Things of Latvia: Buying booze at gas stations
In Latvia, where a chain of round-the-clock liquor stores is branded Fuel (Degviela), it's no surprise that gas stations, too, cater to people wishing to tank up in more ways than one. 
Things of Latvia: Not being kick-ass
"You can't please all of the people all of the time," Abraham Lincoln said (quoting poet John Lydgate) back in the days when American presidents were renowned for their wisdom, broad reading habits and their way with words.
Things of Latvia: ''MR'' registration plates

Foreigners love to moan about Latvia's roads and road users. The dangerous drivers, the disrepair, the lack of signs, the inability to parallel park. Let's imagine I've written all those pieces and you've read them and found them a bit disappointing.

Things of Latvia: Saying you like things a bit more than you do

Boiled eggs, mayonnaise, marinated gherkins: all of them I can eat, and all of them I don't particularly like. Combine them and you have the basic chemistry of the pre-eminent Latvian salad, rasols, so it is fitting that rasols was the thing that introduced me to an important but hidden concept within Latvian society: pretending to like things a bit more than you really do.

Pill pushers prey on public with fictitious advertising

Pensioners and others with health problems are being targeted by unethical advertising campaigns in which fictitious medical professionals recommend the use of humble vitamin pills to cure everything from deafness to parasitic infestation, an LSM investigation reveals.

Mr. Riga from Aleppo

Nawras Riga, whose surname is shared with the Latvian capital, is a gray-haired radiologist in Syria's Aleppo. He wears a ring, almost two centuries old, on his finger. It's amber, and it's a souvenir from Latvia, passed from generation to generation in his family. He is also the owner of Riga Palace, a hotel in Aleppo, the only one currently kept open in the war-torn city. 

Things of Latvia: School Markets

There's a peculiar tradition on Miķeļi (September 29), known in English as Michaelmas, for kids to bring homemade trinkets, food and other things to school for sale. It could be seen as an attempt to instill entrepreneurial spirit among young people, but wherever there are children involved, things are bound to slide off course. 

Anna and Ksenia's passport quest: The oath ceremony

A couple of our colleagues at Latvian Radio and LSM are on their way to becoming Latvian citizens after spending their lives so far as "non citizens" with an "alien passport". Here's the sixth part of their journey towards becoming full-fledged Latvian citizens. Now they describe the oath-giving ceremony after they successfully passed the citizenship exam, along with their feelings during the course of it.

Things of Latvia: Panels With Too Many People On Them

Most of our 'Things of Latvia' are lighthearted observations on national quirks in this, the best of the Baltic states. But this one is different. I write it with a bottle of tranquilizers to hand and according to how things go, I may have to take one, two or possibly the whole lot.

Things of Latvia: No mushrooms

The Latvian love of foraging for wild mushrooms is a matter of record. Indeed, while Latvians like to regard it as a national oddity (treating with barely-concealed disdain the claims of French and Italians to be keen on fungal foraging) the great mushroom hunt is in danger of becoming a cliche.

Things of Latvia: Trolleybus No. 15

The Riga trolleybus route Number 15 is the most famous public transport route in Latvia. It is an abundant source of urban lore and its route reveals the tragic side of Latvian history - to really get to know Riga and Latvia, you have to know the No. 15 trolley. 

Things of Latvia: Dill

A favorite party question of mine to foreigners is: "What do you think is the most popular flavor of potato chip in Latvia?"

Things of Latvia: A colourful pole

One hundred and twenty five kilometers from Riga on the Vidzeme highway, just before the turning for the town of Smiltene is the little 'Jautrais ods' ('Merry mosquito') cafe. The food there is good, fresh and cheap.

Things of Latvia: 'Nu'

Latvian is not the easiest language to learn - at least for English speakers - but it's nice that many visitors to the country do go to the trouble of learning a few words, such as 'Sveiki' (Hello), 'Lūdzu' (Please) and 'Paldies' (Thank you).

Things of Latvia: Latvānis

If April is 'birch month' when every self-respecting Latvian is gulping down gallons of birch juice, July might be regarded as its evil sibling, 'Latvānis month.'

Special Report: Asphalt in Alūksne

Following the publication of our feature about potholes earlier July 14, we were surprised to receive a furious reaction from one reader who accused us of slandering the fair city of Alūksne by using a picture of potholes there that he claims no longer exist.