Tuesday 18 August Riga (Latvia)

This morning we woke to blue skies and the sun shining again – the temperature is expected to be about 24°. We ate breakfast in the Lido Café and watched as the Captain sailed the ship down the Daugava River to the pier at Riga. The capital of Latvia, Riga is a beautiful Hanseatic city dating from 1201 and is one of the best preserved in the Baltic, with a blend of a medieval centre and a modern city. Riga has an interesting history, intertwined with the Germans, Swedish, Poles and Russians. Riga, which is now considered to be an affluent capital, was built in 1201 and became an independent country in the late 20th Century.
We disembarked the ship at 8.30am for our tour of Riga, which is often referred to as ‘Europe’s capital of Art Nouveau’ and is ranked as one of the most beautiful cities in Northern Europe, and we can see why this is!! There were so many beautiful buildings in City centre (800 altogether), ranging from Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque to Classical and Romantic style. The Old City has narrow cobbled streets, gabled slate roofs, old warehouses, leafy boulevards and parks.
The driver and our local guide, Anna, took us for an orientation drive of the modern city of Riga and then we got off the bus and walked through some of the city streets, admiring so many beautiful buildings that were mainly pastel coloured, with many carvings and sculptures adorning them, Apparently, inside they were just as ornate, with carved wooden staircases, stained glass windows, ornate ceilings and beautifully furnished. Some of the most beautiful buildings were by an architect by the name of Eizenstein in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They were so remarkable that words won’t do them justice!!
We tore ourselves away from this amazing area, boarded the bus and the driver drove around the outskirts of the Old Town, where we could see part of the old wall and also one of the 18 towers, The Gunpowder Tower built in the 18th century. We stopped at the Freedom Monument with the Angel of Freedom on the top and were able to get out of the bus and take photos. Then we walked, through some beautiful gardens, to the National Opera House, which was built in 1864.
We started our walking tour of the Old Town at the City Hall Square. We saw Blackheads House built in 1334 and renovated in 1999 and St Peter’s Basilica built in the 13th century – unfortunately there was a choir there performing so we were not able to go inside nor were we able to climb up to the observation platform where there would have been stunning views across the city of Riga and out to the Baltic Sea on such a beautiful sunny day with clear skies. We saw St John’s Church and in the square behind it we were able to make a wish on a special statue which had a pig at the bottom, then a dog, cat and rooster at the top – Sandy managed to reach the cat, which was the third one up, so she got 75% of her wish, so the legend has it!! We also saw Wagner’s Hall, where he and Liszt, Rubenstein and Berliozs have all performed.
When we arrived at Guild Square, we were taken into Maza Gilde, one of the beautiful buildings for an awesome performance by the International Latvian Dzarintarins Folk Dance Group. Boys and girls aged from 2 to 18, dressed in National costume, danced for us to lively Latvian folk music. They performed several dances, which were very lively and energetic, with every child smiling broadly the home time and appearing to be thoroughly enjoying performing for us. They had a cute little girl aged about 2½ doing one of the dances with some of the older children and she definitely stole the show!
We then walked to the Dome Cathedral built in 1211 and renovated in 19th Century – it is currently being renovated again – amazingly, it has 7,000 organ pipes. Then, we walked around to the Riga Castle, then to the Three Brothers, the oldest of which was built in the 14th century and was a bakery, then to St Jakobs, then to the Parliament of Latvia, the Swedish Barracks, part of the Old Wall, the barracks of the Swedish soldiers (from when it was under Swedish rule), and back to our bus.
We were away from the ship for approximately 4 hours including the time of the concert. Most of the time was spent walking on large uneven cobblestones. The city was clean, with not much vehicle traffic although we still had to be careful because we continually forget to look left first as the cars drive on the right hand side of the road. We saw open markets in the three main squares and a lot of restaurants had covered dining areas on the footpaths, which gave the city a wealthy, but relaxed feel. We certainly were not expecting to see such a beautifully ornate city and thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Riga!!
Not long after we boarded the ship, the Captain set sail for our next destination and we enjoyed a relaxed lunch up in the Lido Café with Tony and Carol. There was a cool breeze blowing as we watched Riga fade into the distance.
We had a quiet afternoon, updating our blog and sorting out the many photos from this morning’s adventure. We attended an interesting onboard lecture by James “A GeoTourist in St Petersburg”. We are looking forward to another BBQ up on deck tonight with the crew.

2 Responses to “Tuesday 18 August Riga (Latvia)”

  1. Janet says:

    So if Adrian could reach the rooster, does that mean he gets 100% of his wish? 🙂

  2. sandy says:

    Yes it does Janet. I told the others that my son-in-law would be able to reach the rooster!! 🙂 Hope you enjoy the next gallery of photos – Tallinn. xo

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