Baltic Postcards – Autumn is taking over

Autumn In Kronvalda Parks

Dear friends,

After an extremely cold winter, followed by an extremely hot summer, autumn is now slowly taking control of Riga. The temperature is dropping, and we had quite some rain (even though we did not fully notice that, since we have been out of the countries for most of it until now). But on the nice days, you can really see the beauty of autumn right here in the park. The changing colours of the trees, the fallen leafs and the locals collecting chestnuts and acorns from the ground. Riga is showing us another facet of life here, and now that the heating in the building is switched on again, we like it.

For the rest, all is well.

All the best,
A.

Things To Do In Istanbul When You Have Less Than A Day

Arriving in Istanbul at Ataturk airport on a domestic flight around 9 pm on a Monday, does not give you the feeling you’re entering a hectic and lively metropolis. Having to register a damaged baggage claim does not help, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Fortunately, our taxi-driver is obviously still frustrated about a missed Formula 1 pilot career, so in about 20 minutes we’re at the Ceylan InterContinental. Thanks to a gold colored IC Ambassador card, something definitely worth its purchase value if you stay more than 5 nights a year in an InterContinental Group hotel, we get a room upgrade for free. In this case it means a room on the 18th floor with a view over the Bosporus. Nice.
Continue reading

Not Jezebel, But Maybe Someone Else

Sometimes, when holidaying, you get confronted with things that you don’t like, worry about, but have no idea how you can fix it. In the otherwise beautiful area in Turkey where I am right now, there is quite a large population of stray dogs. It seems that there has been a government run sterilization program, but still there are a lot of dogs roaming free. It seems they have found a way of coexistence with the local population. But sometimes, one of them is taken out of the streets by tourists, to be left at the holiday home or where ever when the fun is over. Today I met one of these, and taking her home with us would have been an option. The problem is that it doesn’t solve anything. And starting there, where would you stop? Why ‘rescue’ this one, and not the many others which apart from being used to living in the wild an being a bit dirty, seem very well behaved and not disease ridden. And what about back home in Latvia. The animal shelter in Riga is overflowing with abandoned dogs, all of which are in need of a good home and safe life. And there are many reasons why we cannot rescue them all: lack of funds, lack of time, lack of enough room in our apartment.

But Jezebel, as a lady in the park here had called her, broke my heart this morning. Her big sweet eyes, her looking for protection of being taken to a veterinarian and a shelter without hope for a long and happy future. It will stay with me for a long time, and I hope she finds a good life. And when we’re back home, maybe we take a dog from the shelter, so that our B has a friend. It might be time he shares some of his luck of being loved and cared for with another dog.

A Reading Trial

The first year of mandatory classes of German in Dutch education, I was a still a youthful bragger. I was thirteen at the time, and basically thought I could take on anything. So when we had to make our reading lists – yes, literature was part of the language course – I aimed high and put Kafka’s The Trial on it. In German, obviously. When my teacher tried to tell me that this book was maybe a bit too difficult to start with, and actually even the students that were 3-4 years older than I was didn’t normally pick it for their lists, of course I did not listen. So, I got the book out of the school library, and started reading.

I think I never got further than the first page. The story, the German language, it was all a bit too much. But, in the back of my mind, this stuck with me. At least, that I found out when I recently saw The Complete Novels of Kafka in the book store. And this time, more than 2 decades later, I am finally reading it. It’s still a bit of a struggle, because it is a bit long-winded, but at least I seem to be getting the point this time around. And that long-windedness seems to be intentional, to sketch the struggles of K in his trial.