September 15, 2009


On Saturday we woke up in a Farm workers' Hostel. It is a Lodging house for the workers who pick fruit and vegetables in the season. (email: This place is called Jaunmarupe and is 20Km from Riga in the countryside.

Facing our little lodge are three giant chimneys. These are for the Community Heating plant, which provides the heating for the flats in the nearby hamlet. It also powers the greenhouses of the large Sabiedribamarupe fruit and vegetable farm which our lodge belongs to.

Riga Residence, a lodge for workers at sabiedribamarupe farm.

Not as bad as it sounds, and even though we had bunk beds, we made creative use of these. The plumbing in our accommodation was private and was good. Three nights spent here, and it only cost 50pence by minibus to get into Riga Centre.

Saturday was the big day of the Riga Festival (RīgasSvētki2009 and there were many activities.

A Classic Car Rally was held, and we witnessed this being led into the city centre with full Police escort and blaring sirens. Quite dramatic. However once the cars got onto the November 11th Embankment it was impossible to take photographs are people crowded them in. A pity.

Henschel Heavy. One of about 100 historic vehicles which were lead in police convoy accompanied by blaring sirens through the streets of Riga to display on the November 11th embankment

We went to the Ship Museum where free concerts were given all day, and heard a very moving mixed choir in the regal splendor of the central salon. Later I returned and saw some medieval dancing but recognised that the boy at least had been ballet trained.

Singing Ships. Free concerts all day in the Riga Ship Museum.
This one is a choir.

We took a little trip up the cast iron tower of St Peters Church and shot the view across Riga from this high spot.

Tower of St Peters, Old Town, Riga

Juris went away to attend a Buddhist lecture on meditation, so I wandered the sites on my own and we joined up later. We met on the Stone Bridge to see some Jet Ski racing on the Daugava river, and then into the old city for something to eat. After that we went to the Dome Cathedral (which doesn't really have a Dome) and sat down to hear the premiere performance of a “Russian Requiem” by Lera Auerbach (Listen Here).

This was very powerful stuff, which clear contrasts between the Boy’s Choir of Estonian National Opera and State Choir “Latvija”. In between stood the woman’s choir and in front Annely Peebo (soprano, Estonia), Nikita Storojev (bass, Russia), Tonu Kaljuste (Estonia) conducted the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. The solo boy sang exquisitely and far better than any sodding girl could (or should!!!). Charlotte Church and her ilk have a lot to answer for, debasing church choral music.

The Bass of the Russian men, sometimes underpinned by the deepest Organ pipes made the whole thing truly spectacular if rather long.

From the Aural to the visual and we regained the November 11th Embankment in time for the Fireworks competition. Nine companies competed for the honour to be selected for the next Riga Town Firework Event. The public voted for each display by SMS message to the local TV station which had a stage on the Embankment.

As the 9 sets of Fireworks went off the bangs echoed across the river and between all the buildings of the Old Town. The fiery sparks lit up the sky and twinkled off the ripples of the Daugava River. A wonderful end to this our first day.

Zeppelin and Mast. The Central Market (Rigas Centraltirgus) was opened in 1930 on the site of Zeppelin Hangars abandoned by the Kaiser in 1922. Behind stands the tripod Riga Radio and TV Tower (Rigas radio un televizijas tornis) which was built by Russia and opened in 1986
From Latvia 2009
[a PICASA album by RedSimon]

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