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The Christmas Letter that Wasn’t

The Christmas Letter(that Wasn't)
This year I tossed around the idea of writing “a Christmas letter.” My family has never been one to send out long missives full of detailed accounts of all of our accomplishments. Maybe we had too many kids…or too few accomplishments. ;) Maybe it just isn’t our style. But this year, I was feeling rather adult-ish I guess, because I thought about writing a Christmas letter myself, printing a few copies and sending it to my friends. Different friends knew different highlights of what 2015 held for my family, but I wanted to do a recap. The recap would, I hoped, both keep me feeling connected to my faraway friends and explain why I was so bad at keeping up with everyone for the past twelve months. The point is: 2015 was a whopper. So much so that a Christmas letter never even began to happen. For this reason, I am proud to introduce you to my New Years’ Recap on the Blog. Enjoy!
Near the end of 2014, my sister and her husband announced they were pregnant with their first child! We were all elated. Caitlin had a very healthy pregnancy, outside of the fact that she’s automatically considered high-risk due to type-1 diabetes. Early in the pregnancy, we had a big scare. She went so low in her sleep that she went unconscious and we were unable to wake her up. It was very dramatic, we called an ambulance, but ended up not transporting her. After that, her pregnancy became increasingly high-maintenance. Thankfully, Simeon came in June as healthy as can be, but only by the grace of God and lots and lots of hard work. Caitlin managed her diet with indescribable meticulousness. She was never alone for more than about five minutes (literally) and never drove during her pregnancy, due to the risk of quick, severe lows with no warning. She set alarms to wake up and test her blood sugar several times every night and my mom went and checked on her every night as well, especially on mornings when my brother-in-law went into work before dawn. Everyone told Caitlin to enjoy her sleep while she could, but from what I’ve heard, waking up to feed your baby is way better than waking up to test your blood sugar! We had a few more scares, particularly in April when she came down with a stomach bug and had to spend 24 hours under observation in the emergency room. Vomiting paired with diabetes and pregnancy is one of those things to make you thank God for modern medicine. When she came down with the virus, we were preparing to leave for Europe. The plan was for my parents, my two youngest sisters and I to all fly out of Houston, but my mom very nearly stayed home. Thankfully (the word of the year, right there) Caitlin was finally able to eat before it was time for us to leave. She was released, returned to Eyrie Park and held down the fort for us while we were gone. Jeweliet helped her a lot during the nineteen days we were abroad and, in June, she was induced and gave birth to Joe Simeon Giles.
The past six months with Simeon “on the outside” have been a delight. He has been very healthy and is a great eater. He is continually chubbier, has rosy cheeks, blond hair and bright blue eyes. He loves to play peek-a-boo, sit up and “join” in the conversation, eat cereal and especially mashed peas, take baths or be naked in general, lie under the Christmas tree and drum on the table. He loves music, his Winnie the Pooh bear, patty-cake, rolling over and anything and everything “Grandaddy” does.
Caitlin, Joe D. and Simeon all still live with us while their home is under construction next door. The painstaking process of building the house ourselves (literally, my dad and brothers driving the nails) has been delayed time and again. My dad has worked extremely hard on the house…but he also works extremely hard at the emergency room, where he works about double an average full-time job and always in twenty-four hour shifts. Finally, a couple of months ago, my parents hired a crew to finish much of the house and it really is getting close now. It’s an adorable, two-bedroom one-bath with green siding and two big porches. I can’t wait to help Caitlin decorate, unpack (her things have been in a storage building for years now) and settle in!
As I mentioned before, April found my parents, two youngest sisters and I abroad! The goal was to take Dorothy to Latvia one more time to secure her permanent visa. Since she was already “ours,” for this trip, we were able to travel around to other countries while we were there if we chose. My parents told me that if I could save up for my own plane tickets, I could accompany them. They then decided to invite Phoebe to come along, since she and Dorothy are pretty inseparable…and what could be better than getting to see your BFF-sister’s home country and experience new countries together?
We flew into Amsterdam on Good Friday and had a great time exploring Holland. To keep things brief, we went to The Van Gogh Museum, the Rikes Museum (Rembrandt!) and Hillsong United, Amsterdam. We stayed on a houseboat on the canal, did a lot of walking, jumped on a lot of trams, almost got hit by a lot of bicycles and narrowly avoided the red light district! We then took an over-night train through Germany and woke up in Zurich, Switzerland. Switzerland was truly lovely and I wish I could have spent more time there. We took the Bernina Express through The Alps, which was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. Switzerland was breathtaking. And so clean, which I appreciated after The Netherlands!
From Switzerland, our train journey continued into Italy. Who knew you get on a train in one country and the landscape slowly changes and you’re suddenly in another, totally different country? Europe blew my mind. Italy was hallmarked by our ridiculous, stressful, hilarious train travel mishaps, but I’ve blogged about that already. We got to spend a night in The House of Juliet and a day in fair Verona. This was another major highlight for me. Verona was our warmest destination, which went over well with a family from Texas, and it was truly beautiful. I dropped a letter in Juliet’s mailbox, stood on her balcony, ate pizza, toured cathedrals, sat in The Arena and left too, too soon.
From there we went to Venice, which was a life-long dream of mine. Venice did not disappoint. We fed pigeons in St. Mark’s Square, went on a gondola ride, admired the unreal mosaics around every corner, ate sandwiches outside out a little cafe on the cobblestones, ate gelato as we traipsed around, bought glass necklaces and drank cappuccinos while casually leaning against building the apostle Paul probably leaned against. No big deal.
From Venice, we flew through Moscow and into Riga, Latvia. We were nearly not allowed out of the Riga airport because flying from Moscow is considered suspicious and we were already considered suspicious! Dorothy’s name and old name were not matching up on all her documents. There’s just not a good way to travel with a child you’re adopting internationally, because of the order everything must happen in. We were held up for some period of time at every airport, but we were finally released into Latvia. Latvia is really a hidden gem in Europe. It’s quaint, the people are kind, the scenery is lovely and the whole country feels like a private corner in the world. The poor of Latvia pulled at my heartstrings more than anyone else we encountered, perhaps because of our personal connection the country. We drank lots of good coffee, toured a real, ancient castle, some beautiful churches and lots of lovely shops and restaurants. We stayed in an upper apartment in Old Riga, across an alley from a children’s music school. They opened their slats in the afternoons and sang a cappella. It was enchanting.
Saying “goodbye” to Latvia and the wonderful women who helped bring Dorothy into our family (through the host program and adoption process) was sad, but we still had one country left. We flew into Stockholm and were taken to a very nice apartment in Kungsholmen. We really enjoyed Sweden…especially their practice of Fika (afternoon coffee and pastries.) But of course, we had already instituted that at Eyrie Park! Stockholm was fascinating and beautiful. One of the best surprises was the Vasa Museum, which is constructed around a ship which was restored after 300 years on the sea floor. We adored watching the changing of the guard at the royal palace, had a blast shopping in the little stores, popping into the Nobel Museum, touring the church with the famous statue of Saint George and the dragon, going on a boat tour of the archipelago and spending nearly a whole day at the zoo which takes up an entire island (Skansen.) We really liked the city as a whole, the culture and the views. From there, we flew home…happy to be back at Eyrie Park. We used only backpacks as luggage, so throwing those off at the end of the nineteen days put Pilgrim’s Progress in a whole new light.
May was busy, as usual. We opted out of our usual Galveston beach trip for the second May in a row (2014 we were waiting on Dorothy, and 2015 we were waiting on Simeon!) Jeweliet and I were both bridesmaids in our dear friend Lauren’s wedding. We threw a baby shower for Caitlin and a wedding shower for my long-time best friend, Katie, both at Eyrie Park. Katie’s shower was a bit like a bachelorette/last time to all hang out as single girls day. The end of an era for our friend group! Our family also has three May birthdays, so there was also a Nancy Drew scavenger hunt at the end of the month!
June brought Katie’s beautiful wedding, in which I was honored to stand as a bridesmaid. I turned 23 on the 23rd (my Golden Birthday) and Jeweliet surprised me a day early at work with friends and shopping down town and just the best day ever. There were flower crowns, sparkling grape juice, tacos, Shop Around the Corner and the best girls in the whole world. Yay. On the 23rd, Caitlin went into the hospital for her induction and Simeon arrived on the 24th!
July would’ve been quite full enough with the brand new baby, without the things we will always remember July of 2015 for. My grandpa went in for heart surgery on the same day my cousin was in a horrible car accident. To make a long (painful) story short, my grandpa and my cousin ended up in rooms next to each other in the ICU in Houston, and actually both coded at the same time. We nearly lost them…both. It was traumatic and then it was miraculous and it’s still insane to look back on. Jeweliet and my parents spent several days in Houston during all this and I stayed home with Caitlin and the baby and the other kids. Both my grandfather and my cousin are recovering well now.
August came in sliding. My older brother got married in Dallas on the 29th. We are so happy to have Amber in our family and the wedding weekend was great. We got to stay in a hotel with a pool (always awesome,) meet Amber’s lovely family and hang out with several of my cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. It was amazing to see my grandfather there after everything he had been through the month before.
September sent us to Galveston at last, with Dorothy and Simeon both in tow! Our week in Galveston was a dream. Relaxing, sunny, happy. I wish I could relive that week! September 27th marked one year of Dorothy at home. There’s no place like it!
When the Fall semester began, homeschooling was launched once again. Teeko and Dorothy continued in Classical Conversations while George and Phoebe started an entirely online curriculum at home. I continued leading The Serve Team at our church, Teeko’s football team went to state…and won! In October, Jeweliet and I flew to Oregon and spent eight days in the Pacific Northwest with friends. We got to see the Peckovers in Oregon, which was fantabulous. My beloved, long-time pen pal, Lydia, came to Portland to meet us and basically made my year. We cried when we left Oregon. In Washington, we got to meet Gretchen Louise of Kindred Grace and her family, Jennifer Miles and her family (also a writer for Kindred Grace!) We also got to meet Eddie Ogan, the inspiring woman I’m writing a book about. It was a monumental, once-in-a-lifetime sort of trip.
November was the mudslide to the end of the year. I hardly remember it! Thanksgiving, a family reunion, football and the chaos that is the end of the school year. Everything had to be wrapped up and finished. Hustle and bustle! The curtain opened on December. Advent whirred by, despite our best efforts. Saint Lucia’s Day was very happy, and it wasn’t so hard to say goodbye to Joey and Amber, knowing we’d see them again at Christmas. We went to a Christmas parade, saw the lights in the trees downtown, shopped till we dropped, shopped some more the next day. I won a Christmas costume competition as Cindy Lou-Who! My parents surprised Jeweliet and I with our very first car (to share.) We named our VW “Pigeon” and we are quite in love! Freedom tasteth sweet. Dorothy turned 11 with a Wizard of Oz shindig. Joey and Amber came back, Jesus was born and celebrated! A tornado ripped through Dallas and made the week of Christmas a bitter-sweet one. Joey and Amber returned to Dallas. We finally finished watching It’s a Wonderful Life.
Between all of this, we had our normal stuff. Eleven people in one house. Drought. Flooded living room and leaky roof. Ice skating lessons. Jaundice and spit up. Arguments and tears. Cars in the shop for long periods of time. Christmas parties. Birthday parties (GALORE.) Lost grocery lists. Dust bunnies. Dance parties. Movies and popcorn (GALORE.) Political discussions at breakfast. Life advice at dinner. Coffee (GALORE.) Walking into church…late…again. Working nights and sleeping days (in the case of my dad.) Big plates of sandwiches at the picnic table. Lessons at the kitchen counter. Laundry (GALORE.) Baby snuggles. Answered prayers.

With all the ups and downs 2015 brought us, I found myself entering December with trepidation. I wasn’t sure I wanted to start a new year. I wasn’t sure I was ready. But as it is fast approaching (I am writing this on December 27th,) I am becoming more excited. God had everything in control in 2015, He’ll see us through another year, and I’m curious about what He might have in store. I have plans, I have a deep belief that some of my plans will be overruled and overturned and I have both trepidation and faith as I say goodbye to the old year and welcome the new…

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Well hey, y’all!

If you’re not following me on Facebook, you are probably wondering “where in heck” I’ve run off to. I don’t know why I never thought of posting an explanation here! Truth be told, I still adore blogging (I will probably blog my whole life!) and plan to do so more and more. The hang up is, I’m not going to be doing it here.

Yes, you heard me. I’m hanging up the key to Clickety-Clack very soon. After more than eight years of blogging here, it is time for me to move on to a new, more accommodating space. The lovely Charlotte Boyer (of The Boyer Sisters) is designing a brand new site where I will continue to write all the things on my heart, including the posts about adoption which used to pop up on Pineapple Siblings.

It’s going to be très chic, super user-friendly, organized, clean, new and fresh! Merry Christmas to me!

So do not despair. I’m still here, I’m still writing, I’m still a blogger. I’m even writing (and illustrating) a book!

Oh, and one more thing. It’s actually the thing I’ve had the hardest time with. On the new blog, I’ll be using my legal name. Everly will forever be an old nickname which will bring back lots of happy, bloggy memories…but I’m going to try to make my life, on and offline, more seamless in the future.

We’re not crying, are we? Perfect.

See you on the other side, my dears!

One last time as,

Everly

caroline's portrait

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#everlyabroad (entries from my journal 9)

blog photo-golden pancakes

Pancakes at Golden Coffee, Old Riga

April 15, 2015

Rented Apartment, Old Riga

We didn’t do a lot today, which was actually really nice. Because I didn’t use any public transportation today, I am about to put my pajamas on and watch “Decoy Bride” with the parents and then hit the hay! Yay!

We got up this morning and went to Golden Coffee for pancakes, but sadly-we don’t think their favorite waitress, Daniella works there anymore. The pancakes were good and I ate them all, which was good too! I have not had much of an appetite during our trip, especially in the morning. The latte at Costa is much better, however.

After breakfast, we came back to the apartment to get word about our visa appointment. When we found out it was one o’clock, we hurried over to Saint Peter’s to give ourselves a little tour. St. Peter’s was really pretty and the view from the tower is amazing. I loved it.

After that, we came back to the apartment to regroup before Mommy, Daddy and Dorothy had to head out. There wasn’t room for everyone in the car, so Phoebe and I stayed behind. They first had to run by the doctor’s office to have her sign off that Dot’s TB test came back negative. They didn’t get home until about four!

Chillin' with PJ

Chillin’ with PJ

Meanwhile, Phoebe and I had a relaxing afternoon watching “Support Your Local Sheriff” (one of those movies Phoebe loves but Dorothy doesn’t “get,”) painting and taking a nap. We also ate a whole bag of paprika potato chips while watching the movie. That’s what happens when you are locked in an apartment with no lunch!

By the time they got home, of course everyone was very hungry, so we had a celebratory “lupper” at a nice Italian place called “Felicitia” down the road a bit. I had baked chicken with vegetables and it was delicious. After that, we went back to Kuuka Kafe for coffee and dessert an walked around some souvenir shops.

Fancy!

Fancy!

We are home now, ready to wind down. Goodnight!

April 21, 2015

Well, I was doing really well for a while there! Once we were on the downhill slope of the trip, it was hard to slow down to write. Before we left Riga, we were able to do a limited tour of The Dome Cathedral (much of it is under construction) and spend a day with *Sintija! She took us to a new restaurant called Zoyste that a Latvian-American just opened. They use organic ingredients and put a Latvian spin on American dishes. It was pretty good!

House of Blackheads, Old Riga

House of Blackheads, Old Riga

We then went to our favorite place–Costa! Best coffee in Riga. After that, we met the lawyers assistant at House of Blackheads to pick up Dorothy’s visa and new, Latvian passport. It was a great moment to have all the documents—complete at last! But it was also bittersweet, knowing we have no “reason” to return to Lativa–or Europe for that matter. And it also meant we had to say “goodbye” to our Latvian friends, for who-knows-how-long. Wah.

Freedom Monument in Riga

Freedom Monument in Riga

So we had mixed feelings as we left the apartment and boarded our plane to Stockholm. However, we had all been looking forward to our time in Sweden, so we focused on that! Sweden was awesome. It really felt like a place I would like to live. The people were much friendlier than I expected. The sun was out almost the whole time we were there and, though it was cold, we kept comfortable by sitting in the sunlight whenever possible and continuing to layer our clothes as we had done for the entire trip.

I actually have callouses on my legs from wearing tights under my pants every day. Didn’t know that was possible!

Stockholm

Stockholm

Our first night in Stockholm, our contact came and got us settled in to the apartment. Her name is Juliet and she was born in Uganda, but has lived in Stockholm for nineteen years. She speaks perfect English and was very helpful. Our apartment was super nice. It was a very stereotypical Swedish design–sleek, minimalistic and mostly white. It had a sauna, heated floors and a nice, big kitchen.My room was a loft with a curtain for a door and a fold-out couch for a bed. I had a balcony and, though it was too cold tone hang out there, I did occasionally open the door and let the breeze come through.

Changing of the Guard, Swedish National Palace

Changing of the Guard, Swedish National Palace

Our first full day in Sweden, we went to the National Palace and saw the changing of the guard. We were told to “be early or be tall,” so we waited out in the cold for probably half an hour before it began. Sure enough, quite a crowd had gathered by the time it started. What I was imagining to be a five minute ceremony was actually a forty-five minute performance! There were horses, a marching band, commentary, salutes, and all sorts of “pomp.” We had a blast watching from our perfect spot on “front row.” Everything was very formal until near the end when suddenly, the band started to play “Sway” by Dean Martin! They played the whole song and the conductor wiggled to the music atop his steed. We had a great time watching the whole thing.

Walking in Stockholm

Walking in Stockholm

Before it began, Daddy tried to ask one of the guards a question and stepped a bit too close! He was loudly commanded to “halt!” Then Daddy wanted me to go ask him and see if he would treat me the same way. Not happening…

The changing of the guard happens every day but Monday (much is closed on Mondays in Stockholm) and a different “squadron” (or whatever they’re called) performs every day!

We ate lunch at a place not far from The Nobel Museum. We had “toast” (grilled sandwiches) and soup. Our first night, Daddy and I walked across the street to “Mama Dou” and got oriental food and brought it back to the apartment. The second night, we were too hungry to look for another place to eat, so we heated up our left-overs for dinner.

Vasa

Vasa

While in Stockholm, we also got to tour two museums: Vasa Museum and Skansen. Both were lovely!

The Vasa was way more interesting than I expected. It is a museum built around a warship that’s over three hundred years old. 98% of the materials are original! We also saw much of what was recovered from Vasa,  including several human skeletons, some of which were so well persevered by the cold, briny harbor that their hair, brain and clothing remained intact!

Skansen is meant to be a “little Sweden” from the past and is the oldest living history museum in the world. It has lots of actual buildings from centuries past, collected from other parts of the country. The park is huge and beautiful and is a strange balance of kept-up and left-free. There are gardens, animals, a zoo, shops, places to eat, glass-blowing workshops, a pottery studio, a blacksmiths, and much more. Unfortunately, we only gave ourselves about an hour there before much of these things closed for the night. The employees who dress in old-fashioned costumes and much of the “living history” activities were gone.

Skansen

Skansen

However, the park itself, including the zoo, doesn’t appear to close…ever! We walked to our heart’s content, discovering new pathways and habitats for hours.

St. George and the Dragon

St. George and the Dragon

Before closing time, we were abel to see a short glass-blowing demonstration, during which Phoebe and Dorothy got to blow some glass themselves. It was probably the best of our day for them! We also got to see The Great Cathedral of Stockholm that day, including the ancient statue of Saint George slaying the dragon. Awesome! Other than that, we took a boat tour, shopped for souvenirs, drank lots of coffee (“fika!”) watched the swans and ducks at the short near our apartment (on Kungsholmen) and walked and walked and walked.

wild swans

wild swans

Sadly, Sweden is far behind me as I write…along with the rest of the European continent. We got up at three o’clock this morning for a six-thirty flight from Stockholm to Amsterdam and are now on our flight from Amsterdam to Houston, where it all began.

I am so sad it’s over, but also very excited to see the rest of the family and be home.

*Sintija was Dorothy’s chaperone the first time she came to the states. We love her and have enjoyed keeping in touch with her. Parting ways was very sad. Come back to the U.S. soon, Sintija!!!

My Beloved Eyrie Park

My Beloved Eyrie Park

This concludes my journal entries from my trip to Europe, April 2015. There is always so much more to say, but I hope you all enjoyed “following along” in a way. It was an unforgettable adventure. A big “thanks” should go out to my parents for letting me tag along and for buying me so many lattes in so many countries. It was a blast, such a fun, special, insane, difficult, lovely blast…

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#everlyabroad (entries from my journal 8)

Dottie on the water taxi!

Dottie on the water taxi!

Since we only had one day in Venice, it was really hard to decide what to see and do. Sadly, much our time on the trip as a whole has been spent discussing, deciding on and getting to our destinations. We thought we definitely wanted to ride in a gondola and tour St. Marc’s Basilica, but when we learned the price of a gondola ride and saw the line at St. Marc’s, we reconsidered all of our plans.

In the end, we had breakfast at the hotel (dry croissants and a cold cup of coffee) and hopped on a “vaporetto” (water bus.) We stopped at every stop to let locals on and off, and finally got off at Saint Marc’s. Of course, when walking around St. Marc’s square, surrounded by thousands of tourists from all over the world, we ran into none other than Veriato! He was with some friends, hitting the hot spots. Veriato became our very own Where’s Waldo?

We didn’t end up touring the Basilica, though I’d really like to do that some day. It is supposed to be incredible inside, but it would’ve taken most of our day and the girls’ were a bit exhausted of fancy old buildings by this point. The outside of the Basilica was memorably in-and-of-itself. I’ve never seen mosaics like we saw in Venice.

St. Marc's Basilica

St. Marc’s Basilica

We did, however, end up jumping a gondola—and I’m SO glad. The rides are very pricey, but our gondolier had dropped his prices throughout the day. Each gondolier pretty much has one “stop” where they take on new passengers, and if your stop hasn’t been popular that day, you may need to offer a discount. The gondola ride was super fun. It did not disappoint and the time passed too quickly.

Our gondolier is named Alarico and he is a third generation gondolier. He is part of the biggest family of gondoliers in Venice. All of his brothers, his father and grandfather are or were gondoliers. Gondoliers retire at sixty-five, they each own, decorate and maintain their own gondolas and take great pride in their work. Alarico was obviously very proud of his family’s legacy and told us the names of everyone in his family, including his sisters. He hopes to marry and have sons one day, to pass the trade to (though there is ONE female gondolier in Venice, whose name is Georgia!)

blog photo-everly on the gondola

He told us the exact number of official gondoliers in Venice (four hundred and something) and where each of his brothers work around the city. Alarico was very friendly. Unlike the other places we had visited thus far, most of the people we encountered in Venice speak minimal English and with a heavy accent. The ride was forty minutes long, and Alarico explained what we were passing along the way. My favorite part was riding past the music academy where we could hear beautiful music ringing out of the upper windows. We also had a little traffic jam with some of the gondolas, one of which had an accordion player on it! That was a highlight, for sure.

All of the gondoliers know each other and yell to each other in a friendly way as they pass. They use their one oar to scoot off of buildings and other boats as they go through narrow canals. They really do wear stripes and, when in the sun, straw hats.

blog photo-gondola traffic

I bought a purple necklace at one of the many shops, made of Venician glass. I sat in the square near the funny statue of a man conquering a crocodile, and drank a cafe latte. Lattes are called something different in every country, and Mommy’s order of coffee with cream was always confusing!

We kept some old bread in our pockets for feeding pigeons (one of my favorite things about everywhere we went!) and ended up having a blast near the end of our day in Venice, feeding the pigeons of St. Marc’s Square. Pigeons were landing on our arms and heads and shoulders and eating out of our hands. It was really fun.

There was one woman in the middle of the square who had lots of soft bread crumbs and the birds positively flocked to her. They even started attacking her boyfriend’s backpack where the bread was being kept! After a while, we ran out of bread and they let us use some of theirs.

blog photo-feeding pigeons

The next morning, the coffee was still hot when we got up. Daddy slipped out around dawn to photograph the canal. He said the boats were just unloading at the markets, the gondolas were being prepared for the day and he only saw a total of ten or fifteen people the whole time he was out. But, in a narrow alley, when he came upon one, solitary person, who was it? You get one guess.

At this point, he and Veriato finally exchanged contact information. He was flying out that day as well, but we were heading to Moscow and he was going to Madrid. Sadly, this did turn out to be our final encounter with the Waldo. For now!

We had to take the vaporetto straight to the bus station and the bus straight tot the Marco Polo Airport. Lots of “Marco?” “Polo!” jokes ensued en route.

Moscow

Moscow

We flew from Venice to Moscow and spent our entire time in Moscow “power walking” through the enormous airport to our gate. When we got to the gate, they were already boarding, so we hopped on our flight to Riga. The airport in Moscow had English announcements on intercom, non-stop, so you felt a bit like you were in a Dharma training center. The flight boarded about twenty-minutes early, so we didn’t have time to even stop and breathe. When we got on our plane, I was famished. They tossed us boxed sandwiches (three slices of bread, one thin slice of chicken, cheese and pickles) and I devoured it with a cup of coffee. I don’t even like cheese!

Riga

Riga

We have now been in Riga for two days and I love it here. Thankfully, our time in Latvia is going at a slower pace than the firs part of our journey. We went to Turaida Castle in Sigulda today. It is around 1,000 years old still stands, strong and authentic. We climbed to the top of the tower and, though it was VERY cold and windy up there, the view was worth the climb. I had never been to a real castle before, so that was another “first” for me!

Got to go to bed now. Pancakes and visa appointments in the morning…

Turaida Castle

Turaida Castle

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