My Family History Tour of Latvia, 2012

Posted on 4th March 2014 in adventure, architecture, explored, photojournalism

Latvia is a very special place in my heart, for many reasons.

One of those reasons is that my family has a very long history there. If you’re not familiar with Riga, I’ve made two posts on the architecture there (Part I & Part II). Riga is a very beautiful old city in an old country, with a lot of amazing history over the centuries, and a lot of very sad history too.

My family had estates scattered around Latvia that were lost sometime around the Russian Revolution(s) ~1917. For so long Latvia was behind the Russian Iron Curtain, but within the last 10-20 years everything has changed making it accessible to us foreigners. While I was there I rented a car and tried to visit as many of the old family estates as I possibly could.

I received such beautiful hospitality when I was there in 2012 from a few people who made my family history tour possible: Gerda Berzina, Imants Lancmanis, & Ojars Sparitis, who all went out of their way to extend their services to me. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities they presented to me, and in fact I’m a little ashamed it took me so long to write this post as a token of my gratitude.

If you’re interested in seeing a map with pins (markers) where I visited, head to my family genealogy site, tobyns.com,where I’ve made an interactive map.

My trip went from Riga -> Schleck -> Edwalen -> Pope -> Ugale -> Riga on day 1. On day 2 I went to Mežotne -> Rundāle -> Elley -> Vilce -> Jelgeva -> Riga.

This is what I saw.

Schleck Church (lv. Zlekas)

Schleck Church (lv. Zlekas)

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Acropolis of Athens, Greece

Posted on 29th December 2013 in adventure, architecture, explored

Taking myself back to last year to the land of sun, where I was sweeping through the streets of Athens, Greece admiring all the graffiti. It completely blew me away the amount of graffiti there, and it was hard to not get overwhelmed with so much. It can get very distracting just hunting for great works. I’ve done a few posts already on the graffiti I found (part 1, part 2).

However, I did a mythological tour too. I can’t imagine going to Athens and not… I found the hottest day possible to do my journey through Acropolis (ok, all the days were hot in Athens). It was much to my surprise to find out that unfortunately once I got within the gates of Acropolis, I wasn’t allowed to take my shirt off! I can still feel the exhaustion.

This is what I found.

Side of Aglaureion | Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Side of Aglaureion | Acropolis, Athens, Greece

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Architecture of Bucharest, Romania

Posted on 7th August 2013 in architecture

In the late summer of 2012 I traveled to Bucharest, Romania to experience Eastern European culture at its finest. I learned many things about the culture while there. One part of the culture I was very interested in and to learn about was the Gypsys. I spent some time wandering through Gypsy prominent area, which happened to be right next to where I was staying. I learned that Gypsys didn’t come from Romania, they came from India. But, in the nature of a Gypsy, they don’t really have a home land, they are rather nomadic people.

The place I was staying in was the only room in a artist collective, where about 4 artists shared the spot. The apartment was located very close to a very big Gypsy market, where I got my produce that I survived on. It was a very interesting part of town I was in, for I was able to walk to the Old Town very quickly. Old Town is famous for it’s Parisian culture, and is so named Little Paris. Apparently when Bucharest was thriving – I suspect in the late 19th century – architects went to learn their skills in Paris, after which they returned home to build.

What I found most notable about the whole journey was the contrasting states of decay everywhere. One building would be a fancy embassy with a well kept garden, and the building beside it would be completely decayed and abandoned. I always suspect long forgotten Counts or Barons to have been the previous owners of the buildings… I wonder how many times I’m right?

This is what I saw when wandering.

Bucharest - 29082012 (237 of 361) Click here to read more.. »

Architecture of San Francisco, California

Posted on 24th July 2013 in architecture

It was over a year ago now that I made my trip down to San Francisco. I took the most western route possible the whole way down, stopping at every spot I could along the coast. I have also already shown the images of the people, the street photography I did while down there (part 1, part 2). Now, I want to show you the architecture I photographed down there.

I was staying in Lower Knob Hill, and spent a lot of time around that area, wandering to the business district, china town, all along the piers, Market, Little Saigon, and Fillmore district. I walked a lot, and took a lot of photos! Met some very cool people too, as usual.

San Francisco - 201202 (136 of 809) Click here to read more.. »

Architecture of Istanbul, Turkey | Part II

Posted on 25th June 2013 in architecture

If you missed it, my first series of images from Istanbul can be found in Part I. After my first day in Istanbul, I mostly wandered around Taksim, up and down the streets, side streets and around again. However, I did head over Galata Kpr. into the Grand Bazaar and around the Blue and Red Mosques: Hagia Sophia, and Sultan Ahmet. This area I guess could be called the old city, for it’s where the fortress once was in times of old.

It is quite remarkable for me to think that today, one year later, these streets are where the protests that are making news across the world are happening.

Architecture of Istanbul, Turkey Click here to read more.. »