September 15, 2009


On the day before we left Riga for Russia we explored some other aspects to Riga.

Sunday started damp; it had rained a little during the night and the grey clouds told of a gloomy day ahead with the possibility of precipitation.

Although late to bed because of the Fireworks, an early start was necessary because Juris had a lecture to attend. We walked to the end of our lane and took one of the Minibus coaches into Riga. These are privately run as an addition to the efficient council run bus services. Using Shagged out Charabancs probably imported from Germany or another neighbour ours was a 15-seater Renault but with no actual limitation to 15 passengers. It works and returned us to Riga centre in 25 minutes for just 0.45Lats (about 60pence).

We walked down slightly tired streets past jaded buildings that clearly had seen a much more prosperous time about 100years ago, and then many new economic dawns that had turned out to be very short grey days instead. 

So some of the buildings are original and have a patina, whilst others have been yuppified or more recently become abandoned future projects.  Latvia has been well and truly credit-crunched and is at least financially bankrupt.

We gained entry into an original building and took our places within a modest apartment converted to a Buddhist Mission.  There a guest speaker from Germany gave a long exploration of the concept of "Voidness" and I won't attempt to explain it as I am sure Google will do a better job. He spoke in perfect English and every paragraph or so was then translated by another man into Latvian. For more than 2hours we explored Mantra, Tantra and the Heart Sutra and then we walked back into the real world.

Well not quite. The gloomy afternoon suggested an indoor pursuit so we headed to the central Multiplex and viewed Tarantino's latest film "Bedigi slavenie mergli".

Tarantino's oeuvre really isn't my cup of tea, and "Inglorious Basterds" (in English) is a fanciful and fictitious festival of gore really NOT to my taste at all.  It was an interesting experience, however, because the film was screened in "English" with both Latvian and Russian subtitles.  However, much of the dialogue is actually spoken in French or German and would have had English subtitles to interpret.  Lacking these English clues I was failed by my French and absence of German. The violence translated.

This film is supposed to be on a theme of revenge, well in my opinion it is merely a self-indulgent revenge by Tarantino on the public for not liking his last two movies.

And so Riga centre where we opted to take a boat trip on the Daugava River.  On a grey evening the boat cruised slowly up the river towards Lithuania until it reached the new Red Bridge before turning and heading back towards the Baltic Sea end of Riga. There were only about 6 passengers and no commentary, so it was quite a solemn little passage.  As we were turned to regain our dock, the sun broke through the evening clouds and some photos were possible.  People who boarded this cruiser after us enjoyed a much sunnier cruise.

We turned for our lodge at Jaunmarupe, managing to miss a couple of buses on the way, but flagging down the 2003 Taxi Bus for the bouncy return.

From the Daugava River showing the arched roofs of the Zeppelin Market and the Soviet-built tower Stalinist Academy of Sciences building.

View from the Daugava with the spire of the Dome Cathedral (left) and St Peter’s (right)

From the Tower of St Peter's Church looking towards the Dom Cathedral and the Daugava River beyond

Riga Skarnu Street, in the Old Town showing the stepped end wall of St Johns Church

Riga Brivibas iela. 'Freedom Street', this street runs straight through the city and hardly curves at all as it becomes the A2 and takes traffic away from Riga. The Freedom Monument is also visible and behind the Russian Orthodox Nativity of Christ Cathedral.
From Latvia 2009 [a PICASA album by RedSimon]

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