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March 25, 2024


My friend Mark called me from London last week.  He regrets he will not be coming to Thailand in April.  Instead, he has accepted a lengthy assignment as a Production Manager in Tallinn, Estonia.   He and a local crew will be shooting exteriors for an upcoming British television series. 

Mark’s announcement prompted me to recall my own visit to Tallinn, and my extended trip to the Baltics: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. 

Riga: Old Town



August 31, 2014

Dear Friends,

“What is your favorite city?” 

I am frequently asked this question and like other travelers, I am tempted to answer, “My favorite city is the city where I am now!”

Of course that is an unsatisfactory answer, even when it might be true.

At the moment I am in Riga, the capital of Latvia.  And if I were to give an honest answer, it would be: “If I make a list of my ten favorite cities, Riga would be on the list, perhaps even in the top five.”

Riga: Art Nouveau



September 4, 2014

To buy or not to buy? 

As the American actress Mae West (1893-1980) once remarked, “I never let anything tempt me, unless I can’t resist it.”

On Alberta Street, I couldn’t resist the book Art Nouveau in Riga.*

Despite my protestations, my pleadings , my sob stories and my best negotiating and bargaining skills, the Latvian (or was she Russian?) saleslady did not budge from the asking price of ten Euros for the book.  Honestly?  It is worth every penny.

Riga: Central Market



September 2, 2014

To:  Jeff Z. and Bob A.

cc: Family and Friends

Since you are both engineers with a specialty, respectively, in transportation and geotechnical engineering, I thought you would appreciate the structures of the Riga Central Market.  The market is the largest in Europe and lies across the Daugava River from the Old Town of Riga.

The market of course is dotted with outdoor stalls that display towering piles of fruit, vegetables, flowers, recently picked mushrooms, and consumer products.  Everything from bananas to berries to boxer shorts to bras is on offer.

Riga: Vermanes Park Stroll

             A Stroll Today?  Chess Anyone?


Republic of Latvia


August 31, 2014

On this sunny weekend afternoon, family and friends and friends and neighbors get out of the house and promenade, play, perform and pose in the public park.  What could be more civilized? 

Not counting the pointillist masterpiece by the French painter Georges Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884), I first encountered this civil and civilizing world-wide phenomenon in Greece fifteen years ago.   

Latvia: Castles in Segulda and Cēsis



August 26, 2014

Cool.  Rain.

“Latvia” is printed on a sign of deep blue with a circle of gold stars.  It is the only indication that I driven across the boundary of the sovereign nation of Estonia and into the sovereign nation of Latvia, both members of the European Union.  

Barriers?   Uniforms?  Questions?  Paperwork?  None of the above.

No anger.  No fear.  No fences between good neighbors. 

How civil.  How civilized. 

Unfortunately, unlike the “Union,” the weather is not cooperating.

For two days, I must forcibly eject myself from the comfort of the Villa Alberta to see the local castles.