Friday, 28 June 2013

Visual recap: Riga, Saint Petersburg, and points in between

So, as promised, a whole slew of photos summarizing our recent goings on abroad. Happy weekend everyone!


After having explored Estonia we continued to Latvia, the Baltic coast, and Saint Petersburg, where, amongst other things, we overdosed on architecture, from medieval to art nouveau to distinctive Russian orthodox...

Ratslaukums, Riga

Church of the Spilled Blood, Saint Petersburg

Doma laukums, Riga

Riga's Freedom Monument
Peter and Paul Fortress, Saint Petersburg

Art nouveau Riga

Art nouveau Riga
We hiked and climbed...

Sigulda, Latvia reach spectacular views.

Turaida Castle and Gauja river valley

We caught glimpses of the region's communist past in it's monuments...

Monument to the Revolution, Riga

Lenin Monument, Saint Petersburg

Helsinki Station, Saint Petersburg

....and of it's abiding and deep religiosity too.

Trinity Cathedral, Saint Petersburg
Church of the Spilled Blood, interior

St. Isaac's Cathedral, Saint Petersburg

We dined on local specialities, from farmers markets selling the freshest, simplest products...

Central market, Riga hedonistic temples of culinary decadence...

Yeleseevskiy Gastronom, Saint Petersburg

...and had more than one such riverside picnic:

Champagne, caviar, blinis, strawberries and chocolate

We overdosed on art of all kinds...

Krimulda, Latvia

The Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Etelaesplanadi, Helsinki

...and saw some weird shit too.

A popular treat for the kids in Saint Petersburg, it seems

Why is this baby so angry? I can't read cyrillic script, so we'll never know

Because what's more fun than old ladies on dirt bikes?

We gawped at the bling of the Romanov royals...

The Hermitage, Saint Petersburg
...and visited the palace where Ra-Ra-Rasputin, Russia's greatest love machine met his grisly end.

Yusapov Palace, Saint Petersburg

 We strolled the canals of Saint Petersburg, which earns its title as the Venice of the North...

Nab Reki Fontanki, Nevsky Prospekt

Nab Kanala Griboyedova

We breathed the clean, salty air of the sea...

Helsinki harbour

...bathed in the heat of the sun...

Parnu, Estonia

...and then watched it set over the beautiful Baltic coast.

Parnu, Estonia

The weather was almost unendingly beautiful, but one day a flash thunder storm hit, and when it was gone, this is what it left...

Monday, 24 June 2013

What not to do while trying to conceive, and doing it in glorious style

Yep, we're back from what has already been dubbed The Glorious Holiday in these parts. Although a mere perusal of my blogger reading list indicates that I have a lot of catching up to do where my bloggy friends are concerned, (bear with me, I'll stop by soon!) I don't have much in the way of updates in Invincible Spring Land.

The uterus? Still very much unoccupied. (Did we expect anything different, really?) We have an appointment with the clinic on Thursday, and along we teeter... Honestly, none of it - the screaming scarlet that made its appearance a tantilizing two days late, or our perpetually childless status, the waits and the run-arounds at our clinic - seemed too bad in the context of recent weeks.

The holiday? Just...glorious. We hiked and strolled and explored and swam and ate and drank and laughed more than we have in a long while. It was a tonic for our marriage, and for my outlook on life generally.

And did we stick to the promise that we made before our departure? Not entirely, but that was ok too. Travel for me has always been about engaging with as much looking at new surroundings. A big part of that, I guess, is about allowing yourself to think about your own life and place in the vastness of things, as you encounter diversity and newness and difference. Because I'm a narcissistic emo type I tend to reflect on what I'd like to bring back with me from each encounter; not just the little stuff like a piece of local art of a tasty new way of preparing fish or doing my hair. The bigger stuff too: different priorities, ways of expressing ourselves, worldviews. (I think maybe these weeks away clarified some things for H and I, though how we act on that remains to be seen.)

So yeah, there was some of that too, fuelled by drinking in too much art, epic history and local socio-cultural quirks (birch bark sauna slapping, anyone?!) oh ok, and vodka. Like I said, glorious.

I'm sure I'll be back to bore you with photographic evidence in the coming days, but for now, I'm equal parts busy with all the back-to-reality stuff one inevitably faces, and stuck in a post-holiday-funk-apathy.

OMGseriously you guys! We went from these vast, ethereal, bright blue skies which become alight with orange and pink swirls around midnight, but never truly darken... 

Midnight sun marvel: 2AM the grey, featureless, claustrophobic lid that is the sky over England at any given time. We traded sunshine and shirtsleeves for rain and woollen jumpers again. Sigh.

In sum though, (once my period had finally arrived), I can say that my behaviour on these weeks away was a veritable compendium of What Not To Do When You're Trying to Conceive:

  • Forget your embargo on caffeine completely, and partake of daily doses of rich, dark, aromatic coffee (the likes of which is never to be found here in England), served in elegant cafes on cobbled squares while watching the world go by. Usually twice daily.
  • Go local and eat raw fish, prepared ninety seven ways, of which there never seems to be a shortage. And caviar. So much caviar.
  • Develop a heretofore unthinkable taste for vodka, which becomes irresistible in this land of expert vodka drinking and making (they treat it like fine wine). Sample the amazing, locally distilled varieties infused with incredible things like rhubarb, lingonberry, and sea buckthorn (my new favourite fruit!
  • Smoke (gasp!) a leisurely cigarillo while seated in aforementioned cafe
  • Throw your acupuncturist-recommended, doctor-backed gluten free diet (and with it your caution) to the wind, and partake of an obscene amount of pastries! cakes! breads! and beers in virtually every microbrewery pub you find along the way (they take their beers seriously too, these people)
  • Saunas! Hot springs!
  • Have sex with your husband for the sake of sex alone. Frivolous, exciting, standing-up, bathroom-in-a-moving-conveyance sex, as though you're a pair of horny teenagers with not a care for his sperm reaching your cervix on what might very well be fertile days (I know! Rebels!)

So yeah, I guess you could say we had an awesome time.

Suck on that, happiness-sanctioning, spontaneity-stealing infertility!

Friday, 7 June 2013

The week in pictures: Tallinn

Today, my darling, hardworking husband is off presenting papers and talking shop. And while I, lady of leisure that I currently am, sit poolside - amazing weather, unlike anything we ever get in England! - I thought I'd stop in and share a few random images from our first week: cozy cafes, fanciful architecture, street art, grand town squares. We're soaking it all in, at a very relaxed pace.

Yes, this is just what the doctor ordered.

Helsinki receding from the ferry deck

Some of the residential architecture reminded me of a more colorful Cape Cod style

This funky yet traditional cafe turned into one of our favorite coffee breaks

We bought a beautiful vase in this studio, where you could observe the artist at work

Hello Kitty and a gas mask?