Aim low. Do not expect to catch shark, think small, enjoy the process, and you may be the lucky one. You may cath some smaller fish first, and then that fish may become bite for the shark of your life. You never know. I know that once I really went with objective to catch shark, we did not catch anything.
Go fishing. Prefferably into the ocean, which kind of really increases your chances to catch shark.If it is your first time - chances go up even more. "Beginners luck" is kind of big help when you are into sharks. Florida, around the road to Key West Point is a good place to start your journey of shark-hunting. At least we were lucky there to get the lifetime opportunity.
Have a great team. Even if you will not catch the shark, you will have time of your life. Needless to say that team work is important in the process. As getting the shark (500 pound one) out of the water will take around 1,5 hours, you better have team that is ready to help out, stand by, take over, support etc... In our case, there was a moment of "sacrificing" Riga Black Balsam to fishing Oracle. It worked. Again, each member of team brings something unique to the table.
Just 400km from Riga, in Lithuania, Druskininkai, you find yourself in the time zone that is difficult to define. My friend Paulius was showing and proudly telling about achievements of that small town in the South of Lithuania. Snow arena under the roof (that also carries largest "Like" symbol in Lithuania) with ambition of future, fontain that sings and dances the song you like, 1500 massage experts and SPA treatments, monuments of ex-Soviet era (trip to history), great restaurants and many other reasons to visit this place with "mojo". Thank you Paulius!
"When God was dividing land, Georgians came late, and were told that there is not land left. All divided. Georgians said that they were late because they were stopping at each opportunity to pray to God, thus they were late. God liked explanation and sliced a bit of Heaven for Georgians."
First impression. Georgians are proud. They love their nature, they love their wine making tradidions and wine itself, they like history (good or bad), respect their ex-rulers (David the builder, Tamara and others) and saints (dragon killer St. Georgy the most important of course), they love all their heritage. Georgia is churches, history, people, food&wine and nature.
Georgians are good at laughing at themselves. Tbilissi has few new buildings in the center of Tbilissi. Locals do not really like them, as they do not fit the historical and cultural heritage. That is why they make new "names" for those buildings. "Always Ultra", "Canalization pipes" and "mushrooms" are widely used descriptors for those buildings.
History. Apart from having fun of themselves, Georgians are extremely proud about their history, culture and nation. They do not see things only black&white. Stalin has his share of love, adoring and hatered in equal parts. Wars with Iranians, arabs, Turks, Russians all make history, all have contributed to uniqueness of Georgia. Georgians undertand it and respect their history. They have 6000+ registered churches, while total number is around 20+ thousand as they estimate. We visited one small willage of 15 registered and 45 non-accounted churches, so numbers above could square... Big number of churches date back to 4th-8th centuries. It was funny to hear our guide reffering to churches from Middle ages as brand new ones... Stories of each one of the churches or monasteries are breath taking.
People. Big, warm heart, love for good food and celebrating life in general. With many bloody wars in their past Georgians have learned to cherish life. They have been peasants and warriors for many centuries. It seemed indeed that most of them indeed live the day as it could be the last one. They cherish their friends, they drink wine and enjoy being together with their friends. With every round of wine small table speach (tost) to praise guests, friends, love, peace, elders etc is made. They celebrate life and friends are enormous part of their lives.
Food. Khinkali, kebabs, chakapuli, hachapuri, churchella etc. Best from asian, arab and meditteranian cousines. During one week of our our trip 4 adults from Latvia gained on average 4kg of weight, as we just could not resist the temptation of tasting it all..
Nature. Mountains and valleys, springs and rivers, sun and wind, juicy fruits, hundreds of grape types.. You just have to experience it yourselve.
Best guide. We were blessed to be hosted in Georgia by probably the best guide in Georgia - Gia Lapauri (he is on one of pictures below). Without him, we would not learn so much about Georgia as we did. Gia's knowledge of history is phenonemal. His pride of his country is unlimited. His heart is big. If you really want to explore Georgia to it's max, get in touch with Gia (Tel. +995593343023. e-mail email@example.com). More about Georgia and Gia you can find on www.kvoseliai.lt
Madloba (Thank You) Gia, Georgia and Nahvandis (See you soon!).
I was fortunate to spend almost a week in Iceland playing bridge. This is what I found in this country of 300 thousand inhabitants living on remnants of long time ago erupted (yet somewhat active) vulcanos. In the country that voted to not bail-out, but to keep their banks pay-for mistakes made during the bubble... Country that is considered biggest exporter of fish in EU and where equality of male and female is ranked the highest in EU...
Country that is 2nd biggest exporter of bananas in EU (utilizing their geothermal heat for greenhouses..). Country of landscapes that you see in Hollywood movies..
"Man is maid of Earth's soil and God's spirit. "Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being." (Gen. 2.7) Man lives and dies as any other growth of the earth.Because of God's spirit, man obtains fellowship with God and even a promise of an eternal life. Then the magnificent battle starts, where he seeks his aims and purpose. To cultivate the the earth and all that exists around him is his major objective. The one who cultivates his/her land, will be sated with bread, the one who strives for vanity, will be satiated by poverty. Man must live with his environment, understand his fellowship with neighbour and his land. He does not live alone, he lives in a community with others and his challenge is to enrich and improve life. Man has the assignment to coordinate what is his relity in nature and his society of mankind. In that understanding he seeks to make nature and society mutually beneficial but not damaging. With his intelligence, creativity and executive power he benefits from the growth of earth and the wealth of nature, but led by greed and vanity he is bound to be defeated by himself, he loses the relationship with God, loses his origin, alienates himself from his surroundings and from other people."
Text comes from exhibition in their biggest (the only?) cathedral, where the hall of the cathedral was full of green, basically working as greenhouse, as this is what artists believed - church is a greenhouse, growing what is best in people...Enriching human life with care, consideration and love.
And yes, for us Latvians, heroes of consolidation... Economy of Iceland is doing extremely well, despite the fact they decided to go bancrupt, thus not returning some international loans (and not taking new loans from IMF or EU)...
Something different today. Pictures made by my daughter (16), capturing nice landscapes of Latvia (+ few from almost as beautiful Malta, see if, you can figure out, which ones ...). As in translation of one nice Latvian (by U.Stabulnieks) song: "Comes autumn to paint our Latvia, but do not even try... For us, she is, most beautiful, regardless..." Few landscapes do not belong to Latvia, but only makes mix more colorful... Feel free to use pictures telling stories about Latvia. All credits to Sintija.
A fisherman returned to shore with a giant marlin that was bigger and heavier
than he. On the way to the cleaning shed, he ran into a second fisherman who had a stringer with a dozen baby minnows. The second fisherman looked at the marlin, turned to the first fisherman and said, " Only caught one, eh?"
Well, I was told that we have a chance to catch blue marlin and all the fishes with names from the title... I did not catch them... Not even a single one like in a joke. I tried, and it felt that it was close, but no, I did not even see them... Deep water fishing on the last day of our trip to one of the Caribbean jewels - Curacao, was still the jewel on the crown. Probably it was the effect of fishing deep for a first time, but it was great, almost matching the feeling on top of dune in Namibian desert (and that is hell of a feeling :)).
Sea was refreshing us with occasional splash of waves amidst 35 degrees (Celsius) delivered by always welcoming Caribbean sun. Our fisherman team was excellent, bites were great, just that fish did not co-operate. They said they catch something in 80% of the trips, so we were the minority :) Still, fishing was the highlight of the trip as this was so much Carribean to me. We met there Carlos - mexican, who was studying in USA, before he came to Curacao 16 years ago.. And once he came to Curacao, he never left, as he saw here the perfect place to realize his dream - be a fisherman. He said he is in the sea for 300 days a year, all for fishing trip, while fish itself is not the main objective, but the process is (and of course tips are welcome..).
"Place to live your dream", that could be the slogan of Curacao, really small country in Caribean sea, just 150 km away from Venezuela coast and only 150 thousand locals living there. Netherlands Antilles were dissolved into small "countries" only in 2010, so presence of Dutch is overhelming, starting from beer choice in bars to language spoken... Local people here have come here to realize their smallest or grandest dreams and to live their lives in peace and harmony... The climate, proximity to equator, water that does not bite you with cold teeth once you get in, cheep rum, salaries that are somewhat above Latvian average, no heating bills (but bills for AC are considerable), beautiful people (no worries, Latvian ladies still are still above the crowd :)) - all makes life here a matter of living, not surviving. Again, as Latvian, I might be worn out at some point of time from the heat (where 35 degrees is not close to the top..), but overall, place was just screaming: "Relax, take it easy, take your time!". Well, I am overstating a bit, but Curacao had that "manjana" (tomorrow) attitude even more than Spanish folks have. People always smiling and being happy. They say that index of happiness is highest in Bhutan, but probably only because they do not measure it in Curacao... I envy americans a bit, as they are only 3 hours flight away from small piece of Carribean paradise. I am hoping to come back to Carribean one day, they say Aruba is marvellous too.
It was this feeling from the first glance. It will be an affair. Love affair... It was clear from the start, that this beauty is not made for deep and long relationship, as this babe was too focused on her looks and glamour vs spiritual life, but she clearly had a style. Affair status was OK with me, as my long term love mates are 2 black ladies (Namibia and Botswana, http://libau.weebly.com/1/post/2013/05/wed-1-may-2013.html#/) and of course, love of my life - the homeland Latvia...
Miami seduced me with great looks, smell of the ocean, mix of different cultures (mostly latinos, but then, in the service sector, all Eastern Europe is represented), taste of vibrant night life, always friendly cops, smiles, sporty people. All was great, and only one thing annoyed me - it felt Miami does it all just for money... And every 10th person in Miami was wearing T-shirt "I am in Miami bitch", so there must be something...
Miami International airport is 2nd biggest airport in USA after JFK, so, it was not big surprise that we had to wait 1 hour for border control, while there were 60 desks open! Lines were impressive. But getting through the control was really easy, with only few questions asked, and one question I liked the most: "if I would be in Latvia, what sort of beer I should be choosing? " He was happy with the answer that there are lot of local breweries and all make better beer than Miller..."
Via http://www.booking.com/ we ended up choosing nice hotel on Ocean Drive, which was 100 meters from the beach front, so the first impression was great. As we learned afterwards, Ocean Drive is the main road to show off, so in the evenings, a lot of Ferrari, Pontiac, Limos appear on the streets cruising slowly but loudly... As we learned, more than half of them are rented for 1 day, just to show off... There were indeed a lot of car rentals focusing on exclusive and exotic cars rent... Life for rent...
Next thing we realized that Miami is by far not real America... You see healthy people (lot of runners, nobody is smoking, only few enjoy Cuban cigars), well trained bodies (there are open air fitness equipment on the beach), lot of tourists and atmosphere resembles party, not hard work, that americans are famous for. And the biggest fiesta and party was taking place on Spanish Road, tribute to the dominance of Spanish influence here.
"Everglades" park was most marketed object of nature there (others were only some Jungle, Monkey parks), so we went there. It was impressive, though, 4 hours trip that is organized is hardly enough to experience Everglades. It is huge safari park with great variety of animals and fish (I remember that there are 89 sorts of fish ad 28 sorts of snakes in Everglades, on top of famous American alligator coexisting with other crocodiles). So few days browsing is recommended, if you are really loving the wild life and want to go photo-hunting.
Nightlife is indeed very intense there, and parties go on through all the week, with finish for more enduring ones at 4am or so. And at your forties, you will by far not be the oldest, in fact, just an averAGE person on the party... At least I understood why people are trying to stay fit here, as otherwise you can not endure...
And here is the sound that I associate with Miami, as it was on T-shirts and in many bars or passing by cabrios..
I have had the privelege to experience all regions of Latvia. One grandparents from Latgale, others from Vidzeme, parents living in Kurzeme, and finally, myself ending up studying and living in Riga region.
Having spent many summers in Latgale, there is always a nostalgic place in my mind with collection of great adventures of past. This year I had a pleasure to once again see the corner of Latgale. This time Aglona (bread museum, church), Dagda, Preili (dolls museum), Razna... Well representing Latgale - land of blue lakes. It seemed to me great place for political summits, as it radiates piece, harmony and down-to-earth humanity. At least, when I shall become president of Latvia, I plan to invite Lithuanian president to visit Latgale first, where we will do business in "black sauna", while sipping local smakovka..
Pay from 20 EUR to get ticket from Kaunas to Malta with Ryanair, or Airbaltic (lucky can get 80 eur ticket, but seating is reserved :)), and you are landing in the beautiful island of Malta. Googling in the "top 10 things to see in Malta" you are getting clear picture of what needs to be seen: Comino island, Blue Azur on Gozo island, Valletta old town, Marsalox fish market, night life of St.Julians bay, so this became a plan for our family..
And we were not dissappointed in any single step of our trip...
To see. As above, those are really all the must see places. Comino island visit can be combined with visit to Gozo island, while Valletta and Mdina are 2 towns to dedicate 1 day each... Fish market works only Sundays, so you need to plan your trip accordingly.
To Stay. Higly recommend to find some small house to rent near the see. We rented a family house in Marsascala (we were 11 souls). Service is excellent, and views from the terrace unforgetable.
To eat. Any of family run restaurant is excellent place to get fresh sea food and home wine.. (Chardonay and Merlot are indeed best choises from local wines)... For 12-15 eur per person one may get really excellent cusine. Local rabbit is must try!
To know. You do not really need to rent a car. Island is small, and bus system is well developed. Car will only add stress to navigate through the net of one way streets... And for gamblers, rules in local casions are tough to win... 3 card poker seemed best value for money :)
Christians - beware, this Israel (Jerusalem) is not the place you will get the thrill and excitement from seeing places where Jesus lived through most important moments of his life.. In fact, I was disappointed by the fact that trade in all 4 districts (armenian, arab, jewish and christian) of Jerusalem prevails the soul searching and experiencing of history.. In fact, after we saw Jerusalem, our guide offered us to see the restaurant "Elvis Presley", as, in his words, that would make trip to jerusalem much more memorable.. (be the was Elvis has never been in Israel :))
Otherwise experiencing Israel was great. Safe (CNN really overdo it in terms of scaring people), with feeling of some cultural and historical barriers between jews and arabs, but overall - great..
Must taste local sea food (try some menu buffet restaurant, price of 14-20 eur per person), and local vines are great too (my favourite was Syrah, as it comes really mature, with sweet tones..).
Walk in Jerusalem (well, you can not miss it, if you are in Israel), by the sea, and in the small streets of Tel-aviv, will make your trip memorable, while with small bitter aftertaste, if you happen to be Christian..