COUNTRY 26: Lithuania, Real is Beautiful 

Dogs cannot make dreams come true — people must do that. – Lithuanian Proverb

Well, we’ll, well.. Our  traveling family has a dog. We kind of know that our dog didn’t make us travel to a lot of awesome countries and made us realize our travel goals.  We are avid advocate of the necessity of goal setting. Set goals. Live the life you imagined. 

We’re glad to have made it to Lithuania. Positively surprising, this country indeed is. We visited two cities, Vilnius (the capital city) and Kaunas. We walked around these cities and for whatever reasons, the kids were very playful and carefree.  Even the traveling parents has lots of time for romance, in between churches, museums and monuments. 

Full Day City Tour in Vilnius means kids playing half the time!
We celebrated our youngest traveller’s 5th birthday in a very petite  ice cream and cake shop. 

She celebrated her 5th birthday in Lithuania 🇱🇹! She says this a lot 😕
Basketball and Trampoline, that’s a great way to celebrate 5th birthday, right?
Of course, we had fun exploring a new city for another year of our little explorer’s adventures. 
Read books and drink coffee. Those words are music to our ears when we had a long day exploring. The locals and residents are still heavy on reading in this country, cafes are so beautiful to observe and to just relax and enjoy a good cup of coffee and books. We took with us a lot of books home, too. 
Beautiful City, Books and Coffee

Exploring another city in Lithuania, Kaunas is the second-largest city, former citadel of Russian Empire, temporary capital of Lithuania during the interwar period, point of intersection of all main roads. In addition to all historic infrastructure, plazas and monuments, the  landscape is magnificent. 

Kaunas is seriously gorgeous!
Walking around Kaunas, there were a lot of stops to appreciate the landscape
Oh, the Ant and the Grasshopper story, it may look like. But did you know that Vladislavas Starevicius is the first to creat masterpieces in puppet animation?! She learned that while eating a bag of fresh strawberries we got for less than a euro.
If this country is a person, Lithuania is beautiful inside and outside. Do you agree? 




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COUNTRY 25: Latvia, Best Enjoyed Slowly…(Or Quick and Dreamy!) 

Promised berries will not fill the basket.- Latvian Proverb

 

There are no promises for  family satisfaction. Only commitment and lots of goal setting. In this case, plans how to get berries to fill our basket! It’s either we want baskets full of berries or not. No half hearted berry lover, right! 

There is however, best way to enjoy life… Slowly or quick and dirty… hoops, family blog… uhhmm quick and dreamy! 

With this in mind, Latvia! A very musical, creative, artistic, spectacularly cold country. 
First.. enjoy slowly. Get to know the country. 

Latvia is a not-so-big  country by the  the Baltic Sea . Come on, check it out. It’s really a country! Oh the occupation regimes seems endless… In early times, it was occupied by Balts, and was later ruled by Vikings, Germans, Poland, Sweden, and Russia. It only became an independent country in 1918.  (Corrected by our favorite Rebel Travel Family from Latvia, so this should be accurate. – Advanced Happy 100 Years of Independence, Latvia! Exciting year ahead.)  That’s barely like a person who discovered traveling to new places  and enjoying new found freedom after series of boarding schools after schools after school after 8-to-5 corporate slavery. 

A slow taste of Latvia and you’ll definitely crave for more (oh please stop me with the innuendos!)

We stayed in Riga, the capital city, for ten days. Our eldest traveller stayed with a host family for a Youth Choir trip while we stayed in the heart of the Old Town of Riga. She had a lot of fun with her host family she didn’t want to leave. They are all so musically inclined, something missing from her real family. We were sure that if they offered her to stay for a longer time even after the scheduled choir concerts, she would have said stayed. Sending all gratitude and love to  this fantastic Latvian family 

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We didn’t see nor appreciate how green the city was. We visited March, beginning of spring. Hence, our desire to go back during summer season. Another wish list in our growing travel to do list with family. 
We did however stayed indoors a lot a experienced a taste of Riga, literally and figuratively. 
 

The Riga Music School…where we left our eldest musically inclined traveler with fellow musicians and off she goes on her own for a week or so…
These kids are just happy being in churches. This one though, St. Peter’s Cathedral, we attended the service :: her choir sang during the service!
Overlooking the magnificent view of Riga Old Town are 4.1 million books in 50 languages, that’s the National Library of Latvia! Hey, a culture nurturing books and reading books, we’re hooked!
We always make it a point to visit the local market when we visit a new country or a new places. Like tourist attractions, there are lots to learn about markets and local products. Plus, cheaper and fresher home cooked meals! #RigaCentralMarket is located at the center of Riga and is the largest and, duh, #centralmarket 😀which is also one of the largest in Europe and probably the most advanced market in the world. Imagine, it’s built with the German army aircraft hangars. This food specialist dad and the quality assurance mom agrees! The experience is really one of the kind, the wet market is not very dry… in a great way! ❤️
The Railway Bridge, the bridge across #riverdaugava, inaugurated 1914 and illuminated since 2007 with two modes, normal and holidays. Daily illumination at night time is blue lights, during holiday is blue and white lights! But hey, we wouldn’t know! We only see bridges daytime, before kids bedtime. 🤣 . .
We need houses as we need clothes, architecture stimulates fashion. It’s like hunger and thirst — you need them both. – Karl Lagerfeld Art and architecture immersion in Art Nouveau District, #riga the second time around is more love! ❤️

The more we stay in Latvia, the more we were hooked. Off we got on the trains and enjoyed this super affordable public transportation. 

Oh the places we’ve been around Latvia

Out of Riga, maybe our quick and dreamy version of Latvia. We head on to Jumarla for three days to freeze our beautiful .. faces.. by the Baltic Sea. Such a shame we didn’t get to swim and see the beach crowded with hot bodies. There still saw  lot of tourists walking by the beach.

 

It won’t be our #turknoy #familyadventure if we don’t include a visit to the beach soaked in rain in freezing temperature. 😘🤣 Hello Baltic Sea!
There was really no one in the streets of #Kemeri when we visited. And we took a picture of their attraction – The water tank! It was a fun walk with the family in the cold in a very quiet village. Priceless! ❤️
 
We took more trains and visited more quiet towns, we have enjoyed the serenity and silence of empty streets.  The kids definitely has their share of echoing screams. We felt like we were in the opening credits of a country movie, eerie silence, solitude. We’ll, it was fun, cold experience. 

Oh the food, wine, cheese and coffee! Let’s not elaborate on that in this blog or we might go booking a ticket to Latvia for a hot wine and salmon. We ate a lot of meat, too. It might be not politically correct to post photos of them, you know…. pork. 

Culinary Journey for all types of senses – burp!

No matter how you travel Latvia or any country in particular , slow or quick, night or day, fast food or fine dining, herbivore or carnivore, medium rare or well done, train or bus, music or story, travel it your own unique busy way! Just be  alive. Let’s be busy being alive



Have you been to Latvia with kids? 

COUNTRY 24: Epic Estonia? Exactly! 

 “He who does not jump into water will not learn to swim.” – Estonian Proverb 



Tallinn, Estonia

Our family stayed right in the middle of  Tallinn’s Old Town. Needless to say, we  were deeply fascinated. We can  almost hear and  feel the stories of  Tallinn’s Old Town, one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and,  it seems  like  another super awesome  tick in our  UNESCO World Heritage Sites  family bucketlist.

Tallinn Old Town is captivating like our little lady traveller

 

Ghost stories, medieval history lessons, perfect view, another day well spent with kids… *swooonnnnn*

Of course,we will  not walkthrough our family travel blog readers with options on how to explore Old Town  of this  fantastic city.  When it comes to travel and  to life,  one family’s logic is another family’s crazy.

We would,  however, highlight what makes our family travel  memorable. After all, this blog, at  the very least, is a testament that we can travel to  places we’ve never imagined  if we set our goals together  as family.

When we travel, we are inclined to be biased to cities or countries who have the culture of reading. Reading is a symptom of desire to learn and innovate.  That’s really important to  develop anyone or any  place.

So, guess what we think of Tallinn, Estonia. We stayed one full  day at the Estonian Children Literature Centre, with lots of reading and creative activities for our kids, for free!  Yes, not  every kid can travel like our kids do (that’s why our kids are very grateful day in, day out… gratitude is our top family value,  right next  to faith.) But, every kid should have access to this kind of  learning environment. How we wish every city, province, state or territory would provide this to every kid, free read,  free to  play, free to imagine! The world would  be  a way  better place.

I guess,  what we are saying,  check out what this Literature Centre is about.

Estonian Children Literature Centre, Free, Fun, Fabulous
 


Tartu, Estonia

After having stimulating medieval lessons in Tallinn, we had  quite  an   impression of Estonia.  Much more when we visited  Tartu, the second largest city of the country and known as the intellectual centre of the country!

 

We breezed through walking around  Old Town, University of  Tartu, Toomemagi Park among others.   It’s not another  town in Europe for  us. We enjoyed staring at famous people’s statues  and reading the history behind them.

Again for us, our family travel adventure highlight is  the modern Science Centre AHHAA, full hands-on exhibits and the 4D cinema.


Science Centre AHHAA: This is the way to build a wall – take that D Trump.
With science, nothing is possible. Lift up a car, why don’t we?!


Epic Estonia has been viewed by the some travel blogs to be the worst tourism slogan because of how the small the country is. But hey, we’ve been to Estonia and it’s not the country’s size which decides how epic the country could be. He possibilities, the intellectual and creative opportunities, exactly epic!  

How did we bring “Epic” home with us?!! Books about Estonia!