“Riga..? Where is it..? ”  that is the first reaction of my coworkers, when I said I was planning a visit to this city. Riga is not a popular tourist destination, at least for the people of Asia. But, not famous does not mean not beautiful. City on the banks of the Daugava River is an important city, because it has a very active trading port since the Middle Ages.

Small Modern Harbor

Latvia is a unique country, because it had changed three rulers: Germany, the Kingdom of Sweden, and the Soviet Union, before finally free to be the state itself. The capital city, Riga, into a city with considerable industrial progress, especially as the port becomes an important place for the traffic of goods between the Baltic states and Europe. Riga residents generally use two languages, namely Russia and Latvia, but many young people who master the English language.

I went with two friends. We departed from Orebro, Sweden, towards Stockholm. Ship departs from Stockholm late afternoon and will arrive in the port of Riga at 9 am the next morning. We can enjoy the islands around Stockholm are skipped ship. At night, we were able to enjoy live music in the bar.

Promptly at 9 am, the ship docked at the Port of Riga. The wind and the scorching heat of the sun directly welcomed the four of us. When it was summer and temperatures approaching 30 degrees Celsius. Because I’m used to the hot summer temperatures tend Swedish cool and cold, summer heat that actually makes me kind of shocked.

Small town many years been a territory of the Kingdom of Sweden and later became part of the Soviet Union, it looks modern. Around the harbor is an office area with some towering buildings. There is a bridge connecting Riga region are separated by the River Daugava.

The streets were originally plated asphalt, now replaced with paving blocks. Tall buildings and modern now transformed into old houses walled, and only two floors high. A distance of several hundred meters away, there are offices and industrial center. It only takes 10 minutes to cross the passage of time.

Faces on the Wall

Along the way the old town, a lot of buildings with architectural art nouvaeu (commonly referred to jugendstill which means youth style, a flow of the art world that affect architecture). Marked with forms inspired from flowers or plants, in the form motif snaking or spiral-tendrils on a pole or building decoration. The number of old buildings make this city received the title of world heritage by UNESCO. Even old buildings in this area are well maintained.

Riga city hall is one of the buildings with architectural jugendstill. Which makes it unique is the presence of diverse human face carved on the walls. I imagine, might be intimidating if walking in the area in the afternoon or evening foggy. Fog can effect the faces are moving

Old Town Churches

Entering the old city area, we can walk freely without trepidation, because motorized vehicles are not allowed to enter this area. Cafes and souvenir shops occupy old buildings. So interestingly, I got stopped many times to take photos or simply looked inside. From the map, I saw there were dozens of pictures of the church in the old town area. Many churches could be caused by a number of people from various countries who arrive in this port city.

Our first stop is the Church of St. James. This is the only Catholic church were left standing after Riga was under the rule of the Soviet Union. Some churches converted to the Lutheran church, when Riga became part of Sweden. Others become Orthodox Catholic Church, when it became part of the Soviet Union.

I immediately saw the table displaying a variety of cards that contains a set of saints and various prayers in the back of the card. All the prayers in the card is written in Russian. There seller rosary beside the card tables. Church elongated space looks a bit congested because of filled with tourists.

Out of St. James, our next destination was Riga Dom cathedral. The cathedral church is a Lutheran church, which was built around the 13th century. Riga Dom is the largest church in the Baltic states, the church building is circular and roofed dome has experienced an improvement in their life history. Although built in different centuries of the Church of St. James, the main building of the church is using the same raw material, red brick. This makes the churches in Riga looks uniform. Just by walking a few meters, has four churches I visited.

Lured by Amber Stone

In the summer the open market can be found along the streets of the old town. The goods are sold in the form of knit gloves and various cooking utensils made of wood. Apple wood, wood ash and cedar wood is made into a variety of equipment, such as spoon, spoon of sugar, and a jar of herbs. The shape is nice and light.

A few tablespoons of sugar and coffee I buy for souvenirs. I was served by the son of the owner of the kiosk, with fluent English. With agile, he explained, of any wood furniture was made. According to him, the equipment can be durable wood. Because, more often washed, further strengthen the timber.

There are also a few vendors selling matrioska, Russian dolls is said to bring good luck. Seller matrioska and gloves on average mothers who are old. Although not speak English, they are friendly and greet the fans in Russian.

One item that is dominant in the market of the old city is amber jewelry. Orange red rock is a rock taken from the Baltic Sea. Usually tied with the silver pendant, or a few small amber stones strung into a bracelet. This jewelry to my attention because it is unique. Not just the type of stone, but also the shape of the pendant.

I saw the shape of a frog pendant that can be swayed, like a hand puppet and twin fish. Ulle warned me to be careful when choosing jewelry amber, because there are sellers who mix it with similar colored glass. Not only sellers in the street, but also in the gift shop that looks more luxurious. After a long pick, I finally decided to buy two pendants, frog hand puppets and twin fish. Both are decorated with amber tied with silver.

Frankly, language becomes an obstacle to make transactions on the open market. Some tourists bargaining in the old way, write down the desired price on a piece of paper, then repaid by the seller to write down the price he gave

Ukraine Food Tasting

While down the road along the Daugava River, we reached the central market Riga, Centralirgus. From a distance, the shape of the market building was a bit odd, has a ceiling high enough. I missed surprise when my friend explained that the market occupies a former airplane hangar.

Here are sold fresh fruit and vegetables sold on a wooden table. Tea, coffee, and pastries in one block; clothing and accessories, even in the other blocks. Market atmosphere similar to the atmosphere of a wholesale market in Jakarta. Only, the market here is not muddy. I buy an ounce of biscuits and drinks named latsvi, fermented oat using baker’s yeast.

The sun was higher, the air is hotter, and we started to feel hungry. We found a pizza restaurant on the roadside. The place is quite large and crowded. It turns out, not just pizza that is served here. There are a variety of typical food of Eastern Europe, such as alias pelmeny fried dumplings (typical food Ukraine) and borscht (beet soup cold with sour cream).

I ordered a serving of borscht and fries. A bowl of fresh and chilled borscht feels very creamy, suitable eaten while hot air like this.

Important Notes:

  1. Riga is not too big, you can walk to enjoy the beauty of the city. Can also get around the city by bike. In some parts of the city, there are many bike rental places. You just put a coin in the machine at the rental facility. Once completed, you are free to return at a bike rental place anywhere.
  2. Riga also has some public transportation, such as trams, buses, and subways. Get tickets for trams and buses, complete with a map of the track at various kiosks throughout Riga, or at the Riga Central Station which is located not far from the main market. One-way ticket is 0.40 lats.
  3. The cost of a three star hotel in Riga ranging from $ 30
  4. Even if already a member of the European Union, Latvia retains its own currency, the lats
  5. The price of food is cheap. You just spent 10 lats for serving lunch.
  6. Jewelry amber you can buy at prices starting at 10 lats. Provide cash in an amount sufficient, because it is rather difficult to find stores that accept credit cards

 

 

 

 


Valencia, the third largest city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona. Besides being known as the city that hosts the world-class sporting events, such as football and Formula One Grand Prix, the city also saves the allure that may not often revealed. Split the River Turia, a city located in the east of the Iberian Peninsula, overlooking the Mediterranean bay is also known as a summer destination, cruise, and the city transit to get to the island is famous for its wild party, Ibiza.

Upbeat rhythmic dance music in Spanish, fulfilling a taxi which took me from the hotel to the city center. Holding the steering wheel, the driver hummed a song she turn on the video format of its smartphones. The taxi driver is handsome, the typical average Spanish man I have met. In contrast to most men of other European cities, Valencia men tend to be dark-skinned rather white, with curly hair and beard. Face of Mediterranean specialties.

My introduction to the Valencia starting from Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the largest city square, which is located right in front of city hall. “Valencia is a city that is awarded to the retired fighter, who has fought against the rebels Iberian, as a resting place. This town has been around since 138 BC, “said Alejandro, a guide who accompanied me explore the old town area of 169 hectares stretching it.

Ayuntamiento corner in this very busy. Fro locals mixed group of tourists cornucopia filled the pedestrian. Even so, I do not see the rush when walking, as is commonly seen in big cities during rush hour, the pursuit of time to get to the office. According to Alejandro, in addition to regional tourist center, this place is also a meeting point of the Valenciana.

Buildings on both sides of the road an average of medieval origin, with renaissance and gothic architecture, making the eyes do not stop admiring every detail is magnificent. Starting from the post office, an old cinema that plays classic films, up to the hotel.

Alejandro invited us to stop in traditional markets, Mercado Central, with its symbol doves. The building of the 8th century it became a trading center of fresh vegetables, fish, meats, various cheeses, olive oil, and wine. Mostly from local products. Valencia is one of the producers of fresh vegetables, namely from Albufera region. Seeing the diverse types of vegetables, among other things, the new shape I see here.

Alejandro treated me drink horchata, a kind of milk from chufa nuts. Plants that grow in Egypt is one of assimilation culinary tradition introduced by the Arabs. Usually eaten with fartons polo (a kind of large-sized éclair but) that tastes sweet, and then dipped in horchata.

One of the important relics that illustrate the ‘property’ of history of this city is building the Cathedral of Valencia. From the outside, the building looks like a terracotta-colored castle. Built in the 13th century, this place was once a temple in the Roman period, then became a cathedral.

Decorated with diverse architecture gothic, renaissance, baroque, neoclassic– illustrates how rich the history of Valencia. High pillars are Roman relics. It is said that the original trophy holy grail (the cup that Jesus used during the last supper) are stored here.

In the 8th century, as Medina bu-Tarab (City of Joy) or also called Balansiyya. The legacy that can still be found today include irrigation systems, culinary, to architecture greatly affects every city buildings, including decorating the pillars and geometric dome in the cathedral.

In medieval times, Valencia is a city of rich and highly developed trade. This is evident from the building dedicated as a meeting place for merchants, La Lotja de la Seda. I am amazed at the complexity of the spiral-shaped pillars, as high as 17 meters. Formerly, the traders who come from other cities, invited and hosted here. To impress them, rulers built this place as beautiful and expensive as possible with the dominant element of gold so that they are willing to invest in Valencia.

That period was touted as the city’s golden age. Its strategic location makes the Port of Valencia is quite advanced by the trade paper, silk, leather, ceramics, glass, silver up. In this same building, there is a courtroom for traders in arrears or act fraudulently.

Just behind the cathedral, the Plaza de la Virgen, Ale took me to watch the ceremony Water Court. Leaders across the Valencia region gathered to discuss about watering and irrigation. This discussion takes place every Thursday. It is a tradition that is still practiced today. Perhaps now the discussion is no longer done, just seremoninya still preserved. The irrigation system used in this city is also the traditional heritage of civilization.

In the square, hundreds of people had gathered await the seconds water court, since half an hour earlier. They are willing to stand long in the sun, while seremoninya only lasts for a few minutes. Me who gets to stand right behind the discussion, out of curiosity, that capture the moment on video. The ceremony was declared as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity (Patrimonio Cultural de la Humanidad Inmaterial).

One of the unique Valencia is a garden that unfolds divides the city in the former Turia River. The river is now no longer exists. This is because, in 1950, was once a great flood in the city. The government took the decision to divert the river to the southern outskirts of the city, and conjure former wide stream into the park.

Imagine, a former river stretches over 280 km. An area that has now become the park and city forest called Jardín del Turia. Modern buildings with a design that is futuristic yet constructed occupy this park, among others Bioparc, Oceanografic, museum of arts and sciences (Ciudad de les Artes Y Las Ciencias), opera and theater (Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia), Science Museum Principe Felipe , imax movie theater, exhibition hall (Hemisferic), garden gallery (Umbracle), and others. The building with the dominant element of this glass became the new icon of the modern Valencia.

The place is also home to the Valencian sports activities. Starting from jogging, running, biking, or simply walking enjoying the green city. Not surprisingly, many who call this city as a city with many bridges without water. When I walk through this park at night, in between the buildings of glass fluorescent lights, I felt carried to the middle of nowhere.

Another uniqueness is the city of Valencia oranges smelled fragrant and fresh. If normally in Indonesia I just see the orange tree plantation, here dotted around the city lined with orange trees  when I’m here in the middle of the fruitful November–. –or Orange tree in Spanish naranjas– like ornaments of junk, either in public places, along roads, in gardens heritage building complexes, as well as in the private grounds of local residents. That said, the orange trees was popularized by the Arabs in the 1300s. Although some say, the era before the orange trees are mostly found in cities in Spain. No wonder if Valencia is one of the largest citrus-producing city in Spain.

The fruits are large and brightly colored tempt me to pick them. However, I failed to do because of its height unattainable. According to local residents, although anyone is free picking, residents were interested in harvesting. Usually, only the tourists who are tempted to pluck and taste.

Once a year, the local government hired private firms to harvest the oranges are to be processed into orange marmalade jam and other processed foods. In the local culinary, oranges (and also lemon) indeed occupies an important position, as well as tomatoes and olive oil.

In one cafe that I frequent for example, I got a treat typical drink Agua de Valencia. Although the name agua, this drink is actually a cocktail made of a mixture of orange juice, sparkling wine, and mixed liquor. It feels … sweet, fresh, and bite! Unfortunately, should not drink too much.

Owner Café de Las Horas one place Agua de Valencia presenting the best in town this– welcomed me graciously. “The cafe is designed as a classic cafe, a blend of French-style cafes, tearooms typical British and American style cocktail drinking places,” said Marc, who designed the café with neo-baroque style, with red dominant color.

Valencia is a city beach. In summer, the beaches are only 15 minutes from the city center crowded by humans. Playa de la Malvarrosa and Playa de Las Arenas are two of the most popular beaches, as it has a very wide promenade and a row of eating places that pamper.

Valencia is to boost tourism through beach, with one of them to host the America’s Cup, the international sailing race. The government poured funds to build the club and dressing port. Cruise and yachts were coming to this city.

From the Port of Valencia there is a ferry that can take you to Ibiza, a small island known as the center of world celebrities’ nightclub destination. It took 3-5 hours to cross by ferry. Or, just 50 minutes flying. Unfortunately, Ibiza is only busy during the summer.

Paella is a Spanish food pride, coming from Valencia. This culinary introduced by the Arabs, who began rice farming in Valencia, in the 8th century. The name comes from the name paella special griddle used for cooking paella. Formerly, traditional paella cooked using wood-burning stoves.

One interesting experience was when I had the opportunity to learn to cook authentic paella in a restaurant which gives packages paella cooking courses, Escuela de Arroces Y Paella Valenciana in Calle Juristas. Under the direction of chef Benito, the group, consisting of three people, get a complete cooking equipment with the ingredients.

These materials include chicken, rabbit meat, shellfish, tomatoes, beans (garrofo-nut whose skin is white, tavella-sort beans, ferradurra-a sort of pea), saffron, rosemarry, paprika powder, and salt. Each material is inserted one by one into the pan. Once cooked fried chicken, and set aside. Besides laid in cooking, also placed in the ear rosemarry skillet so that smelled strong.

Before the rice is inserted, a frying pan that has been given 1 liter of water left out for 30 minutes so that the flavors to infuse into the broth. While waiting, we sat at the table, enjoying a drink, appetizer, while chatting with friends at the table.

After 30 minutes, we were called back to the kitchen. Seasoning split into two, turn the rice that is inserted into the middle. After that, the chef does not allow us to touch the rice in the slightest. While waiting, Nacho translators our cooking courses, playing music. He said that every year the citizens of Valencia hold a festival to cook paella, and they play the music. Then he demonstrated how the locals cook while partying. He invites us hand in hand, while humming a tare governance tat … to the music, and shook his foot, as if it was the custom when cooking paella Valencian. Obviously, when we cook with joy.

Meal time (either lunch or dinner) is a very pleasant moment here. In addition to the school paella, I enjoyed lunch at a casino the only one in the city. If normally in Jakarta and I had lunch at the latest at 12.00, then here’s a new lunch habits started at 14.00. Spot cannot be for a while, because the dishes came out one by one. The dish usually consists of three kinds of appetizers, among them the Valencian tomato with dried tuna, Russian salad, and fried calamari with sauce alioli (a kind of typical Spanish mayonnaise made from a mixture of eggs, garlic, and olive oil). His main course, arroz del Senoret (sort of paella with seafood ingredients), and dessert pudding flavored coffee. As a result, it took over 2 hours to finish all the food. From the very hungry, the stomach was immediately stuffed.

At that hour, also known as siesta time. At the weekend, the siesta is nap time. On weekdays, of course not possible to take a nap. Siesta interpreted as a break. Starting from 14.00, the workers returned to the office after 16:00 until the average working hours ended at 18:00 or 19:00. Another for the employees of a government office or a bank. They do not get siesta time, but they can leave the office at 15:00.

Because the afternoon had just finished lunch, it’s no wonder hour dinner was fairly late, which began at 21:00. Forced, eat my biological clock was adjusting hours of eating here. Again, with the first appetizer order, until dessert, plus a cocktail or a glass of sangria, a new dinner after midnight. Indeed, the day lasted too long in Valencia.

Tip Vacationing at Valencia:

  • City Tour Valencia could use the bikes rented on a few dedicated bike parking. Rent 1 hour only 1 euro for each multiple of the next hour pays 3 euros.
  • There are dozens of restaurants in the city center that provides cooking course paella. Paella cooking course fee of about 60 euros per person.
  • The time for the festive partying in Valencia is during the summer. Or, come in mid-March, when the holding Fallas Festival, the festival lasted five days, when all the locals out of the house, making hundreds of giant statue of paper and burn it. This festival marks the arrival of spring.
  • Do not miss a visit to Albufera Park, the largest national park in Europe. Beautiful lake, rice paddies and subtropical forest into the right destination for a romantic getaway. The distance is only 15 minutes by bus or car from downtown.

I’ve been obsessed with the balance of life to feel the need to apply them on each side of life, including when traveling. I realize this mission with my husband while visiting South Korea, in March. In addition to Seoul, we added Jeonju City is more calm and relaxed, to visit. No one chose, as the capital of Jeollabuk-do is determined by cittaslow International as its slow city South Korea.

The taxi driver who drove us from the bus terminal Jeonju pointing the right direction. He spoke in Korean language we do not understand. My eyes followed the direction of his hand. Without the need to understand the words he spoke, I was immediately blown away. From inside the cab of a moving fairly quickly on the highway, looking ocean hanok houses, a traditional Korean house, spread out pretty far as the eye can see.

That’s where our goal, Jeonju Hanok Village. Areas in the central city of Jeonju, where resides more than 800 hanok are still well preserved. This traditional building coupled nicely with several historic buildings relics of the Joseon Dynasty, the last dynasty that ruled Korea in 1392 – 1897. Can not wait it’s like to spend the night here.

After calling the residence directing our cab driver, we finally arrived in Saekdongjeogori Guesthouse. Actually, the main streets in Jeonju Hanok Village are wide enough to accommodate two cars passed. However, many also inn is located in a narrow alley, like our inn this, so it’s quite challenging to find.
Our specialty shaped small hanok. Inside there are four rooms that are rented to tourists. Touch wood and natural atmosphere combined with traditional design if brought us walked through time. We were like a couple Korea Joseon Dynasty eras with a warm resting at home. Homey!

Even though it was quite cold outside air because it has not fully entered into the spring, the atmosphere inside hamok it was warm. In fact, there is no heating. To be honest, I was worried about the cold at midnight. Moreover, in the room no beds, we slept on the floor paved with futon, like the traditional way Korean people.

Apparently, the warmth created in the hanok is derived from the floor that maintains the traditional system called ondol. This is how the Korean people heat their homes by channeling heat from a fireplace that is usually located at the back of the house. Warmer temperatures were spreading through the rocks on the bottom floor of hanok made of wood. That said, the ondol system has been used in Korea since the Bronze Age or around 1000 BC.

Journey to the Past

After refining the stuff, we decided to walk down the halls of the hanok bounded by a stone wall. For travelers with limited time, walking aimlessly in fact quite time-consuming. But, here the time seemed to slow down. We also walked around Jeonju Hanok Village is not too wide. Excitement we felt, when inadvertently find Gyeonggijeon Temple building, which previously only we look through the photos on the internet and travel brochures. It felt, enough to ‘pay’ for lost time.

Gyeonggijeon temple consists of several parts such as palaces, temples, monuments, and museums. This temple is one of the buildings that are quite popular Joseon Dynasty relics. Several historic buildings in this area is directly related to the family of Yi Seong-gye, the founder and first king of the Joseon Dynasty, who also came from Jeonju. In fact, it is said, in this temple of King Yejong placenta, king of the Joseon Dynasty 8, was buried, so it seems very personal.

This temple also housed the relics of the Joseon era as the official portrait of Yi Seong-gye and kings later, and books neatly arranged in the museum. Joseon Dynasty is known to set down the most influence on Korean culture today. Starting from the norm, ethics, languages and dialects, science, literature, and the economy is growing rapidly in this era.

Enjoy all the relics of the Joseon Dynasty, imperceptibly closer dusk, light golden yellow sun fills every corner of the village. We went back to explore the streets of the village. When arriving at Jeonjuhyanggyo Confucian School, the sound of stringed musical instrument sounds serene splitting silence. Besides us, there are only two other diners in the place that was once a school and a temple to the adherents of Confucianism in the Joseon era. Intrigued, I tried to find the source of the music.

The sound was coming from a booth in the same area. From the door cracks open, I saw a woman play the gayageum, a traditional Korean stringed instrument, in a small room of the sort of smoky incense. It was washed away. For local communities, gayageum not only for entertainment, but also as a means of meditation.

After satisfying curiosity, we went on a trip up the hill not far from Jeonjuhyanggyo Confucian School. Located at the highest point in Hanok Village that allows us to enjoy the sunset while permeates the stories behind the historic sites and Imokdae Omokdae shaped like a house on stilts. It’s romantic!

Omokdae a silent witness when Yi Seong-gye celebrated victory over its battle against Japanese troops during his career as a warlord, before founding Joseon. While Imokdae is where the ancestral Yi Seong-gye play war games with his friends.

Stuck in a place rich in history, accompanied by sunlight at dusk, make us delusional, if we both were in the Joseon era, what about our jobs?

Sound excerpts gayageum still sounded faint, the sun creates a golden yellow tinge beautiful chime in on hundreds of hanok. The air grew colder, but we are still reluctant to leave.

“You make a right choice. There are a lot of delicious foods in Jeonju !, “said a receptionist guesthouse where we stayed in Myeongdong, before we Jeonju. His remarks make us more excited to head to town status as Creative City of Gastronomy of UNESCO.

Jeonju indeed save a rich culinary tradition dating back centuries ago. Although the type of food is roughly equal to other areas in South Korea, taste different food. For example, the most famous Jeonju bibimbap throughout Korea. Rice mixed vegetables and meat has a flavor that tasted fresh. Arguably, bibimbap is the best I’ve ever eaten!

Kimchi in Jeonju equally steady. Thick marinade and flavor ingredients sea food is very strong. Kimchi in Korea does have a variety of flavors, depending upon the region. Perilously close to the south coast, the seafood flavor materials stronger and more viscous marinade.

No wonder the taste cuisine in this area feels fresher. Perhaps this comes from foodstuffs agricultural products in the city’s minimal residual industrial pollution. Vegetables, fruit, rice and ginseng from Jeonju judged to have the best quality in Korea.

Places in Jeonju only written in hangul letters, but to recognize a restaurant serving Korean dishes, quite easily. Visitors simply look at the exterior of the building. If there are large jars made of clay, meaning it provides a restaurant bibimbap, kimchi and other traditional Korean food. Because, kimchi which is in the process of fermentation is stored in jars that they put outside the restaurant.

Jeonju never stop spoiling our appetite. In addition to the main meals, snacks for sale are also very diverse. One of our favorite places was PNB bakery. Bakery that has become an icon of this Jeonju sell choco pie is very tasty. To be missed.

Want to make Korea Jeonju as a culinary destination, local government seriously introduce a variety of culinary wealth through a variety of festivals, such as Jeonju Bibimbap Festival and The International Fermented Food Expo held in Jeonju each year. Unfortunately, while there we did not find any festival.