Friday, February 25, 2011

Tips for future Latvian travelers...

To all our followers ~ this post is for those that will be traveling soon to Latvia. If that's not you... I'd skip this post! Make sure you read the one from last night and we'll post again about our day, later!

This is as extensive as we could get. I'm sure we forgot something but I hope this helps you.

FYI: There are 4 English Speaking Churches in Riga. The Anglican (11am), Lutheran (10am) and Catholic (2pm); The Church of Christ is on the list but we never found times or address. Also, there is a tourism center right next door to The House of Blackheads in Old Town Riga. You can get a bunch of info/maps there. You'll also want a "Riga-in-your-pocket".

Money exchange: Super easy!!!! Exchange rates change but the process doesn't. As far as I know, there are no fees to exchange and if there are, they are low. We have exchanged 3 times so far. Even if you over exchange, you'll use it in the future. If you get in early enough, you can go to the nearest bank. If your arrive in Riga a little late in the afternoon, you can exchange at the airport (apparently the exchange rates aren't as good compared to a bank).

Things we brought that we haven't used ~ We've used everything we brought besides a few craft things but that was because of intrest.

Things we brought for entertaining:
puzzles (we brought 2 & she loved them) could have brought way more - the whole family can get involved; I made a craft box (cheap, 12x5x4 plastic from dollar tree) - filled it with scissors, paper hole punch, pencils, markers, crayons, pipe cleaners, fun-craft scissors, brass brads, deck of cards, tape, glue sticks, stickers, punching balloons (3/pack dollar tree); coloring books, easy readers, flashcards (our daughter speaks absolutely no English - Pre-K Alphabet, first words, shapes/colors) Pre-K to 1st grade workbooks; construction paper (we made a family quilt with a picture of every one in our family- she wrote their title in Latvian and I wrote their English name - Awesome idea I got from a book - she knows all their names & will know them when she first sees them). I also brought 2 skeins of yarn & a "knifty knitter" & 2 sets of knitting needles. Books for me & my hubby - for plane and down times when you need some alone time in the tub, in your room, restroom!
***Also, bring things that are self entertaining. Silence isn't bad! Your child will have to entertain themselves at home, they can't depend on you 100% for their entertainment. The knitting was a huge help, as well as the puzzles.

Medicines:They have a pharmacy "Meness" about every 3-4 blocks in Old Town. It's about the same in the rest of Riga. I have no idea about outside of Riga. If you plan on buying medicines here, you'll need to be able to google the translation. We brought Tylenol PM for the first few nights (jetlag - friend said it was the best & I agree), Sudafed (2 boxes) Advil, Tylenol, we asked our Dr. for a broad spectrum antibiotic for each of us, Any RX, Asprin, Dramamine (my hubby gets motion sickness but even if he didn't, I'd have brought it for Leigah - just in case). I brought a small first aid kit, as well!

Clothes:It's stinkin' cold here right now and you'll be able to watch temps before you come. We didn't bring a scarf but purchased one our 2nd day out because we desperately needed it. We had our winter coats, thick gloves and hats (I also have one of those ear wraps that also covers my forehead - I like better than hat, my hair isn't all over the place). Joe packed 3 pairs of Jeans & one pair dress pants. We were told ahead of time to not pack tan/khaki pants, apparently you'll stick out or are perceived as, well I dn't know but we didn't bring any. Joe also brought several sweatshirts and 5-6 T-shirts, socks & boxers. I brought 5 prs jeans, skirt & 1 pr dress pants. 4 hoodies, 6-7 shirts, lots of undergarments & socks. You can buy wool socks for cheap down at the market or street venders for fairly cheap if your socks aren't warm enough.

Shoes:if its still snowy/cold, the snow melts and it's all slushy, so you may want shoes that can stand up to that. But on the other hand, if it melts, it'll freeze over night, so you'll want shoes with traction. But if your like us, we walk everywhere. We probably walk 2-4 miles a day. You'll want shoes that are comfortable. so take all that into consideration. I also brought house shoes for all of us.

- We brought laundry soap and it lasted until yesterday, we bought more at Maxima (grocery store). It wasn't Tide, although that is available. I only paid
2 Lats ($4) for this stuff, but I'm gonna leave the remaining soap here at the apartment. I can live with the cheap stuff for 9 days.
*Body - You can purchase anything you might need; it may cost you more. We brought shampoo, conditioner, deoderant, hairspray, gel, razors, toothpicks, floss, Q-tips, bar soap & body wash. We bought a new bar of soap yesterday (Leigah is more familiar with the bar and prefers it)!

Things we didn't bring that I wish we would have: spatula (this apartment doesn't have one, so I use a fork to flip pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches), spices, regular elmers glue, yo-yo, more self-entertainment toys/things.

Some other things our friends suggested we bring:
Walmart "green" reuseable bags - (we brought 3) you have to purchase grocery bags if you don't have them; if you do purchase them at the store here, bring them with the you next time.
Bubble Wrap - for breakable souvenirs
Duct Tape - in case suitcase breaks
mailing tubes - if you purchase prints/pictures

I'm sure there is more but that's all I can think of for now. Hope this helps!!!

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