First Impressions

Manic and information overload best describes our first week in Latvia. Trying to find our own home, opening banks accounts and finalising our UK tax and pension affairs are just some of the many tasks we have faced. Also coming to terms with the fact that we are not on holiday and that this is a permanent move is taking time to mentally adjust to. Role reversal is also taking place in my relationship with Inta. Whereas in the UK I took responsibility for sorting out most things, here due to my total inability to have any sort of conversation in Latvian, responsibility has fallen on Inta to translate everything. Shopping and every day stuff is fine, but trying to translate the technical specifications of a VW Golf or the legalities of buying a house are causing headaches and it comes as a welcome relief when the car salesman speaks English. I’m sure this is just a short term hiccup and normal service will resume in the future. However the concept of woman on top might prove to be an experience that I wish to continue with. Time will tell.

One thing I have done, is to thrown myself in to the Latvian connection with nature. Mint and camomile tea with organic honey is a delight. Have even been sleeping on buckwheat pillows. The pillow is filled with dried buckwheat grains which are about the weight of a grain of rice but rounder and are meant to have many health benefits. Inta is convinced she is getting a better nights sleep because I no longer snore. For those of you who are interested click here for more information. Next thing to try is the traditional black sauna. The name black sauna derives from the fact that the hot coals/stones in the sauna are heated by burning wood underneath them. Over years the smoke from the burning wood causes the walls of the sauna to become black. Hence the term “Black Sauna”. There is one tradition that I’m not sure about though, as it has appears to have links with some type of sado-masochistic ritual. Whilst in the sauna you or somebody else is supposed to flagellate you with branches of a tree, with leaves attached, silver birch being the preferred weapon of torture. Oh what the hell, when in Rome do as the Romans do.

The Latvians like their food fresh. In many a supermarket you can choose your own fish out of a tank of fish happily swimming about in less than spacious accommodation. s a great idea and something our UK supermarkets should adopt.

Check the prices,. There's trout, sturgeon and carp

Check the prices,. There’s trout, sturgeon and carp

Bit squashed in here

Bit squashed ion here

However today we went to the central market in Riga where you can just about buy anything. The Market is situated in 4 perhaps 4 old German Zeppelin hangers remaining from World War II. One hanger is occupied by fish sellers and to help the customers make a more informed choice they put live fish on display out of water. RSPCA would have a field day here. Walking by as the carp and sturgeon looked at you gasping for breath made me feel slightly uncomfortable. Live fish aside, this is a fantastic experience for a foodie. One problem though, Inta can’t translate the Latvian names of the fish so buying can become something of a lottery. We did manage to buy some halibut steaks though at 8.60 euros/kilo much cheaper than the UK.

House hunting has been fun and I hope we may have found something if we can do a deal with the vendors. After deciding to leave the UK we started searching the internet to see what was available. We wanted something with some land, with enough accommodation for our families and friends when they visit and no more than an hour from Riga. Well we found something that seemed perfect and we kept watching with trepidation in case it sold. Well it didn’t and we viewed it yesterday. It was an anxious drive to Limbazi, both of us worried in case it failed to meet our expectations. It was perfect, in fact much nicer than we could have anticipated. So how much, I can here you asking? Well for 2 houses, one which needs a total renovation, sat in 3.2 hectares of land, the asking price is £77,731. Yes, property prices are much cheaper in Latvia!!!! Hopefully I will be able to inform you in my next blog that we have a house. Keep tuned in.

New House

New House

New House

New House

Old House

Old House

Went car hunting today and found out that there is no market in Latvia for a used right hand drive Vauxhall Vectra 1.9 CDTi with only 58000 miles on the clock. Should be surprised really. Problem that officially I’m only allowed to drive this in Latvia for up to 3 months. Not sure what I’m meant to do then but it looks like I’ll have to return to the UK to sell it. Chance to see everyone again.   Well I think that’s enough for today. Look forward to reading your comments.

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13 Responses to First Impressions

  1. Sue Charlton says:

    So lovely to read your blog. Sounds like everything is progressing well, but how hard must it be. Great to know you are in Inta’s safe hands! Xxxxx


  2. Sue Charlton says:

    Surely you don’t have to take another driving test? Is it just the car which isn’t legal?


  3. Lee an says:

    Found this on

    Driving licences and vehicles
    You can use your UK driving licence in Latvia. Upon it’s expiry you will be required to change it to a Latvian driving licence.

    You can use your right-hand drive car if you are only visiting Latvia. If you plan to reside in Latvia you will need to register your car and re-arrange it for left-hand driving. You will be given 6 months from the date of registration for this.

    Please see the website of the Latvian Road Traffic Safety Directorate for more details and any additional information about driving in Latvia.

    Don’t know if it would be worth it price wise but may worth considering to make it saleable if you just don’t want it any more.

    Sounds like you’re having fun! X


  4. Uncle Bob says:

    Hey there Andy Pandy! You and Inta having fun I see? 😉 xxx


  5. Ella says:

    Randomly found your blog. It is very interesting to see your perspective on Latvia. I am a Latvian myself and am in the reverse situation – I live in UK for 4 years now. I have faced several conundrums so far and it is very interesting to notice the cultural differences. In my opinion, British people are more materialistic – a lot of emphasis is put on the person’s status and the things they own. Latvians are more worried about the existential things and are much closer to nature (at least that’s my personal perspective). British are much more open in communication – starting a random chat with a stranger is normal in UK, whereas in Latvia people are mostly very cautious and talking to strangers is considered weird and mostly uncomfortable for most people. Fortunately this tendency is not so noticeable among young people nowadays. Anyhow, I hope you will enjoy your time in Latvia 🙂


  6. Daniella says:


    Stumbled across your blog on Facebook, my sister shared it on her wall and I found it very interesting. Just like Ella I moved to England about 10 years ago, and although I am proud of my Latvian roots I love England and often call myself “English wannabe” 😉 I miss weekends in Latvia, I find that in England entertainment is largely limited to pubs, bars and restaurants, where is in Latvia, we would pack our bags and rent a guest house by a lake or go to visit someone’s summer house. In winters we would attend theatres, operas, exhibitions etc which I find are a lot more affordable in Riga than in any city in the UK. However, there are lots of things I don’t miss at all; I am glad I don’t have to deal with permanently angry people at all times, you will learn to spot those a mile away – they are the ones with permanent frown lines, rolling eyes and it seems as though they are convinced that everyone owes them for something lol; rip off taxi drivers – who will attempt to take you for an unwanted tour just to charge you more and of course graffiti on pretty much every wall… But, despite some of the things I mentioned above, all my British friends love it there and they always want to go back for more. We are going again in July to visit my friends and relatives, and of course to attend Positivus (if you are a music lover, you will love it!) So I really hope you will enjoy living there as much as we enjoy visiting, as there are some truly fantastic places to see and some wonderful things to learn about the culture, nation and of course our oddities and weird traditions 😉


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