Posted by: Mary | February 28, 2011

Another Beautiful Day in Riga

It’s a high of 25 degrees Fahrenheit today and perfectly clear with sunny skies. Of course, weather.com says it feels like 16 degrees and they’re right. It’s due to the wind chill. However, I’m happy that it’s been slowly getting a bit warmer each day, as promised in the forecast. While walking around today, the sun is melting some of the snow and ice on the roofs of the buildings, so it’s dripping onto the streets below. However, due to the freezing temperatures, it ends up turning into ice on the ground. It amazes me how the elderly and some of the women in their high heels walk on these cobblestone streets with black ice and don’t fall!

    

I started my morning with a walk to the Russian Orthodox church and ran into some sort of demonstration coming from the university next door. It was a peaceful march and seemed to have something to do with guns or arms based on the pictures drawn on the signs. The church was a magnificent building with five onion domes on top. Inside, it was very colorful, but not as large as it looks from the outside. There must be more to the building than just the church – perhaps their offices and other community rooms?

From here, I walked to the Art Nouveau section of Riga to check out the architecture it is so famous for. In addition to the Old Town being an UNESCO World Heritage site, the Art Nouveau section has made the list as well. I wandered from here back into the Old Town (Vecriga), looking for the Swedish Gate, the only remaining section of the old wall. When I found it, I realized that I had passed it the day before and took a photo without knowing that’s what it was. I made my way toward Domas Riga, the Riga Cathedral, and came upon the Three Brothers, the oldest medieval residences in Riga. All three look very different, but all catch your eye. It’s too bad that you can’t really back up far enough to get a good photo of all three together.

I headed down to the banks of the Daugava River, where I was able to get a photo of the Riga Castle, which is the home of the President of Latvia. It also houses two museums. One is not open until Wednesday, when I will be leaving for Lithuania. The other is the Foreign Art Museum, and I had planned to visit that tomorrow (it’s normally closed on Sunday and Monday), but when I visited the tourist information office, I learned that it’s closed until summer. That was a disappointment.

    

I wandered back up to the Riga Cathedral, which is a beautiful church on both the inside and out. I was surprised to find they allow flash photography, but it turns out that there really isn’t any artwork on the walls, which must be the reason. (The flash damages paintings.) The cathedral is famous for its organ and they hold concerts in the church, but none are going on while I am here. It would have been nice to attend one.

I walked up to the Jewish History Museum, which put me in a very large circle, past the Russian Orthodox Church. The museum is located on the third floor of the Jewish Cultural Center and consists of three rooms and a hallway. It’s rather small and the first two rooms are filled with photos and mementos of Jewish residents of Riga before and after WWII. The last room contains photos of people in the Ghetto or who were sent to death in concentration camps. It also includes photos of those who helped to save some of the Jews in Latvia. There are artifacts that were excavated from the old synagogue that was burned down by the Germans, the yellow stars and prisoner camp numbers that people had to wear, documents, etc. It was a moving exhibit.

After leaving the museum, I headed down to the flower market. Unfortunately, because it is so cold outside, the flowers are all indoors in little stands and not easy to photograph. They are beautiful in their large bouquets of roses, tulips, etc. There were even orchids, although I can’t imagine how someone gets them home in this freezing weather! Down the street from the flower market is a restaurant called Lido. It’s a cafeteria-style restaurant, serving Latvian food. I was able to find several vegetarian options and selected a rice dish with mushrooms, peppers and green beans, as well as a pancake filled with cheese, similar to a crepe. They had lots of freshly squeezed juice options and I chose blueberry juice. It was all very good and I was able to get a table overlooking the street to take in the sun and people-watch. It was another late lunch for me, so we’ll see what I end up doing about dinner.

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