Hospital-themed restaurant in Latvia. Check in like a patient and order up a meal

Here’s another unsual restaurant that joins the ranks of off beat eateries like the Toilet Restaurant in Taiwan.

In Riga, Latvia, folks who head to the restaurant Hospitalis check in as if they are patients in a hospital. Once seated in the midst of operating tables, medical equipment and other hospital related paraphenelia, nurses wait on them.

The nurses are not real nurses, just dressed that way. Kind of. Their attire looks more like the va va va voom variety than the nurses who wear sensible shoes. Also, they can play the violin.

By the looks of the menu, this is not a restaurant with everyday food either. The offerings tilt toward the creative and interesting, particularly if you like fish.

In this recent post about Hospitalis in Jaunted, Victor Ortis, who lived in Riga after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, describes the drinks as being served in beakers and test tubes and the food in flasks and operating room dishes.

Although it doesn’t sound as if Ortis has eaten here, he surmises that the fact Hospitalis exists might indicate that Latvia has moved up in the culinary world from the days he ate a “Flake Burger–a thin, nondescript slice of meat on a waffle.

The photos are from Hospitalis’s website. The nurses were playing the violin during the restaurant’s opening.

Independence days and elephants

I’ve whipped out my International Calendar to see what might be left to tell about November before it slips away from Eastern Standard Time in a few hours. What I see is a whole lot of independence days and a slew of other politically geared occasions.

  • Nov. 1–Antigua-Barbuda gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1980.
  • Nov. 3–Dominica gained independence from the UK in 1978. Panama gained Independence from Colombia in 1903 and Micronesia gained independence from the U.S. in 1980.
  • Nov. 9–Cambodia gained independence from France in 1953.
  • Nov. 11–Poland gained independence in 1918; Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975.
  • Nov. 18–Latvia gained independence from Russia in 1918; Morocco from France in 1956.
  • Nov. 25–Suriname gained independence
  • Nov. 28–Mauritania gained Independence from France in 1968 and Albania gained Independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, Panama gained independence from Spain in 1821 and East Timor gained independence from Portugal in 1975.
  • Nov. 30-Barbados gained independence from the U.K. in 1966

Other than these, Tonga has had Constitution Day (Nov. 4); Russia, Revolution Day (Nov. 7); Brazil, Republic Day (Nov. 15); and Vanuatu has had National Unity Day, (Nov. 29)

My favorite happening of the bunch of events that occurred this month, though, is the Surin Elephant Round-Up in Thailand.

Jail Hotels: bunking like an inmate


Call me weird, but there is something sickly exciting about living in a hotel that used to be a jail. I prefer hostels, bed and breakfast inns and motels to hotels — with a special dislike towards 5-star luxury — but should I have the opportunity to stay at the new Boston jail hotel, I’d take it.

Smartly called “Liberty Hotel”, the once notorious Charles Street Jail celled Boston Mayor James Michael Curley and Frank Abagnale Jr., the con artist played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie “Catch Me If You Can.” After a $150 million refurbishment, it is now a 4-star hotel that seems to have succeeded in making something once squalid into something luxurious. Opened only in August, the likes of Meg Ryan and Mick Jagger have already been guests.

Less luxurious and more prison-like is the “Jail Hotel” in Switzerland, and the Liepaja prison in Latvia that takes your ‘lock-up’ experience to different heights. At the Liepaja, you are photographed and given a prison passport; you are given a medical test, a ‘do’s and don’ts’ list, and you have to make your own bed to strict army codes; a gun shot is fired if they see you smirking!

Any takers?

[Via ABC News]

Photo: Travelblog.org — Downpour30, Justin and Lauren

Europe’s Red Asphalt: The Most Dangerous Roads in the EU

Thinking of renting a car and driving through Europe this summer? Want to come back alive? Well then, there are a couple of countries you should probably avoid–mainly those located in the Baltics.

According to a recent EU report, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia had the highest number of per capita vehicular fatalities in 2006. Lithuania led the charge with 223 deaths per million inhabitants. Latvia took second with 177 while Estonia grabbed the bronze with 152.

A deeper analysis of the report in the Baltic Times wasn’t able to provide a clear answer as to why driving in the Baltics is such a dangerous ordeal. The paper did point out, however, that alcohol wasn’t entirely to blame. Only 14.8 percent of Lithuania’s fatalities were drunk driving related. Spain, on the other hand, holds the dubious honor of having the highest percentage of drunk driving fatalities: 29.5 percent. France and Portugal follow closely with 28.8 and 27.8 percent respectively.

Hmm… I might be wrong here, but I’ll bet those three countries consume more wine per capita than anywhere else in Europe. Heavy beer drinking countries like the Czech Republic and Austria, on the other hand, experienced only 4.8 and 5.9 percent of fatalities due to drunk driving.

So, where are the safest roads in Europe? Malta with 25 fatalities per million inhabitants followed by the Netherlands (43) and Sweden (49).

Word for the Travel Wise (12/17/06)

Latvia FlagAfter going through some of the language archives I just realized I forgot to include a very useful link in the Latvian lessons that can help not only with the exploration of Latvian, but many other langs as well. BBC Languages Quick Fix has a section for Latvian with audio on all the very basics. This is one of my favorite links and I have referred several people who want to learn more popular lingos to their pages. If you haven’t yet – please check it out!

Today’s word is a Latvian word used in Latvia:

paldies – thank you

To learn Latvian online for free you’ll need to be resourceful. Start with this Latvian Institute website full of info on the country and a short page dedicated to the lang and some common words which include axe, broom, pea, and beard. The Latvian tourism site has few, but far more useful in terms of greetings. If you’re more about face-to-face language practice head to the American Latvian Association’s annual meeting in April. As always find out who on My Language Exchange would be willing to help.

Past Latvian words: cirvis, dzintars, mugura