It is a strange and amazing thing to come back to a place where you used to live more than 15 years ago. Though it was merely for my grandparents' pension issues in VSAA and Citadele bank, that I came to Riga, it felt like a dream-like, long-awaited rendezvous.

Day 1

We came from Lithuania late on Tuesday, July 8th and camped on a high river bank on the other side of the bridge overlooking Jūrmala, the world's famous resort place on the Baltic sea shore. In the morning we headed for Riga, which was just about 15 km away.

The house where my grandparents used to live, Lielvardes iela, 101. Second floor, the bedroom window from where granny used to peep out waiting for us when we came for vacation every other summer from Kamchatka before 1997. The long spacious recessed balcony where granny taught me how to wash the floor :)

The path leading to the school where I studied in 1995: Rigas 80. Vidusskola

Mēbeļu Nams — 'The Furniture House', a big department store with furniture and lots of interesting household items to buy. We followed the road my grandpa used to walk along to buy a morning newspaper or to go to the market...We bought a garden chair and a summer shower gadget for camping in the Mēbeļu Nams and a nightgown for my granny and a beer mug with a Latvian ornament for my Dad in an antique shop in the market, which looked like it hasn't changed since the Soviet times.

Even though almost everyone in Latvia speaks Russian, it is no use expecting to be understood or respected in a state institution like VSAA (The State Social Insurance Agency) if you are Russian and don't speak the Latvian language. Russians are in disgrace and thought to be evil invaders from the past. Latvia is very proud to be an independent European country, let alone the fact that nobody of the public servants speaks English and traffic cops literally ask for a bribe. Thus, upon entering Jūrmala the same evening, we were stopped by the local traffic police. We happened not to have the 1 Euro pass required to enter the area and they encouraged us to offer them a 20 Ls bribe, the fee being 40 Ls (60 Euro).

A nice evening walk in the old town with surprisingly lots of stuff going on on Tuesday…

Nemo campsite on the abandoned health resort grounds in Jūrmala where we stayed for the night and had a late picnic-dinner on the beach.