Liberty Bell is
The Liberty Bell….historical and cool but overall just a cracked bell….good thing it’s free to see
Mix of old and new
Elfreth’s Alley is a historic street in Philadelphia, dating back to 1702. *Thanks Wikipedia!
Philadelphia Christmas Village a few years back
Inside Penn Museum
Near Chinatown with the help of an Instagram filter
Inside the Mutter Museum, full of medical oddities…You can’t take pictures inside…but I have.. +100 sneak points
Yes, you can go inside the US Mint, it’s OK and it’s free so if you have the time you might as well…
My daughter, E, at the Ikea in South Philly…or maybe it was the one near Norristown….either way, we love both the IKEAs in the Phila area
Inside 30th St Station

There’s a Russian banya just outside of Philly in Southampton, PA. http://www.southamptonspa.com/

In NE Philadelphia (Bustleton area) is where all of the Russian/Georgian/Uzbek stores and restaurants will be. We usually shop at Net Cost when we are in the area, we like it a little more than Bell’s Market.

Philadelphia is a much more compact city full of history and charm that you can do in a few days. Fall is a beautiful time to go, winter can be harsh depending on where you’re from and in the summer you can go to Spruce Street Harbor Park. It’s also only about 2.5 hours from NYC, 1.5ish hrs from Baltimore, 2.5ish hrs from DC and 1.5 hrs from Hershey if you’re looking for a day trip from any of those locations. You can also get to the Jersey Shore in about 2 – 3 hours depending on which shore point you’re trying to get to.

Philadelphia is tied with Chicago for my favorite city in the US right now but I think Philly is a lot more doable in less time. I hope you get a chance to go!

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NYC – Fall 2019

Ever since having my daughter 4 years ago, we’ve lived in 3 different states, been through 2 cross country moves, and travelled quite a bit. I’ve found that the way we travelled before having my daughter and now is quite a bit different. We used to power through to see as much as we could, bounce from country to country, take overnight buses/trains, the bigger the cities were the better.

Now I’m finding myself annoyed by bigger cities. My husband, V, and I went to NYC last month by ourselves while our daughter stayed with my parents. I was so excited because we hadn’t been to NYC in a few years. I find the closer you live to NYC the less often you go. Unfortunately, the shine quickly wore off. We started talking about how we have to start changing the way we travel. The cost, the amount of people, the traffic – it was just too much this time.

Traffic

We went to some touristy places and wandered around some cute neighborhoods we hadn’t explored much before, like the Meatpacking District. On a whim (also at brunch time on Sunday) we were going to pop on over to Dominique Ansel Bakery for some pastries. As soon as we saw the line we were over it. I’m all for travelling for good food but my patience is starting to wane for these type of things if it involves going too far or waiting too long.

More traffic

I find myself enjoying more the quiet solitude of the mountains, smaller cities, less well known beaches… I used to get bored at the beach but now it sounds like heaven. This is something we took for granted when we lived just outside of Seattle.

Dum Dum give me gum gum

Of course NYC is a city unlike almost any other. The energy that’s around pretty much 24/7 is something unique. It’s a top travel destination. It has more to do than could be completed in a month, especially considering all 5 boroughs.

Walking or the subway is the best way to get around NYC

You can find almost any type of cuisine, church, cultural center, embassy, subculture, or museum that you could possibly want.

At SpyScape – very cool and interactive but almost $100 for two people
Great picture I took as my phone wavered in the wind precariously 40ish floors above the ground as our window only opened an inch or two
No flags at the UN on the weekend 😦

A lot of neighborhoods have a distinct feel – much like many other big cities.

Another precariously taken picture

Last time we went to NYC, we were in Brooklyn for most of the time, in Brighton Beach of course, pretty much little Eastern Europe (not only Russian of course). I do like Brooklyn more than Manhattan just because Manhattan can be a little overwhelming. Brooklyn has Coney Island and a lot of the same things Manhattan has but it feels like on a smaller scale.

Even though there are still things I like about NYC, I think this might have been our last time visiting, at least for a good long while. We’ve started to look into more trips to smaller cities or into the woods or the desert or whatever, just something quiet.

Thanks for the excitement NYC, but I’m just too old for this ish now.

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Blinchiki gotovi!

I effing love blini. I try to make them most Sundays and we can never make enough because they don’t even last the morning let alone the whole day.

Blini are the centerpiece of the Russian/Slavic holiday, Maslenitsa (Мaсленица, Масниця, Масленіца). It is also celebrated in another form in Latvia, Meteņi. It originated in Pre-Christian times and is thought to honor the Sun and celebrates the end of winter.

There are so many variations to the recipe and you can change it to how you like your blini. The below is my recipe that I’ve used for years.

Recipe

12 oz flour

12 oz water

12 oz milk

5 eggs

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

2 oz butter, melted

I mix everything together in a blender and then in between each blin, I put a little butter on the pan. I actually have 2 pans (сковородки) going at the same time so I can get through the cooking part and get to the eating part faster.

Blini are in bottom right near wine along with many other Slavic food deliciousness at my mother-in-law’s house.

Blini are eaten with meat/fish (stuffed like blintzes), sweetened cottage cheese, jam, fruit, sour cream, sugar, etc. I personally like mine either with jam or with plain sugar rolled inside. Doesn’t matter, all equally delicious.

Приятного аппетита!

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Latvian Dual Citizenship

This post is not about learning Russian but this blog is also about me so it fits in in that way. A lot of people in the Latvian diaspora, in the United States and Australia, look for a way to connect to their ancestral roots. Many people’s families came from Latvia, or had to leave, during the 40s. They may not have grown up with the Latvian language or traditions and it’s hard to reconnect to your roots after a generation or two or however many.

The law in Latvia changed in 2013 to allow dual citizenship. Before that, if you wanted Latvian citizenship, you had to renounce your previous citizenship. After that, I took advantage of that to get myself Latvian citizenship and then also my daughter after she was born.

Brīvības piemineklis

The process is easy or hard depending on how much documentation you already have. My grandfather came to America from Latvia and I had certain documents but not everything. I worked with the Latvian Embassy in DC and had to go back and forth about what I was missing and needed to provide. You fill out some documents about why you are applying and then have to attach documents showing how you are Latvian. This is only my experience and I’m not sure if there are other ways to go about it. I had to contact the National Archive to get more documents to complete the picture. That of course costs money as does submitting the final packet once you have everything. Once I had proof of my grandfather’s citizenship, when he left and why, I had to prove my mother was his daughter and that I was her daughter. That documentation was much easier to get. Then have everything apostilled and then submitted to the embassy (with payment) and they submitted to Latvia. It took a few weeks before I heard back with a long letter essentially reiterating the details of my family history and that they were awarding me citizenship and then what my personas kods was (essentially a Latvian SSN).

The process to get my daughter citizenship was much easier. It was pretty much just a one page document where I put down her information, mine, my husbands (not a Latvian citizen) with a copy of her apostilled birth certificate and then she was good to go.

I’m still in the process of improving my Latvian too. Since we speak Russian and English at home it’s hard to fit it in and get enough practice. I have been working with a tutor through the website lonet.academy. They have other languages too but I like Verbling better for language learning and practice, they just don’t have Latvian.

I may or may not be alone in not feeling “Latvian” enough. Getting Latvian citizenship made me feel closer to the country and traditions as well as my family and ancestors.

Latvia is a beautiful country too. It’s pretty budget friendly and there’s a lot of history and nature as well as cities, even some pretty great beaches. If anyone has any questions about the process of applying for citizenship, don’t hesitate to reach out but just Googling it will give you a lot of resources including the Latvian Embassy near wherever you live. You can contact them if you’re not sure where to start.

All the photos are from our last trip to Latvia in 2015.
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Interesting Sayings..

GTFOH With
Привет

Незваный гость хуже татарина

— Russian Saying

Wtf – so the above saying means “an uninvited/unexpected guest is worse than a Tatar”. Not always politically correct…. “Не имей сто рублей, а имей сто друзей”./”Ne imei sto rublei, a imei sto druzyei”. “Better to have 100 friends than 100 Rubles” Ah yes, much better. Anywho, my point is that if you Google “20 Russian Phrases” you will get a million hits with mostly the same words. If you’ve stumbled this far I’m going to assume you probably know those words/phrases or can find them somewhere else and I don’t want to waste your time with them. If you further down the rabbit hole, there are a lot more helpful words and phrases and some just plain interesting or entertaining ones.

Some others I enjoy or that I find native speakers use very often..

  1. Nu… ну.. Basically it means well…. and it is used the same way as in English but it’s used ALL THE TIME. It’s used a lot in Latvian as well and can be sprinkled everywhere in a conversation just like blin (Блин) which means pancake/crepe but mostly is used as the word “damn” and is equivalent to kurwa in Polish. My husband NEVER uses swear words and I’ve always been taught that people don’t really use them but I find I hear it more and more often. Truthfully, as a non-native Russian speaker, I find Russian swear words ADORABLE! They all sound so cute like Пиздец (pizdec, damn it), Хуй (huy, dick), Сука/Шлюха (suka(the most famous)/shlyuha, bitch/whore). If you didn’t want me to say them, WHY ARE THEY SO FUN TO SAY!?
  2. Ladno ладно It means ok or alright or agreed. The more nuanced да ладно (da ladno) is better explained here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1W0qUrpIhk8 This Youtube channel is especially helpful for a lot of these small phrases that are great to use during conversations explained in short and well explained videos.
  3. Utro vechera mudrenee – утро вечера мудренее – I hear this one a lot and have begun using it because it’s very true. It means the morning is wiser than the evening. Basically if you have any worries or anxieties or aren’t sure about what to do about something, just go to sleep. You’ll feel better in the morning, will be wiser in the morning, more calm, and can decide what to do then.
  4. Davay давай – let’s go/ok goodbye/come on/let’s go/let’s… This has so many meanings.
  5. Da, nyet, navernoe Да нет, наверное Basically this is yes, no, maybe but almost always means “no.” But maybe. But no.

Here’s a website that has a few of these and some others. https://www.rbth.com/education/329941-russian-interjections

I found that these types of words and fillers were the later things I learned that would have helped my earlier speech feel more natural… nu pizdec..

Nu, ladno, davai…