Meet a Member: Ilga Biskaps

  1. Name: Ilga Biskaps
  2. Nationality / Nationalities:  Australian Latvian. My parents fled Latvia in 1944, and arrived in Australia in 1949. I was born in Australia.
  3. What country did you move to Latvia from? Sydney, Australia
  4. Why did you move to Latvia? To experience my parents’ homeland for longer than 3 weeks in summer. To see seasons change. Here there are four distinct seasons, all beautiful. In Sydney, they blend together.
  5. How long have you been in Latvia?  Almost four years. I came for a year, signed a 12 month lease which I keep extending as I love it here so much. I am so fortunate to live in the centre of Riga.
  6. What did you do in your home country? I was a pharmacist working in community pharmacy. Now retired. Not working for first time in my adult life. Maybe if I had to get up in winter in ice and snow and darkness and go to work, I wouldn’t find life here as enjoyable.
  7. What do you miss from your home country while living in Latvia? The vastness! And mangoes! And friends, of course. However, I don’t miss the traffic and challenges of big city living. So easy to get around in Riga, either walking or public transport.
  8. What do you do in Latvia? I only do what I want to do, what I enjoy. I have no commitments here, so wander around, enjoy the architecture, the galleries. Love the parks! And the concerts and choirs and opera are high quality and inexpensive. And I enjoy activities with International Women’s Club in Riga. We have Vija, the best tour organiser, who plans activities for us. We meet artists at their exhibitions, we climb the Freedom monument, we visit very beautiful country manors.
  9. Your were your first impressions of Latvia?  I first came in 1985 to Soviet occupied Latvia, then in the 1990s to independent Latvia. Differences were enormous, as they are now. Riga is now vibrant, and attractive. Always love the countryside. Every little town in Latvia is beautifully looked after. People are kind and friendly in the country. I do speak Latvian.
  10. What are the two or three biggest differences between your home country and Latvia?  The winter here is amazing for me. It’s like living in a ski resort without the mountains. I am handling the cold really well, but hate the slipperiness when it’s icy. Love the picturesqueness of snow in parks, and on buildings and on tree branches. In summer love the long days. Can fit so much into one day. I find spring amazing, eagerly awaited, the first green shoots appearing out of the snow. And the many shades of green! Autumn colour here is just gorgeous.
  11. What is your favourite place in Latvia? Why? Have travelled a lot in Latvia. Great surprises everywhere, castle ruins, old churches, beautiful manors and castles. And the greenness is magnificent. Recommend Cesis, Kuldiga, Talsi..all beautiful. And Liepaja is a must see.
  12. Do you have any tips for other expats? Travel outside of Riga. Choose a town, find half a dozen things to see, stop on the way, look around. The clouds in Latvia are just stunning. The countryside is so green. And don’t forget to visit our neighbours, Estonia and Lithuania. And join International Women’s club. You meet new people, make new friends, and support charities in Latvia.

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