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Up in the Baltic region, on the banks of the Daugava River, lies one the greatest architectural treasures in Europe – Riga, Latvia’s long-enduring capital. Over its tumultuous existence Riga knew many times of glory and prosperity. But, as it happened in many other European cities, the destruction of the Second World War followed by the Soviet occupation left the city in a dismal state.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union when Latvia regained its independence, Riga went through an extensive transformation. Its historic buildings and monuments have been rebuilt and the beautiful Old Town Riga was brought back to its initial splendor, becoming an UNESCO Heritage Site.

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The Statue of Roland in Town Hall Square

The Old Town Riga is made of a series of open squares linked by charming cobbled streets.One of the most beautiful ones is the Town Hall Square, home to the Town Hall building on the north side and the dramatic façade of the House of the Blackheads on the opposite side. In the center of the square is the statue of Roland, a Frankish military leader who became the a symbol of justice and freedom in many European countries. The sandstone statue in the square is a copy of the original that was removed by the Soviets in 1945. Read More

Solvang simply stole my heart with its European-style windmills, flower-lined streets and Danish architecture. The first time I visited the village I remember feeling like I was walking in one of Hans Christian Andersen’s stories. Half timbered buildings, horse-drawn wagons, storks on the rooftops, clogs and Danish bonnets in the windows, everything was reminiscent of the old Danish countryside.

 

The Birth of a Danish Town

Just a short 40-minute drive from Santa Barbara, the little town of Solvang was the dream of three Danish immigrants: Reverend Benedict Nordentoft, Reverend J. M. Gregersen, and Professor P. P. Hornsyld, who planned to established here a Danish community. In 1911 they bought 10,000 acres of land next to the beautiful Santa Inés Mission in Santa Barbara County, California. They named the new settlement ‘Solvang,’ which in Danish means sunny field. The first settlers were almost all Danish farmers from California, the Midwest and Denmark. The community began growing very fast. Read More

I love going to Europe, or Hawaii, or South America, but when I think of facing 10-12 hours of red-eye agony, I feel like giving up. My greatest problem when I fly is that I can’t sleep on the plane. Let’s face it, not many of us actually can. How would you doze off in a hard, narrow seat with the armrests digging into your hips, your head banging against the window and your legs going numb as you try to find a more comfortable position? Over the years I’ve tried it seems like every pillow on the market, from inflatable to micro-bead cushions and travel pillows for back pain, but none really worked. Does anyone know exactly how many travel pillows have been invented so far? Not a single year goes by without you hearing that finally, the ideal travel pillow has been created. “Best travel pillow ever! Designed and created by an airline pilot…” Oh, maybe this one will work. “New travel pillow wins British Invention of the Year…”  Ah, this must be the one!  But it’s not. So just when I gave up all hope of getting any sleep on the plane, here comes JetComfy, a bizarre travel pillow on a pole. Will this one end my travel pillow challenge? JetComfy036-Edit In the beginning I was reluctant to even give it a try. Another travel pillow? But still, there was something about this one that none of the others seemed to have. Unlike most travel pillows that wrap around your neck forcing your head to lean forward, or sideways, the ingenious JetComfy pillow actually deals with the old dilemma of where to place your head while trying to sleep on a plane. JetComfy pillow stands by itself on an extendable pole that supports the weight of your head. The height of the pole is Read More