To take nothing but photographs, and leave nothing but footprints.
California Roadtrip 2015: Postcards from Solvang
On a tour of mission churches in California, we stopped to eat and shop at a tiny village called Solvang (Danish for 'sunny field'). It is a beautiful little city nestled in
the Santa Ynez Valley of California. We went back the following day to explore the city. The village retains its authentic Danish look with horse drawn wagons,
windmills, Danish and Northern European style architecture and Hans Christian Andersen Park, Danish pastry shops and bakeries, and quaint shops. Okay, I was disappointed with the food and the pastries, but I enjoyed photographing this beautiful town. And of course, nature added to the fairy-tale look and feel of the village.
On a recent trip to the Baltic, I had the chance to visit the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia, one of the oldest and largest open-air museums in Europe. It’s located on the banks of Lake Jugla and just 30-minutes drive from downtown Riga. The museum was established in 1924 and had collected 118 historical buildings from all over Latvia. Information as to when and where the building was built and when it was added to the museum is posted on each building.
On a beautiful clear day, with blue skies and fresh air in abundance with temperature in the mid-60s Fahrenheit, I expected a few visitors around, but there seemed to be no other visitors but our group. Which is strange since there were lots of tourists in the Old Town, Riga about eighteen kilometers away.
After the museum entrance, we entered the first building - a barn with a collection of ancient wooden carriages on display. But the information posted on the building describes it as Roadhouse Pub built in the district of Ba…
I spent the last few days traveling across the Baltic, to the towns of Tallinn, Estonia; Riga, Latvia, and Vilnius, Lithuania. These Baltic states have one thing in common; an Old Town, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. I saw the greenest forest as we traveled from Latvia to Lithuania. Towering trees, conifers and pine trees covered the roadsides. But approaching Vilnius the road widened and the city was dotted with grey concrete-block apartment buildings or townhomes. We passed high-rise and commercial buildings before reaching the town center where our hotel was located. My arrival in Vilnius coincided with the biggest street festival. Since the festival was not on my itinerary, I asked the locals and vendors what was going on. I was told that it was some kind of international festival where people from different countries bring their crafts and food to sell. And there began my adventure in Vilnius walking the small cobbled street alive with food tents, tables, and chair…
I was excited to arrive at the architecturally bejeweled town of Riga, the capital city of Latvia called the Paris of the Baltic and designated as the European Capital of Culture for 2014. Our guided tour of the city was not scheduled until the next day. After a quick change of clothes, I walked to Vermanes Park across the hotel and spent my free time observing the locals. On the benches of an open concert stage, I saw young men stretching and using the benches as an obstacle course for their late afternoon workout (I’d guessed). Glad that I was not tempted to get ice-cream from the bright pink colored ice-cream place around the corner, offering tubs of ice-cream and cookies before dinner because I was looking forward to having Latvian food for dinner. In the short time I spent in the park, I found Riga to be a lively, beautiful and very safe-feeling city.
I then met up with the group and walked to “Alkimikis” brewery/restaurant, housed at an old wooden building but with a modern int…