Being a travelling musician in Latvia has an interesting condition attached that is identical to what I have struck in Russia. The general rule in the USA, Western Europe or Australia is that you get paid a fee and provided with a hotel room. Your meals you find for yourself and if you're lucky the Festival artistic director or a venue will shout you one. If you are in Europe, breakfast is always included in accommodation. No problem with all of that. But in Russia and Latvia (and I suspect it will be in Estonia) they very kindly seem to feel that they are your "host" and therefore all meals are provided which is of course great for the budget. Naturally, though, they can't give you carte blanche
to order what you like. All the musicians here at the Rigasritmi Festival are staying at the splendid Hotel Riga and the organisers have negotiated a deal with the hotel to feed us in one of their restaurants. We have meal tickets given to us by the Festival which we dutifully produce to the restaurant but don't have a choice as to what we eat. This is fair enough (and I look forward to the surprise of finding out what it is each time), they are "hosting" us and when you are invited for a meal you eat what the host provides. Thing is, we are being provided with three
cooked meals a day each containing meat (or fish) in a creamy sauce, potatoes and delicious vegetables (plus sweeties). It's all
delicious but I don't normally eat like this! I'm a bowl of muesli in the morning man, simple sandwich for lunch and a lean dinner. Three rich cooked meals - heavens, my waistline! What can you do, if someone puts food in front of me I eat it! Moreover I clean my plate up generally.
Next, laundry stories (only kidding). But if you want any other particular tidbits from the road, holler in them there comments.