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Riga .. November 1, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Uncategorized.

Riga wins a lot of awards for triumph over adversity, shafted by the Russians, shafted by the Nazis, shafted by the Russians (again) and then abandoned in the Socialist nightmare by the West. There is a real since of national pride here and the City really feels as though it wants to be left alone to be beautiful.

There is a great looking old town that Church fanatics would adore, stunning art deco buildings everywhere and lovely little alleyways to discover on your wanderings. It is a great looking place, larger than anything else in the Baltics, but because of that there is a lot to take in. Everything is here from Parks and Rivers, modern skyscrapers and quiant timber frames.

There are few essential ‘sights’ other than wandering the Old Town, but this can take up a couple of days with ease & it’s a world away from what some might picture of Eastern Europe .. we also went Antique shopping and bought some neat Soviet Tat, went up the elegant ‘in its day’ Palace of Science, took on the City Bus Tour (how rude can a driver be*) & seemingly walked miles and miles just for the sake of it ..

Top of my/our list was the Occupation Museum of Latvia, which is/was amazing. Jaw dropping facts on what they have been through as a nation – families actually fighting one another for German and Russian forces respectively after the hostile deportations to Siberia and prior to Germans ‘liberating’ the country .. and what a choice to make after being stung by Stalin, for Hitler to liberate you .. fight for Stalin or Hitler or die .. talk about tough decisions in life! It’s a very well put together exhibition and we even visited twice. I welled up at two points during the audio tour and laughed at loud at the absurdity on more occasions. Well worth a visit. Latvians have a right to be patriotic.

On the down side …. It’s not as nice as Vilnius IMHO, although this is a matter of taste .. it is too big to remain quaint and unfortunately too geared up to accomodate the impending hoards of Stag and Hen Parties from (largely) the UK. We were approached 7 times on one street to attend the local Strip Bars and even a polite ‘no thanks’ seems to do little to deter them asking again when you walk past later on. There is a real distrust by the locals because of the English Stag disease – even the listings papers state in the Top 5 things to avoid in Riga are the English! How proud are we??!!

There is so much good here to ignore the place though; rich in architecture, Soviet kitsch and contemporary history, but if tourism of the booze and binge kind continues at a pace, it will be a much less attractive destination. Please can someone build a half dozen strip clubs on some reclaimed land off Blackpool, the UK Government subsidise them for cheap beer and plastic surgery and then encourage the stag and hen types to stay home .. pretty please ..

Talinn tomorrow .. woo hoo ..

* separate post for that when I get home ..



1. Baltic Excursion .. « STaGediVe - November 12, 2006

[…] There were sights to see. Antique shops full of Soviet Tat – I got a very nice USSR flag with embroidered Hammer & Sickle from 1965 for a paltry £9. Plus the Nazi/Soviet Occupation Museum, covered in an earlier post was definitely the highlight. There was also some neat Art Deco stylings around the city, as well as a lot of aging timber framed dwellings that line major city streets, most in need of some TLC. […]

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