Lounging In Latvia

Riga Travel Blog

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By the Laima Clock

Although Latvia has always been an important trading centre and strategically important in the Baltic region, for me it meant a chance of sleep after the late night arrival (or really early morning arrival) from the trip over the water to Finland.

The drive from Tallinn was on a bus that defied logic – seats with more than enough leg room, including room for your bag, complimentary refreshments and free Wifi. Having never travel in such luxury on an omnibus before, the trip on Eurolines was highly enjoyable and for 17.60 eek (€18.80), good value.

My time in Riga was spent soaking up the atmosphere of the place – the city is made up of a mixture of medieval cobbled streets and the UNESCO listed German Art Nouveau architecture and it blends well together.

Dinner at the Lido - all this food for least than USD$4 and the sauerkraut was so good!

I spent a lot of time just walking the streets seeing the sights such as the Three Brothers, House of the Blackheads, the Laima Clock, St Peters Church, the Town Square …. all are an easy walk from each other and just wandering the streets meant you would often stumble into something of interest, but it was the museums that captured my interest. While in Riga you can visit one of the many array of museums from medicine, porcelain, railway to firefighting, really there is a museum for each and every one of you. It was during my time within the capital that I went to two such museums the first being the Museum of the Barricades of 1991 and then Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. Both of these museums are free and rely on the goodwill of visitor donations.

The Museum of the Barricades of 1991 is a small museum located in the old part of town and within it discusses the time that the Latvian people defended their parliament from Soviet troops when trying to gain independence.

Although the museum is small there is a lot of primary sources to look upon and a video, which shows how the locals set up barricades on the streets, but it is only in Latvian. The English signage is lacking and as such I didn’t feel like I took in much of the exhibits but I really did like the room at the end of the hall with all the photos – quite poignant to see some of the youths who died fighting for this cause.

The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia is completely to the first museum I went to. Once again the admission is free, but the signage is complete. Each photograph, item, poem has been labeled in Latvian and English and I came out of the experience feeling more educated about the way the Latvians dealt with the subsequent Nazi and Soviet occupations of their country.

House of Blackheads
The exhibits were informative and moving including the disturbing reconstruction of the gulag barracks.

One of the things I have come out of this visit to Latvia is how proud as a people they are of their culture. First arriving around 2000 BC, Latvian tribes were always self governing, but by the end of the 13th century (when Riga was first mentioned), it was conquered by German Teutonic Knights and then was has been controlled in history by the Poles, Russians, and the Nazis before returning back to Russian control. Yet after fighting for independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the new state was quickly recognised by the international community – not a bad effort for a country with only 2.4 million residents.

I am now going to take my time and relax and soak up some more of the atmosphere and enjoy the freedom that has been fought so hard by the locals here.

Satiekamies pie Laimas pulksteÅ´┐Ża

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By the Laima Clock
By the Laima Clock
Dinner at the Lido - all this food…
Dinner at the Lido - all this foo…
House of Blackheads
House of Blackheads
Art on / above the street
Art on / above the street