Thursday, November 15, 2012

Riga, Latvia

We took an afternoon LuxExpress bus from Tallinn, Estonia, to our next destination:

Riga, Latvia

Finding accommodation in Riga was more difficult; so we opted for renting an apartment from the Riga B&B.      

Our "breakfast" consisted of $3 worth of pastries.

Our apartment was not located in the Riga Old Town, but that allowed us to explore some of the other parts of Riga.

On our first night in town, we ventured out in search of someplace to have dinner.  After the charms of Old Town Tallinn, Riga was a bit of a shock.  There was graffiti and abandoned buildings and hardly any open restaurants.

On our next morning, however, we took another free guided city tour, which brought us through the area we walked the previous night.  Our guide explained that everyone visits the Old Town of Riga, but hardly anyone ventures down the streets with the old wooden buildings and graffiti even though these "eyesores" are a large part of Riga's culture.
The market

So many vegetables!

Stalin's Birthday Cake

Our guide is wearing the green pants.

Ruins from the synagogue.
This was burned to the ground with several hundred Jews fleeing the Nazis trapped inside.

A school and an excellent portrayal of Latvian architecture,
according to our guide.

The Corner Building
In this building, the KGB tortured hundreds of people.  The building stands abandoned,
haunted by the lives lost during the Soviet era.

The Freedom Monument

On this tour, we gained an appreciation for the lesser visited parts of Riga, the real city, not just the tourist sites.  

Main Square in Old Town
Later, we met up with Kevin, who was doing his own tour of the Baltics, and climbed to the top of St. Peter's Church.
St. Peter's Church
"You haven't seen a city until you've seen it from above!"
Annie, Kevin, Myself, Kyle

On our second and final day in Riga, we sought respite from the rain in the National Museum of Fine Arts.

Roerich exhibit I wasn't supposed to take a picture of.  Oops.



With a few hours to kill before our overnight train back to Moscow, we shared a pot of tea at a glass hut in the park.  It was so comfortable and the perfect way to reflect on such an awesome vacation.

Is that Kevin again?!
Though both Riga and Tallinn were under Soviet rule; they have recovered from their communist past to an extent unparalleled in Russian society.  

Perhaps because the Baltic states came later to the Soviet Union;
Perhaps because the Soviet system was forced upon them and not the product of their own revolution;

Perhaps because they pursued membership in the European Union.

Myself and Annie
In Russia, I see a society still marred by the past.  However, I have hope that with my generation, a generation untainted by years of Cold War ideology and suffering, Russia will recover and forgive itself.


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  2. Hi, Great! Also I would like to use couple of photos from this article. Can I please?
    Thanks in advance!