March 10th, 2014


Random Notes On Riga...

Returned to hideous (to Me) HEAT, and I was wearing four T shirts and a jacket. (Still quite chilly in Latvia, especially when overcast, which is most of the time.) Tense check-in  going home, including being proper frisked by a Rosa Klebb type who seemed to take great pride in her work. My tit and groin areas were thoroughly examined. Didn't have to remove shoes, at least.
RyanAir has a new treat in store; laying out 7 euros for 'security charge'. Receipt then has to be passed through the machine, after I'd  already lost mine, etc.  RyanAir always lands really bumpily, too, with ironic applause from the passengers.
Here's an Eisenstein sphynx with a nose like Rebecca Adlington's.

People in 'the still centre' all look very rich, and yes, it is very quiet, even for Riga. I went to the Art Nouveau Museum, which was nice, but I think I missed a lot of the famous facades, even after getting a taxi to Alberta street,..( Close as it was, I couldn't find it...) I also didn't realise there were two-hour tours specially to see the architecture. Nothing much is happening, as there are so few tourists around. I was on a City Tour coach with like, four other people.
The hotel gave us a free bottle of Black Balsam, only I didn't realise it was a giftie, and spent 3.50 on a miniature! Oh well...I didn't have room in my backpack to take it home, and probably wouldn't have been allowed to, anyway. Bah.
Must say, on  my first nip, I didn't think it was all  that bad. Then when I tried it again  later, I thought no, it really is rather disgusting, even with a mixer.
Riga is *CLEAN*  No litter at all. Even saw a teenager bend to pick up a dropped sweet wrapper. Incredible. People in general seem pleasant and polite. Only had one woman in a souvenir shop suspiciously follow me around to make sure I wasn't stealing, and suggest expensive things I should buy, which got on my nerves.
Couldn't fault the cosy, well-situated Gutenberg's Hotel, either, except for the fact that every other day, the breakfast food wasn't very good. When it was good, it was scrummy. Excellent porridge.
Eating (or not) in Riga:
My newish inner workings are weird. Sometimes I can eat just as I used to before the op. Other times (like in Riga-) I'm just not very interested in food, and can't 'hold' very much.
The LIDO chain of serve-yourself restaurants, as endorsed by motodraconis , have a huge variety of hearty-looking dishes and tempting sundae-type things, cheapish. It was dark, and I couldn't read the English translations, but most of the stuff was obviously meat, and heavier than I was in the mood for. I ended up with a slice of 'blackthorn pie', which was odd, but OK. Otherwise, apart from a couple of supermarket sarnies, all I ate in Riga, after a big breakfast daily, was cakes! One night, before I discovered LIDO, I blew 7 euros round the corner from the hotel, on walnut pancakes with pistachio ice cream, lots of fresh fruit, and syrupy stuff. Nice. On another coffee break, near the Sun Museum, I scoffed half a piece of 'curd pudding' which also came with lots of fruit and nice compotey stuff. Liked that, too, but just couldn't eat any more.
More travel trivia and sketchbook stuff to come. I didn't really draw much at all, but took a lot of photos...which I don't know how to upload. D'Oh!


More Riga Ramblings...

There is virtually NO TRAFFIC in Riga. The Old Town is almost totally pedestrianised. Even in the central shopping/office area, it's really not bad for a city. In the central park, no smoking is allowed, either. The air is noticeably fresh for an urban area.
When I finally trudged upon the Sun Museum, it was a bit of a let-down. There's a lot of boring 'science' stuff, including a wonky waxwork of Gallileo. Then, there are several rooms of arty crafty representations of the sun. Looks like someone's collection of solar souvenirs from places they'd travelled. That was all OK, if not thrilling.
The weird thing is, before you start, you have to sit in this room and paint a little plaster sun plaque of your choice, which dries while you're walking around, and you can take it home. There were a few other people ahead of me, there, but when I got back, there was only one sun left, and it wasn't mine! The guy very nicely offered to let me make another, but I opted to just keep the strange one that had been left 'for' me, green rays, etc. Think it was a kid's work. I quite like it.
On the last evening, I also discovered, right by the hotel, a branch of LIDO, and a lovely-looking bakery with huge seedy pretzels. (Drool) Unfortunately, I was, by this time, full of 'curd pudding', and pretzels usually need to be eaten straight away. Bah.
I was peeved about the National Art Museum and House of Blackheads (murals)  being closed for refurbishment, but in the old Stock Exchange is a very attractive modernisation, which is now an art museum. Loads of interesting stuff by artists I'd never heard of ,porcelains, and an exhibit of fascinating, haunting paintings by a couple of short-lived Symbolists:
Like I said, I visited about a dozen churches during my stay. Unfortunately, not many of them were very interesting. Even the RC ones were unusually  plain and dour. The beautiful Orthodox Cathedral was an exception, though,(Don't forget to cover your heads, gurlz-) . I was hovering curiously over the ornate sarcophagus of some saint, who lay wrapped in velvet, etc, when two priests came in and started chanting away, evidently paying tribute to him. I joined the dozen or so other babushkas who were in attendance, and the priests went on and on, finally distributing communion, etc. and departing. Memorable.
Just down the road is another Orthodox church, full of equally intriguing icons. I was moseying around gawping,when a choir, rehearsing, I thought, began to sing. How lovely, thought I, and then I saw an ancient flower-decked lady lying in her coffin...Gave me a turn, I can tell you. Things like that freak me out. The next church was St Gertrud's, another rather unfancy place. When the solo soprano let rip, I wasn't all that surprised that the next thing I saw was another corpse! This one, also a woman, looked worryingly young. An old man sat in mournful attendance. I departed.
Is Friday Funeral Day in Latvia?