Day 4-5 (May 6-7)
Next morning we had an early star leaving by 6am. Our hotel kindly packed us a breakfast, and then we were off to Riga by coach. About a 5 hour journey.
Coming into Riga it seemed quite a depressing looking city with old Soviet style buildings or older buildings that had been neglected under Soviet rule. The bus dropped us off at the bus station next to the local food market, which was outside and inside 5 large aircraft hangers. The produce looked wonderfully fresh.
After settling into our hotel we headed out to get a quick bite at the market, and then met our local guide. Our guide was a retired army officer who had been a language instructor. He was full of history, architectural knowledge and very engaging. We walked through park of which Riga has many of and headed into the Newtown. There were wonderfully restored art deco and other buildings, which had unique designs from the local and other architects. Amongst the restored buildings were some wonderful ones yet to be restored and just waiting for the economic times to pick up.
From here we went into the old
town which was full of charm, as so many are. The initial impressions of Riga were soon put away as we were impressed by both the old and new town areas.
The following morning we headed out of town about 40 minutes to the ethnographical museum. Our guide was an older lady full of character and quite humour. She guided us through what life had been like for the various regions of Latvia, whether living in farming or fishing areas. There were buildings that had been moved here into a lovely forest setting since the museum was established in the 1920’s.
We heard how a young girl had to fill her chest or cupboard with dowry items that included hand embroidered shirts and skirts, shawls and at least 300 pairs of knitted mittens. The mittens were for giving as presents to the guests at her wedding, as well as to last her family for her lifetime.
Back in Riga city and we had time to explore some more of the buildings, as well as the river itself. That evening we went up the local international hotel which provided a wonderful view across the city to the harbour.
As it doesn’t get dark until after ten we had a wait until the sun set but it was worth it. We topped off the evening with a late dinner of pizza (not very local but every place does it’s pizza a little differently).
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