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Wednesday 17 May 2017

[2017]
[Tuesday 16 May 2017]

Riga, Latvia

Wellton Riga Hotel & Spa, Riga, Latvia
RIGA
Today, we visit beautiful Riga, largest of the Baltic State cities. Situated at the mouth of the River Daugava, this charming, cosmopolitan city offers a real mix of architectural styles. Spires of dark, gothic churches tower above the shadowy cobblestone streets below.
During our morning walking tour, we explore these hidden delights and the medieval maze that makes up the Old Town, including the striking foliage-covered Powder Tower – home to the Latvian War Museum, and the central Dome Square – the heart of seven atmospheric streets. Stand on the marked spot on the square and you can see all three golden cockerels on top of the Old Town church spires.
During the afternoon, you’re free to explore the city as you wish, a stroll through Riga’s famously vast Central Market, five pavilions of old Zeppelin hangars so iconic that it’s included on the UNESCO World Heritage list, along with the city’s Old Town.

Got out of bed ca.7.40am and did some diary update, with the help of Janet’s journal. Janet got up not long afterwards… I shaved and showered after she vacated the bathroom. We went down for breakfast a little after 8.30am. It was on the lowest level, the floor below reception and the lobby. Janet’s problem, of wanting boiled eggs but finding them completely hard-boiled, was repeated at this hotel. We went back up the stairwell to the room. The metal banisters emitted a deep ringing sound if one tapped them — which I did every time I ascended and descended! We went down to meet the party in the lobby for the pre-arranged 9.30am start. Alexander introduced us to Agrita our guide. She led us out of the hotel to the right, and right again along Vecpilsētas iela; and our first stop was at the same Hanseatic warehouse that Janet and I had noticed yesterday evening.




Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:38:56
Hanseatic warehouse, Vecpilsētas iela 10


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:39:42
Hanseatic warehouse, Vecpilsētas iela 10


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:40:06
Hanseatic warehouse, Vecpilsētas iela 10

As I glanced back (in approximately a south-easterly direction) the way we’d come, I noticed through the trees the top of an evidently Stalin-era skyscraper, a “cousin” to the “seven sisters” in Moscow.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:41:12
Stalin-era skyscraper, the Latvian Academy of Sciences edifice


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:44:28
Vecpilsētas iela 2

We could have borne right at the building shown in “09:44:28” (i.e. gone along its left side, as shown in the photo), but in fact we turned left, and at the end of the street, turned right into Alksnaja iela.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:46:46
At the end of Vecpilsētas iela: another Hanseatic warehouse, Alksnaja iela 7, converted into an art exhibition gallery and shop


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:46:54
Alksnaja iela 7: roundel on the wall (guild symbol?)

At the end of Alksnaja iela, on the left corner of Alksnaja and Mārstaļu was Riga Reformed Church.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:47:46
Towards the end of Alksnaja iela: 18th century Riga Reformed Church (left)


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:48:34
Mārstaļu iela 10: 18th century Riga Reformed Church


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:48:44
Mārstaļu iela 10: 18th century Riga Reformed Church


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:48:44 (detail)
Mārstaļu iela 10: 18th century Riga Reformed Church — “morning star”, not a cross or weathercock, on the apex

We turned right and went to the end of Mārstaļu iela, then turned right and immediately afterwards left into Skārņu iela. Directly ahead was St. John’s Church, dedicated to John the Baptist.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:50:30
Baroque house, now Rock Café, Mārstaļu iela 2/4


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:51:22
Baroque house, now Rock Café, Mārstaļu iela 2/4


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:51:44
St. John’s Church, Skārņu iela 24


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:53:12
St. John’s Church, Skārņu iela 24


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:54:32
St. John’s Church, Skārņu iela 24


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:55:46
St. John’s Church, Skārņu iela 24


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:56:02
St. John’s Church, Skārņu iela 24

Opposite St. John’s on the left side of Skārņu iela was the apse end of St. Peter’s Church. Both are parish churches of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia. Outside the latter was a statue, “The Bremen Town Musicians”, based on a Bothers Grimm fairy tale about a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster, who, to rid their cottage of robbers, stand on each other’s backs and make as loud a noise as they can. People seemed to feel the need to touch the heads of the sculpted animals, especially to jump up and touch the uppermost one. (The bane of all tourism, the Japanese, seemed to like doing this the most!). Agrita stopped, her party gathered round, and she told us things. On one such stop, she told us about the Latvian language, saying it was a Baltic language related to Lithuanian but to no other. She made no mention of the wider Balto-Slavic relationship that I’d seen on Wikipedia last night.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:57:50
Left, St. Peter’s Church; right, St. John’s Church


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 09:57:50 (detail)
Agrita addresses our group.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:01:14
Christa Baumgärtel (b.1947), The Bremen Town Musicians (1990, bronze)


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:01:50
St. Peter’s Church: apse


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:02:22
St. Peter’s Church: north side


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:03:16
Christa Baumgärtel (b.1947), The Bremen Town Musicians (1990, bronze)


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:04:34
St. Peter’s Church: bell tower, clock and weathercock

Then we went round to the west end of the church. I noticed the sign “Sv. Pētera baznīca” (“St. Peter’s Church”), which I took to be evidence that Baltic and Slavic languages are related. “Sv.” is an abbreviation for “Svētā”. I was already familiar with Janáček’s “Glagolitic Mass”, the text of which is in Old Church Slavonic. In the “Sanctus” of this, the first line is “Svet, svet,….”[i]

[i] That in itself wasn’t conclusive: in English our equivalent word is “holy”, yet before the name of someone holy we use the word “Saint”, which is borrowed from Latin “sanctus, sancta”. For all I knew “svētā” could likewise be a borrowing and not be evidence of the cognateness of Baltic and Slavic languages. However, back at home, I typed into Google Translate all the words related to holiness that I could think of — “holy”, “sacred”, “sanctify”, “hallow”, “saint” — and all came up with words with the root “svēt-”. Q.E.D.!


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:06:48
St. Peter’s Church: west façade


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:06:58
St. Peter’s Church: west façade


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:07:06
St. Peter’s Church: west façade


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:07:54
St. Peter’s Church: west façade


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:08:04
St. Peter’s Church: west façade


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:11:14
St. Peter’s Church: west façade

From there we continued westwards to Town Hall Square. On the south side was the ornate House of the Blackheads (a guild for unmarried German merchants). Originally built in the 14th century, it was bombed to ruin by the Germans in World War II; so what we saw was a modern replica. In the middle of the square was a “Roland statue” (a knight with a drawn sword), originally 15th century, though this one was a replica, the original being in a museum. Statues of the mythological hero Roland were erected in cities in northern and central Europe during the Middle Ages as an emblem of the freedom and rights of a town. I saw one on 4 May 2007 in Brandenburg, Germany. On the north-west side of the square was the Town Hall.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:12:24
Approaching the House of the Blackheads from the east


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:14:10
House of the Blackheads


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:14:54
Roland Statue


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:14:54 (detail)
Roland Statue


Compare Friday 4 May 2007 — 17:14:54
Roland Statue, outside the Old Town Hall, Brandenburg


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:17:08
Detailed views of the House of the Blackheads


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:17:38
Detailed views of the House of the Blackheads


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:17:38 (detail 1)
Detailed views of the House of the Blackheads


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:17:38 (detail 2)
Detailed views of the House of the Blackheads


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:17:56
Detailed views of the House of the Blackheads


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:17:56 (detail)
Detailed views of the House of the Blackheads


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:18:52
Riga Town Hall


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:19:46
Riga Town Hall

The Town Hall was on our left as we departed from the square at its northern corner, on Tirgoņu iela, where we saw a “tree” of mirrors, commemorating Riga’s claim to have had the first decorated Christmas tree in 1510. From there we bore left and went along Krāmu iela, then at the end turned right and went the short distance to Doma laukums (“Cathedral Square”), where we saw the 13th century Evangelical Lutheran cathedral.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:21:36
“Tree” of mirrors on Tirgoņu iela


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:22:30
Proceeding along Krāmu iela


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:26:58
Riga Cathedral


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:27:16
Riga Cathedral


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:27:56
Views around Cathedral Square: Stock Exchange building


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:29:18
Views around Cathedral Square: Latvijas Radio building


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:30:10
Views around Cathedral Square

From there we went westwards along Pils iela (“Castle Street”). At the end was an 18th century Catholic church, Our Lady of Sorrows.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:34:24
United Nations House, Pils iela 21, headquarters in Latvia since it joined the United Nations in 1991 soon after the restoration of independence


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:34:56
Interesting 18th century house, Miesnieku iela 1, on the corner of Pils iela (right) and Miesnieku iela (left)


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:36:24
18th century Catholic church, Our Lady of Sorrows, Pils iela 5

Before we got to it, we turned left briefly into Anglikāņu iela, to have a look at the 19th century Anglican church, St. Saviour’s, at its end. On the corner was the Embassy of Denmark, built in 1901, originally as a club for British seamen, as evinced by an emblem above the balcony window, with a shamrock for Ireland, Tudor rose for England (and Wales, presumably), and thistle for Scotland.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:37:00
19th century Anglican church, St. Saviour’s, Anglikāņu iela 2


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:38:00
In Anglikāņu iela: side of the Embassy of Denmark, Pils iela 11


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:38:22
Emblem above the balcony window: shamrock (left), Tudor rose (centre), and thistle (right)

Turning right at the Catholic church into Pils laukums (“Castle Square”), Riga Castle came into view, the official residence of the President of Latvia as well as home to several museums.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:40:40
Corner tower of Riga Castle


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:41:12
Riga Castle


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:41:38
Latvian Army guards and diminutive Military Police officer


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:43:18
Our Lady of Sorrows Church

From there, we went back eastwards along the street just to the north of Pils iela and running parallel to it, Mazā Pils iela (“Little Castle Street”). We stopped at the “Three Brothers” on the right side of the street (south side), three houses forming the oldest complex of dwelling houses in Riga. Initially I wasn’t sure which were the three being referred to. The first one, №17, with a crow-stepped gable, was the oldest, dating from the late 15th century. The middle one, №19, with a Dutch gable, had the date on it “1646”. The narrow far one also had a Dutch gable, and probably gained its present appearance in the late 17th century. There were two men playing brass instruments outside №17, and when we stopped they played Thomas Arne’s Rule Britannia! I joined in as much of the verse as I could remember, then belted out the refrain.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:46:24
The house before the “Three Brothers”, Mazā Pils iela 15


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:46:44
The “Three Brothers”, Mazā Pils iela 17, 19 and 21


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:46:44 (detail)
Duo with brass instruments


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:48:26
The “Three Brothers”: Mazā Pils iela 17, with Agrita addressing our group


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:49:06
The “Three Brothers”: Mazā Pils iela 19


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:49:46
The “Three Brothers”: Mazā Pils iela 19


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:50:00
The “Three Brothers”: Mazā Pils iela 21


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:50:20
The “Three Brothers” (№17 is hidden.)


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:50:20 (detail)
Detail showing two low reliefs on the wall at a right angle to №17

We turned left, just opposite the “Three Brothers”, down the short Mazā Miesnieku iela, and at its end right into Klostera iela (“Monastery Street”). To the right was the 13th century Roman Catholic cathedral, dedicated to St. James the Greater. To the left was the 19th century House of the Livonian Noble Corporation, the seat of government under the Russian Empire of Livonia (northern Latvia and a large part of southern Estonia), but since Latvian independence the seat of the “Saeima”, the parliament of the Republic of Latvia.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:52:14
Mazā Miesnieku iela: at the end, St. James’s Cathedral


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:52:34
Mazā Miesnieku iela: at the end, St. James’s Cathedral


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:54:34
The Saeima building, Klostera iela


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:55:08
“Latvijas Republikas Saeima”


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:56:32
St. James’s Cathedral, Klostera iela


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:56:44
St. James’s Cathedral, Klostera iela

At the end of Klostera iela we turned left, then second right (into Torna iela, “Tower Street”). On the left were James’s (or Jacob’s) Barracks, at almost 260 yards the longest building in Riga, built for the Swedish military in the 18th century to replace the earlier wooden barracks. (“James” and “Jacob” are the same in Latvian, as in most languages.) About 75 yards along Torna iela, we came to a gateway in the building on the right, the Swedish Gate, erected in “1698” (according to the inscription above it) in what was the city wall, after the end of the Polish-Swedish War when the Swedish Kingdom took over the city. It’s sometimes called the Lion Gate, because of the lion’s head, a symbol of Sweden, above the arch on each side. We went down the street beyond it (Aldaru iela).


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 10:58:24
James’s Barracks (left), Torna iela


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:03:16
Swedish Gate, Torna iela


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:03:44
Swedish Gate, Torna iela: lion relief in keystone, and inscription “1698” either side of it


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:04:28
Aldaru iela


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:04:58
Swedish Gate, looking back from Aldaru iela

We turned left at the end of Aldaru iela into Smilšu iela. Just there, Agrita pointed out the building on the near corner in Art Nouveau style and the one on the other corner also with some Art Nouveau features.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:07:48
Smilšu iela 8: building, 1902, by Baltic German architect Heinrich Scheel (1829–1909), now the Embassy of Slovakia


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:08:36
Detail of Smilšu iela 8


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:09:12
Smilšu iela 6

Sixty yards or so farther along Smilšu iela we bore right and went down Mazā Smilšu iela, and nearly 80 yards farther still, we came to the intersection of Mazā Smilšu iela and Meistaru iela, where opposite to the right was the Cat House, an Art Nouveau building from 1909. It had round towers on the north-west and south-west corners, and on the apex of each was a cat sculpture with arched back and raised tail. The story goes that the owner was refused entry to the Riga Tradesmen’s Guild and got his revenge by pointing the cats’ anuses towards the house of the Great Guild across the street. After a lengthy court battle the merchant was admitted, on condition that the cats be turned in the opposite direction!


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:11:34
Cat House, Meistaru iela 10


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:12:14
Cat House, Meistaru iela 10: cat on the north tower


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:12:32
Cat House, Meistaru iela 10: cat on the south tower


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:12:56
Cat House, Meistaru iela 10


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:14:52
Cat House, Meistaru iela 10: Art Nouveau decoration around the main entrance

Just south of the Cat House, we came to Līvu laukums (“Livonian Square”), more like a park than a city square, with flower beds laid out like waves. It’s a modern feature, situated on the cleared ruins of buildings destroyed in World War II. As we entered the square, we passed a large, round granite head with a sombre expression. It was supposed to be Ako, a Livonian chieftain who attempted to expel the Germans but was killed in 1206.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:18:40
Ģirts Burvis (b.1962), Head of the Liiv, 2003


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:18:52
“Decorative sculpture THE HEAD OF THE LIIV… Sculptor Ģirts Burvis, 2003”


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:20:48
Līvu laukums, looking north: Great Guild (left); Cat House (centre right)


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:20:48 (detail)
Cat’s anus now pointing away from the Great Guild!


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:21:28
Līvu laukums, looking west


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:21:48
Līvu laukums, looking south: Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theatre

From there, we went some 200 yards north-west to the bridge over the City Canal. The old city is surrounded by water: the Daugava River on the west; and the canal, part of the old city defences, on the other sides. Agrita pointed out the 138-foot high Freedom Monument on the farther side of the canal, unveiled in 1935 to honour soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence (1918–1920). And there our very interesting two-hour walking tour ended. I had a walk around the monument to photograph it, and Janet got a bit worried because I was gone longer than she expected.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:25:42
Freedom Monument


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:26:24
Freedom Monument


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:28:20
Freedom Monument


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:28:38
Freedom Monument


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:29:32
Freedom Monument: Guard of Honour


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:35:18
Freedom Monument


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:36:26
Freedom Monument


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:36:26 (detail 1)
Freedom Monument


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:36:26 (detail 2)
Freedom Monument


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:36:56
Freedom Monument


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:36:56 (detail)
Freedom Monument


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:37:48
Freedom Monument


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:37:48 (detail 1)
Freedom Monument


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:37:48 (detail 2)
Freedom Monument


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:38:28
Freedom Monument: Guard of Honour


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 11:41:00
City Canal and National Opera House

From there, Janet and I found an ATM and withdrew €100, then we went back to the hotel to put some of it in the safe in our room. Then we went out for lunch. We passed the establishments on Meistaru iela opposite Līvu laukums (on the photo “11:21:28”), but they all looked a bit posh with tablecloths. We ended up in Aldaru iela (the street to the Swedish Gate) and a bar/restaurant on the right-hand side, Garāža — not surprisingly, given the name, with car and motor-bike seats as bar stools. I had a dark beer from Latvian brewers Valmiermuiža. I had a “club sandwich”, which was served with chips, and Janet had a Caesar salad “without the ‘Caesar’”. Agrita had spoken about Riga traditional Black Balsam, a very bitter-sweet liqueur, which was available with its original recipe, and also flavoured with blackcurrant; so I tried an original one, 45% a.b.v. It tasted like very strong cough medicine, though I suppose one could acquire a taste for it. The bill at Garāža was €32.30.






Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 12:38:40
Garāža, Aldaru iela 10


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 12:44:48
Garāža, Aldaru iela 10: Valmiermuiža dark beer


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 13:13:32
Garāža, Aldaru iela 10


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 13:26:20
Garāža, Aldaru iela 10: Riga Black Balsam

Then we went back the way we’d come. Just north of the hotel, a block away, was a large shopping centre, Galerija Centrs, with a central mall and galleries with shops in them on four floors on either side. On one side there was a fifth floor with a hairdresser’s. Janet wanted to have her hair washed, and we found this hairdresser’s; we went in, and she was offered an appointment at 3.30pm. We bought two postcards from a shop in Galerija Centrs, including stamps, for €1.69 each, then went back to our hotel room for me to write them. I looked up “Germany” and “Great Britain” in Latvian (14:29)…, then I wrote the postcards, one to Chris and one to my Mum. We asked at reception if we could post them there, before heading out. We went to a coffee bar just north of Galerija Centrs; I had a double americano (€2.70) and Janet a Coke Zero (€1.50), and Janet paid for it with a €50 note that the ATM had supplied.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 15:05:54
Double Coffee, Teātra iela 12

Then we went back to the hairdresser’s. “At 3.30pm I had my hair done,” Janet wrote. “It cost €16 and I gave a €2 tip. Very reasonable, again — everything so much cheaper than Helsinki. It looked good, too.” As I sat there waiting for her, I picked up a copy of OK magazine. It was in Latvian, so I couldn’t read it, but I did notice one thing: in most languages using the Latin alphabet, foreign names are spelled as they are in their own language, unchanged; but in OK, British model Kate Moss was “Keita Mosa”, and German model Claudia Schiffer was “Klaudija Šifere”. It reminded me of when I was corresponding with Jelena in Krasnoyarsk in Esperanto in the late Soviet era; she mentioned “Iv Sen Loren”, and it took me some time to realise that it was Yves Saint Laurent — not quite the same, because she was transliterating from Cyrillic. It had been mentioned that the “Skyline Bar” on the 26th floor of the Radisson Blu hotel was open for visitors as well as hotel patrons, affording a good panoramic view of Old Riga, so we’d decided to pay it a visit. It was situated on the other side of the City Canal some 500 yards beyond the Freedom Monument (and indeed appears on photos of the Monument: “11:25:42”, “11:28:20”, “11:28:38”, and “11:35:18”). On the way, we got a closer look at the National Opera House.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 16:04:12
National Opera House


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 16:05:40
Monument to Māris Rūdolfs Liepa (1936–1989), Soviet Latvian ballet dancer


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 16:06:24
“A monument to a citizen of Riga, the outstanding ballet artist
Māris Rūdolfs Liepa
Philanthropic donation of Boriss and Ināra Teterevi to the City of Riga
Artists: Jaan Toomik and Jüri Ojaver
2013”


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 16:18:40
Radisson Blu Latvija Conference & Spa Hotel, seen from Brīvības bulvāris

In the Skyline Bar, I was surprised to find that beer was available in pints, and I chose an unfiltered, amber-coloured beer. I had a couple of them. There were two seats unoccupied at a window-side table for four, at which were seated a younger couple. After we sat next to them, it turned out that they were in our party — and we hadn’t noticed them till now! For it was a large group: 51. There appeared some spots of rain on the window. We were there ca.1½ hours. We’d come up by one of the lifts in the lobby, but we descended, ca.6pm, by a glass-sided lift on the side of the building.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 16:43:52
A pint of unfiltered amber ale at the Skyline Bar


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 17:39:34
Panorama of Old Riga


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 17:39:46
Panorama of Old Riga


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 17:40:10
Panorama of Old Riga


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 17:40:26
More detailed views: Riga Radio and TV Tower and Latvian Academy of Sciences edifice


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 17:48:34
More detailed views: along Brīvības bulvāris


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 17:49:10
More detailed views: Nativity of Christ Cathedral


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 17:50:14
More detailed views: St. Peter’s Church

Before we returned to the Old City, we stopped to visit the nearby 19th century Russian Orthodox Nativity of Christ Cathedral.


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 18:06:14
Nativity of Christ Cathedral, Brīvības bulvāris 23

If Janet had realised earlier that we’d be going there, she’d have brought her “babushka” headscarf with her; but she was wearing a hooded parka-style coat, so she kept the hood over her head. (It was raining a bit, so she had her hood up on the way.) I found it very moving in there (we both did). There was a black-robed priest walking around carrying a thurible, and he wafted incense from it at both Janet and me. Photography wasn’t allowed inside the church, but below is an image I lifted from Flickr, posted by “zug55”. There were three iconostases: a central one, with a large image of the Mother of God (“Μήτηρ Θεοῦ”) behind it, with the infant Christ (“ὁ ὢν”) in a roundel between her open hands; and two flanking smaller iconostases. The worshippers, mainly or all older women, were concentrated more towards the right-hand one, which suited my nonconformist Protestant sensibilities better because the image was of the glorified Christ, flanked by worshipping saints and winged angels. I imitated the gestures of the woman to my right: crossing herself (the eastern up, down, left, right, not the western up, down, right, left) and bowing at intervals during the incantation.[ii] There were two illuminated signs, perhaps either side of the main iconostasis, one with the word “ХРИСТОС” and the other “ВОСКРЕСЕ”.[iii] In Uspenski Cathedral, Helsinki, visited on 12 May 2017, there’d been “Х” and “В”.

[ii] So that gave the lie to what I wrote on 15 February 2017: “I won’t bow before a statue of a once-dead man who, behold, is alive for evermore, let alone one of a dead fat man who remains dead” — not a “statue” on this occasion, but essentially the same sort of thing.
[iii] “Christ is risen!” Easter this year was Sunday 16 April both in the West and the East, so the question arises: how long do they keep the Paschal greeting on display afterwards?


Posted on Flickr by “zug55

From there we went to find a place to eat. We continued in the direction we’d been going: past the Freedom Monument, across the City Canal over Alexander Bridge, and along Kaļķu iela (the continuation of Brīvības bulvāris on the other side). We passed Līvu Square on our right, weren’t tempted by the establishments at its far end, and decided to go in Il Patio, an Italian restaurant in a brick-vaulted semi-basement near the end of Kaļķu iela on the left. I had a pizza and Janet had a mixed Greek salad and grilled salmon. Can’t remember what I had to drink. The bill was a very reasonable €32.30, coincidentally the same as at Garāža. Janet wrote: “I pointed out how often I’d seen, in Helsinki, Tallinn and Riga, pairs of women dining out together at any time of the day and evenings. Something that’s rare in the UK.”


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 18:42:08
Il Patio, Kaļķu iela 6


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 18:50:22
Il Patio, Kaļķu iela 6


Wednesday 17 May 2017 — 18:51:18
Il Patio, Kaļķu iela 6

We got back to the hotel, ca.8pm. It was still raining; but apart from that and a bit of snow and hail on the first day the weather has been good. I went down to the lobby, logged on to Finnair, and printed our boarding passes for both of tomorrow’s flights. Janet, meanwhile, showered, then packed as much as she could. Back up in the room, I checked e-mail accounts (20:59–21:05); there [were]… a couple of messages from Finnair inviting on-line check-in, which I’d done anyway… Transferred 117 photos… taken during the day, from my camera to the WD Elements HDD (21:09–21:14). Looked through the photos using Windows Photo Viewer, rotating 53 that needed it (21:15–21:26). Janet was getting ready for bed, and I did the same. Because Alexander’s suggestion was to aim to be in the lobby to check out at 8am, so that if there were any hold-ups they would not delay our setting out at 8.30am, she set the alarm clocks for ca.5.30am. We were in bed by 10pm, but outside there started up some loud, amplified, unaccompanied singing by one man; it had a “folk” quality to it, and it went on and on and on — interminably as far as I was concerned, for eventually I did fall asleep. Perhaps it was some festive chanting of their national epic.[iv] “We shut the window, put the bathroom fan on, and I stuffed my ears up with tissue, all to no avail,” Janet wrote. “I could still hear him. …I was still wide awake when he finally shut up (he sang the same song without a break) just after 11.15pm.… I was so upset by that time it was a while before I finally fell asleep.”

[iv] Just as with the Finnish Kalevala and the Estonian Kalevipoeg, there is a Latvian epic “Lāčplēsis” (“Bear-slayer”) recounting the life of the legendary hero Lāčplēsis, chosen by the gods to become a hero of his people.

[Thursday 18 May 2017]



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