I have come to realize the importance of those four words recently. The prefix re- plays a great role in our lives. It is not the new things that are so crucial in life, it is to stop and look around and perhaps re-start from the beginning. That and much more on my recent trip to Latvia.
I also realize I do not need to promote travelling anymore, there are way too many travel agencies and encouragements to travel, but what I want to do is another thing – perhaps people do not realize how important is to change their place often and regularly. By that I mean – travel, see new places or new people, experience a new sport, go to a new restaurant, help a new stranger. But the point is not to travel far, on the contrary, I think we should explore our neighbourhoods, our lands or our neighbouring lands. As a Slovenian who travels quite a lot, I often practice the very same thing. People often think that to disconnect and recharge they need to travel to an exotic place, like the Seychelles, Indonesia or Peru. However, if you think well, it is not practical nor sustainable to do that often. Sure, we all want to do that once in a while, but the main point is to change the scenery of your everyday life, your job or toxic people around you.
I do not have many vacation days at my current work – or not enough for what would be ok for me. But I do have free days every week. And instead of spending them at home, cleaning, sleeping or whatever excuses I (or people) often make not to go out on those days, I decided to go to Latvia last week. To go to Riga on a solo trip. To be honest, none of my friends could go, and my boyfriend is on a training camp, but in the end I didn’t even bother searching for anyone and decided I needed to go alone. I had been to Riga before and the city impressed me with its colours and beautiful architecture, but this time I did not feel the pressure of being on a tight schedule to do the sights. I just wanted to relax and maybe read, write, get some new ideas, in short, to recharge my batteries. Because the last free days I felt recharged me were in Prague in February. There was a loooong period of … my energy being sucked out… in between.
“As you travel solo, being totally responsible for yourself, it’s inevitable that you will discover just how capable you are!” Unknown
And because it is more environmentally friendly to travel to a close place and by road and it doesn’t cost much, I booked an Airbnb room in Riga. No major expectations there, the room was cheap and I mistakenly read it was near the old town. Later I realised it wasn’t in the old town, but a 20-min ride out of the center. Whatever, it is still close enough to go by public transport. Here I would like to mention I used to use Couchsurfing platform as a traveller and host, but I came to realize, after some tough experiences, that nothing comes for free – if you don’t pay in money, you pay it often even with a much higher price. The platform has it benefits and I still go to their meetings sometimes, but I feel too old for that and mostly, there is this strange feeling to crash on somebody’s couch without paying, like you owe the host something – and most often it is your privacy. That is not to say I don’t enjoying crashing for free – however then I prefer to do it through a friend’s recommendation. Or on a lawn somewhere, or a train station of Most na Soci with my friend Jana.
But this time it was Airbnb, I paid and felt ok with it, even though the price was really economic, but that was the host’s choice. And it paid off – in may ways.
I met my host and her boyfriend in the new business-technology park/living quarter of Jauna Teika – correction, first I met Samuel, the monkey, who went to space. And he welcomed me with a positive, exploring spirit on a very sunny day. When you look up that place on Google maps, he is still not there, so his statue is fresh, new and bright.
The next two days were filled with activities. However, I must say, mostly at the courtesy of my dear host Olga. I was just lucky to find her and many times on my travels in the past, the same thing happened. Luck or karma or just attraction of good energy.
So I strongly believe that you get what you attract – and even if I am sometimes unlucky in life, I appreciate these short moments of goodness I receive. And even when I walk in some dodgy places sometimes, I am fine (touch wood for the future)!
“You never really travel alone. The world is full of friends waiting to get to know you!” Unknown
Our first destination was the beach – but not the touristy beach of Jurmala, but a more remote, Saulkrastai to the north of the city. The coast filled me with peace and pleasant odour of the sea. A paradise of peace – the feeling was mutual. Sand that sings under my feet, driftwood, water and the warmth of sun filled me with peace and harmony. It was that simple.
My host offered to take me on, inland, towards ‘adrenalin park’ type of town to Sigulda, which is already part of the national park of Gaujas. You can take a leap on the wired kind of bungee jump, enjoy the activities of the Obstacle park, walk down along the river, take a ride on the Eye of Sigulda or simply enjoy the walk in this green town . We did the latter. And we stopped in the old house of Doma, that apparently belonged to the owner’s grandmother. With their entrepreneurial skills, the granddaughter(s) changed it to a nice lounge, diner space with a pleasant garden. This day could really not get any better with their delicious salad on the garden.
We still had to get back to Riga by car and the ride among the awakening spring surroundings was just another things worth seeing. I didn’t miss the city, even though I love Riga. I enjoyed the nature this time – and a good company. The last thing I wanted to do was just a quick jump to my favourite concept store of Riija. And even though I think they are a bit overpriced, I fell in love with their advertisement on a postcard last time I went to Riga and just had to buy their soap. This time I took a scented soy wax candle – and I love to have it at home.
The short trip was a complete recharge for my batteries and my brain rewired. I was in the nature and saw the benefits of living in a city, I met nice people and saw beautiful places, I travelled in the vicinity of my home, but still visited new places. It would be best if I could use train transport, but in the lack of it I used a bus – which is kind of environmentally friendly. I think my environmentally friendly inner self is happy. And my weekend retreat goal was reached – I came home richer because of the trip.