Alisa Yastremskaya, author, editor and active traveler, has seen the world, has lived in Hong Kong and Vladivostok, and is now residing somewhere between Riga and Moscow. We have learned from Alice about her favorite Baltic places, restaurants and reasons to love Riga.
Alisa, tell us a bit about yourself and your adventures, please
I am the editor and author of the Kontent Box project, ans I am giving a hand to small businesses when it comes to creating content in social networks. This is a project for companies who want their customers to understand what they are doing. That’s when I come handy, producing ideas on how to present and promote product and entertain subscribers.
I was born in Riga, and at the age of 24, I left for Vladivostok. Later I lived in Hong Kong, traveled across Asia,having particularly vivid impressions of Japan and Vietnam. But my most favorite journey was along Kamchatka as everything is truly amazing there: the weather, nature, volcanoes. It felt like another planet! Among European cities, I love the cosmopolitan city of London the most.
Of all the cities where you’ve been, which reminds you of Riga the most?
That’s a pretty difficult question. When I get to a new place, I often have flashbacks: London’s Canary Warf district has the vibe of the Hong Kong station Admiralty, a random shop in a park in New York may remind of some hidden Tbilisi’s nook… Sometimes streets in other cities remind me of Riga, but it’s hard to name them at once.
What do you love in Riga?
The atmosphere of the city and people. That’s probably because I have many friends, acquaintances, and family here. The locals have some special charm, they might seem reserved, but get very emotional once they make friends with you. Oh, and they are really beautiful in their own way, which is another nice distinctive feature.
I love trying new things, but in Riga I have a variety of beloved cozy places. I love our “Riga” cinema (now – Splendid Palace) with its festivals, films and events. Cultural life in our country may not be as diverse as in London, but you can always find something curious, it just might take some time to make a research and find them.
I love Latvian designers as well as their vision and style. I get inspired when I visit local creative markets and neighborhoods. Among my favorites I can mention Berga Bazaars, Spikeri, Kalnciema Tirgus. What’s always cool there is a mix of food and stuff: you will find accessories in one stall and local delicacies in another.
Food here is indeed delicious. Only after several years of travelling, I have realized how good our products are: fruits, vegetables, berries, pastries, cottage cheese and many others!
What restaurants and cuisine do you like?
I am not a restaurant person, I prefer something more casual to places with white cloths and strict waiters. I love La kanna for Sunday brunches, it’s nice to meet friends here; Mākonis is great in terms of unusual cocktails; Fazenda makes me feels like home and features a lovely interior. Wine Studio is always in my heart for its vibe and all memories related to it. So many things have happened there with me! It’s nice that through all of these years they have kept the same high level of quality.
From local food, I especially love pastry. I adore typical local Sklandrausis, although I used to get confused by grated carrots in a basket of bread dough. My tastes have changed a lot after Hong Kong. Now I love simple Latvian food. For me, there is nothing better than a “Farmer’s Breakfast” when you mix potatoes with eggs in a pan and make a fresh salad of tomatoes and cucumbers with Latvian sour cream.
And what sights would you recommend to visit?
I’d recommend to see the sea from different angles. Liepaja, Ventspils, Kolka, Pavilosta – everywhere the sea has its own character. On Pavilosta, it is something special for me… perhaps I like those places as Zemfira, my number one musician, shot one of her videos there.
In Riga, I love to look at the city from above, for example, from the Academy of Sciences and Peter’s Tower. It’s nice to enjoy a boat ride along the local channels. It might seem basic, but for me it’s romantic, especially if you take a cup of cocoa along and get there on a sunny or, on the contrary, foggy day and feel like a tourist in your hometown.
Besides the capital, I like being in Sigulda and Cēsis, but everyone knows about them, that’s why all of Riga residents get them overcrowded on autumn weekends. Ungarmuiža is very beautiful with its park, gazebo and a small house. It was interesting to visit the Valmiermuiža beer factory with a guided tour and tasting sessions,
Among museums, I love the Paula Stradins Museum of the History of Medicine. I can not explain why, but whenever I go there, I can hang on all day. Pretty few of my friends actually like it. Expositions about the plague, an old dentist’s chair, all sorts of frightening things are an entertainment for a special taste, but they fascinate me. Who knows, maybe I was a doctor in my past life.