Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Roman Holiday: From Riga to Rome

We just returned home from our great mystery trip!

We went to ROME!

We booked a mad trip and toured the Ancient, Eternal City for about 40 hours. We squeezed in magnificent views of the great Coliseum, sat on the Spanish Steps, ate gelato at Trevi Fountain, and walked thru the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica, in a whirl wind. Sadly, we chose not to enter the Roman Forum, instead we caught a really impressive view of it from the hilltop and still managed to take some great shots of ancient history.

Roman Forum

Honestly, the trip was somewhat EXHAUSTING. Not only were we dragging our own tails behind us…..
we were dragging the kids’ tails, too. It was worth it!

Let me tell you about those Romans! They are great people! Jekabs and I have crinkled our noses and furrowed our eyebrows in memory of how unkind and ungrateful the Venetians Italians were towards tourists when we visited Venice 5 years ago. So, I was not looking forward to mingling with the locals. But, the Roman Italians…..they are fine folks! They are CRAZY SCARY drivers, but mighty fine people. Our first breakfast, at a cafĂ©, Christian had a complete fit. Instead of giving us dirty looks, we had local people winking at Christian and trying to talk to him.


Spanish Steps

Trevi Fountain

Piazza Navona

Entering St. Peter's Square 

St. Peter's Square

St. Peter's Basilica

Inside St. Peter's Basilica


I am putting this next paragraph last because it is far too weighty for me to write and then expect anyone, including myself, to be cheerful about reading of our vacation in Rome.

Unfortunately, minutes before boarding the plane (on the way there) I received one of those heart pounding emails, this one came from my sister, Aleasha, asking me to call her as soon as I had a chance. I knew it would be bad news since you wouldn’t just ask someone to call you, internationally, for some minor details. So, I made the call and she tearfully told me that our uncle Cris had died late that night. Cris Mitchek, one of my dad’s brothers, thrown from a car and in an instant….gone from the world. So, I dedicate this trip and the memories we have from it, to my uncle Cris, whose life just ended. And to my dad’s sibling group, a total of 10 boys and 3 girls, I pray for comfort as they experience a new chapter of grief as they mourn thru the first loss of a brother.

Cris Mitchek
June 27, 1960 - July 17, 2011


And I am going to interject and say, if you haven’t thought recently (or ever) about your salvation, you better do it now.  There is never going to be a better day or a better time. Consider how many people you know who have lost their lives in unpredictable and instant moments. If you know that God is chasing after your heart, as I believe He is for all of us, you sure as hell better respond and let Him in. It is far too risky of you to ignore your need for salvation, that only Jesus Christ has been appointed to give. I hope you will pray about that now.

Man, I'm falling WAY behind in my posting!

Hola, Sveiki, Howdy, Chau!

Time is flying!

Over last weekend (referring to the weekend of July 16th) we hosted Naomi and Peteris (for their Latvian Wedding Celebration Reception) and their absolutely delightful friends, Steph and Dave.  Loved them from the moment they showed up on the doorstep! I just want to brag on them and tell you that they were the perfect house guests: friendly, humorous, appreciative, considerate, etc. (I suppose that is a hint to all our future houseguests!.....hehehe) We really enjoyed their stay.
Steph and Dave

In fact, we really thought that we would like to go ahead and adopt ALL of their friends and Naomi's family who came to Latvia from Great Britain. Just a really great group of people.

There is a lot to remember about the weekend activities: spending a couple of days at the beach with everyone, staying out until 1:00 a.m. for too many nights in a row and finally, on Monday, feeling as though I was so tired I couldn't handle the burden of being awake any longer, and then the impressive wedding reception. Considering the reception was the "Crown Jewel" of the weekend, I'll go ahead and jump into the details.

Jekabs and I were really impressed by the way Naomi decorated the place. (I know there were others who helped her, but hey, she's the Queen of the Party, so I'll just give her the credit!) Do you know what you can find laying around an old farm? TREASURES! Old Treasures. There were old cream jugs, milk jars, antique stools, other jugs, and my antique weight scale. She dug them out of the long grass and brilliantly displayed them around the tables.

Again, I am really impressed by the game planning in Latvia. My favorite was this:

Peteris is blindfolded and verbally instructed by Naomi on where to step to pick up each of the flowers in the vases. It was a ton of fun to watch!

In the below picture, guests were asked to write on paper something they intend to do for P & N over the next year. Then, all the notes were attached to a dart board and "selected" by throwing darts.

Other Photos
Did I mention that Naomi is one of 5 British Blonde Beauties? (4 sisters and a beautiful mamma)
I wish I had a picture of all of them together

I recommend, that if you have access to Peteris' FB, that you check out his wedding reception photos there. Jekabs is tagged in some of the pics.

Last week we spent a night out at Jekabs' uncle, Elijs', vacation home in the country. The place was breathtaking, a jewel tucked in the woods. See for yourself:

This special "motorbike-tractor" was made
 by Jekabs' grandfather. 

Elijs built this sauna! I think it is a beautiful building. 
Jekabs and I spent a couple of hours in here sweating out the impurities in our souls...errrr....I mean pores!

A couple of shots from Cesis, Latvia. 


Isaac's favorite 2nd cousin, Jonatans

Remember me telling you how great Dave and Steph were (our houseguests from London).......they remembered over the weekend that snapdragons were my favorite flower and brought these to me when they left! So thoughtful!

Loving Living in Latvia,
Although Leaving Latvia soon,


P.S. Within a few minutes I'll be following up with our Mystery Vacation Photos!

Maybe this is what people have in mind when they imagine what Latvia looks like.