Manchester - Latvia - Manchester 28.08 - 08.09. 2021

Surreal! The only word that came to my mind when I took that plane home. Last flight before this was 04.09.2019!!!! It was soooo good to finally leave "the box" our family had been living in for the past two years. Well, I guess it is fair to say, the whole world was "in the box". It is like time stopped, but it did not.

So - GOING HOME! Anxious, cautious, but very excited. Like all, we followed all the requirements and procedures. To be honest, I was expecting it to be more complicated - tests, isolation, location forms here and there (pile of paperwork, when before it was just suitcase and passport) - but it was still relatively smooth and civilized. So on arrival, we had to spend 10 days in self isolation. Challenging, to say the least! Day 1-5: fun - movies, great food and since it was self isolation, not quarantine, we were allowed to walk around not crowded places, which meant we were visiting parks and forests. So far, so good:) day 6-8, it starts to change slightly, emotions are starting to creep out - somebody wants to sit in coffee shop, somebody wants to go to the Zoo and somebody just wants peace and quiet. Day 8-10, that is it!!! None of us could take it any longer, it felt like we were prisoners in our own home. That little trip to clothing store or 30 min in coffee shop, really does matter. Finally, it was all over. We were free again:) Which means, obviously I had to treat the kids first and make up for everything that they missed out on. 

First trip - Dinosaur Park or ABpark, around 70 km from Riga. Amazing place, especially for children. 20 euros entry fee and you can spend the whole day, all attractions included in the price - slides, carousels, catamaran ride, dino track, exhibitions and lots, lots more. They also have some cafes on the site, so nobody will be bored or starved.

Then we decided to get some adrenaline rush and picked a great place - Net Park in Ligatne - again around 50 km form Riga. It is basically nets 8m up in the trees where kids (and also grown ups) can have great fun. It is relatively cheap, I think it was 8 euros for my 9 year old and 5 for my 5 year old, grown up pays slightly more, but if you only want your kids to have a great day out, you can always stay on the ground and just check on them from there, making sure they are safe and having fun.

If ever in Latvia, visit Aluksne (well visit all of this beautiful country!!!). That place has lots to offer - sightseeing tower (37.8 m height, little scary and shaky on top, but the view is magnificent), the lake, bike riding, zip line across the lake, but the best part of the whole town is cafe  "Pajumte". This was only my second time to taste food that good in my life - the first was in Kuldiga some years ago - this place had it all, the food, the flavours, the staff, the service, presentation, location -all. Order white chocolate cheesecake and I promise there will be no regrets!!!! @kafepajumte  - YOU ARE THE BEST. 

Next, to slow down on all these power places, I decided to take my girls to horse riding. There is an amazing place "Purenes" in Gulbene District. Their horses are so sweet and calm, they love kids and kids love them. My 5 year old had never been up close to the horse, so I thought she would be little scared, but OHHH Boy I could have not been more wrong. She was first to run to them, to feed them and of course ride them. It is a wonderful place for calm and mental wellbeing!

So what is the conclusion of pandemic trip? It was not as bad as I expected. Yes, there were some places we could not go, yes we had to wear masks most of the time, yes we did clean our hands like mad and gel was and still is our best friend, but it was all worth it. The walls of that box had to be broken and I never want them to be built up again. Period!