Living in the Center

Living in the Center

How many different places have you lived in your life?


Tērbatas Iela

Tērbatas 33/35

I have just moved into my 21st dwelling during my time here on earth. Four more, and I get a prize, preferably a silver chalice with commemorative leaves.

Yes, we have officially left the beautiful Miera neighborhood and become city center dwellers by obtaining a flat on Tērbatas iela. The obvious question is, why did we move?

The main reason is because of the maintenance required in surviving winters on Miera. For those who don’t know, the house had wood heating with one big stove in one part of the house, and another smaller one in the main living room. Neither one was adequate to really provide warmth against the huge drafty windows and these dark Latvian winters.

View from Miera

We will certainly miss the view and the greenery of that neighborhood, but we only live about a kilometer away, so it is easy to get back if needed. One weird thing I have noticed about living in Riga is that everything seems so local. For example, when we lived on Krasta iela, we would go to the Central Market for produce and food regularly. But since we have left that neighborhood, we very rarely get down there. It isn’t that far, but you just don’t go where you don’t have to—especially in these Covid times.

The new flat is a little smaller than the Miera dwelling, but we were able to rent a small storage space in the cellar (pagrabs) and it is nice to have bicycle parking in the yard (pagalms). The layout is also a bit more practical. It has a very cool window in the extensively long hallway with extremely high ceilings. We could sublet the top 2 meters of the flat and still have enough room to breathe.

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More about the Flat

In our building on the first floor, there is a Top! supermarket (Your neighborhood store with more!), which is super convenient, and since we are in the city center, everything feels very close. We live on the 3rd floor, and another perk is that we have an elevator.

However, there is a certain sense of claustrophobia I get when I realize how hard it is to get out of the center once you live here. If I go for a bike ride, and I want to get out of Riga, it takes forever. There is not much greenery on the streets, but fortunately we are just a few blocks from the lovely Vērmanes Dārzs (garden), so there is a place for Hanna to play.

The layout here is much better than the Miera flat. Our new kitchen is much more spacious and useful than the narrow space we left behind. And the bathroom has a nice big bathtub which is a precious luxury that we will not soon take for granted. Karu also got a huge room with a gigantic king-sized bed that was included. Lucky kid!

The Neighborhood

Rita says that this is a nice neighborhood and that there are lots of ad agencies and such nearby, so during the day we see lots of smartly dressed people doing smart things.

I mostly get out in the evening for dog walks when there are not many people roaming the streets. There are always dog walkers though. It is like a veritable dog show all day with purebreeds to spare!

I was never a dog person, but I kind of get the appeal. I write this as Jacques the Cat is meowing loudly in the hallway.

New Riga Theater

We also live near the New Riga Theater. Currently, they perform (well not now because… Covid) on Miera, but the original theater is being reconstructed and is slated to open in a couple of years. Right now, it looks like it has seen better days.

Because of the current lockdown situation, it is hard to say how lively the neighborhood will be when things are back to normal. We spent a few evenings here in the summer when they closed the street to automobile traffic and made it for pedestrians only. I am hoping we have this again, although apparently locals complained because of light and noise pollution.


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Other Stuff

I know I am not supposed to talk about this, but I am pretty sure this place is a bit haunted. We have broken more things since moving here than I have ever broken before. And not just me. A shelf fell off the wall, the mirror makes weird noises… and the cat will meow randomly at random shadows.

I don’t feel like there is evil here, but just something a little off. The house is a historical landmark, and I recall commenting after they redid the facade how much I liked this place. It has dragons on it. The architect is a famous Latvian, Konstantīns Pēkšēns.

The view

The biggest downside is that there is no view. In our previous apartment, we had huge windows that looked out over the rooftops of the neighboring buildings. We could see trees and towers and the Laima chocolate factory. Here, we see the yard and the interior of our building with lots of windows and barely any sky. No trees. No green.

But it is silent. Other than the reconstruction going on upstairs and the Germany partiers below us, this place is really quiet. On top of that, we live just of Lāčplēša iela, and this is one of the few Riga streets that has a bike lane! Cycling in the center has never been easier! My work office is just over 4 blocks away.

I am not sure how long we will stay here, but so far so good.

Side Note:

I hope you are doing well in the midsts of this Covid Pandemic. I see more and more headlines about how the vaccines are arriving, and hope is nigh. Trump has officially lost the election, and perhaps all that noise will end soon.

Christmas is almost here, but there isn’t too much to liven the spirits. The winter darkness has set in, and the city is much quieter than usual.

2020 will soon be in the past, a memory and monument to how terrible a year can be. I just hope we do not see it surpassed in my lifetime.

I send a special greeting out to all the teachers who have sacrificed so much for so little during this past year. I feel this survivor guilt because I left teaching behind after my back surgery last year, and have only heard stories of the battles with technology and Zoom and all the rest. It does not sound easy. Teaching never was easy, and this has just made it that much harder.

I also value our health care workers more than ever. My own family doctor here in Latvia has been so kind and good to me as I have adjusted to life here. But she is overworked and underpaid like so many other hard working people in this world. I keep hoping that this crisis will reset our values to help us see who is really important and valuable, but I think that we will continue to funnel our hard earned money to those who have learned how to manipulate the system and continue to thrive on greed.

Oh well.

Some additional doings

We had an outdoor Thanksgiving walk with the Grasmanis family. This was our way of celebrating, but avoiding Covid. I made chicken gravy sandwiches… it tasted a bit like Thanksgiving. Balsam in the park helped a lot!

Latvian independence day (November 18) came and went. I walked by the monument which was lit up in many colors. Some people were there laying flowers and just listening to Prāta Vētra. It was quiet but moving.

Luckily museums have remained open, so Rita and I were able to take in some lovely art at the Zuzeum and National Gallery. We also drove to a cold, frozen beach in Bolderāja (Karu wrote a post about it!)


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