Latvia

  

     
Here I am the at a Baltic State - Riga, Latvia!

Much of Riga was bombed during WWII. As a result, much of the old town (where I am in the pic) is reconstructed and restored (currently still in progress).
 
                
<- Dome Cathedral (1211). This time I an fortunate to have a travel buddy, Ricky, with me for this Riga trip. He's been to 50-60 countries around the world and he liked Europe so much he eventually quitted his job in Canada and moved here. Whether I will follow his foot step?? Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps. 
      Riga is the home to the largest concentration of Jugendstil (German Art Nouveau) architecture in the world. Buildings are encouraged to carry individualism, an identity to stand out from one another.

They are stunning! Want more? click here.

        
Alberta iela 13 (1904), by Mikhail Eisenstein.

Antonijas iela 8 (1904), by Konstantīns Pēkšēns

Elizabetes iela 10a und 10b (1903), by Mikhail Eisenstein.

Alberta iela 13 (1904), by Mikhail Eisenstein.

The House of Blackheads. 

Alberta iela 8 (1903), by Mikhail Eisenstein

Smilšu iela 2, (1902), Konstantīns Pēkšēns

Strēlnieku iela 4a (1905), by Mikhail Eisenstein
        
The House of Blackheads is one of the famous buildings in Riga. The original was built in 1344 as a merchant guild. The original house was destroyed during WWII and buried by the Soviets in 1948. The present one was rebuilt in 2001 with careful attention to its original structure and exterior ornamentation to commemorate Riga's 800th anniversary.
        
Overlooking the City of Riga.

Famous rooster spire top, to shout away the sin.

In front of the tree bushes is the old town district. Walking from one end to another end of old town is only 5-10 min. Everything quite easily accessible.

The Freedom Monument, erected in 1935, facing the West from the East, a symbol of freedom away from Russian rules. Good it was saved during the later Russia occupation.

                    

The Orthodox Cathedral

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Capture me... you Russian tourist.
        
August 23, 1989, approximately two million people joined their hands to form a Baltic Chain spanning over 600 km across the three Baltic states – Estonian SSR, Latvian SSR, and Lithuanian SSR.
      Big Christopher, which the Legend of Riga said he saved a boy crossing the Daugava River and somehow chest of gold coins located where the boy rested on him. The $$ was then used to found the City of Riga!
Susan, our personal tour guide for the city. From her, we learned so much of the history, politics, arts, life style and people of Riga. Thanks!
        
Occupation of Latvia - Latvia, being a small country in between two great powers, can't avoid being the center of conflicts. The most horrible part of history to me is that Latvians were recruited by both USSR and Nazi as front line soldier against each other...
- Occupation by Nazi Germany, 1941
- Occupation by Soviet Union 1944–1945
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Annexation by Soviet Union and became Latvian SSR
- The Iron Curtain fell and Latvia became independence in 1991.
Statue of the Town Musicians. It relates to a story which a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster, all past their prime years in life, were soon to be discarded by their farm owner. They leave their homes and decide to set out together to Bremen, Germany, known for its freedom, to live without owners and become musicians there. This statue is a gift from Bremen to Riga in 1990 which the musicians set their feet from the West over the Iron Curtain. Their expression tells all - they couldn't believe what they see...

Latvian Academy of Sciences (1956), a gift from workers and peasants of other Soviet republics. It is decorated with hammers and sickles and Latvian folk ornaments and motifs.

Monument to the Riflemen, commemorates the Latvian joining the red army in order to defend Baltic territories against Germans during the WWI.

Area around the Riga Castle. After the independence, the gov't has heavily contributed efforts and resources in reconstructing the town. Here is a glimpse of the non-touristic part of old town.

St Peter's Cathedral. The buildings in this area are amongst the oldest in Riga. But with much of city destroyed during the WWII, most (including the churches) are reconstructed.

A typical residential-turned-into-a-factory building.

The Three Brothers (15th-18th cen.) are the oldest stone houses still standing in Riga and excellent example of different medieval architecture.

Riga is actually a safe city to me. We went out at night to the local area and there were no trouble people, no drunks. The streets are very quiet. Well, guess they don't go out that much on a Tuesday night.

Night view of the main street of a local area. Riga is quite modern than what I originally thought it would be. It is a civilization, with cobbled streets, tram lines, normal European style buildings.

  

           The area in Riga that I enjoyed the most is the Central Market. I was like walking into a documentary about the Soviet time. Like living in a time capsule.
 
 
The Central Market used to be a train station...

and now it became a local market.
        
Inside the market are all kind of food and beverage shops operated by small families. Each of them has their individual counter and most of the shop keepers are senior ladies. The scene is very unique to me! I was thrilled to be there!
        
We came to her shop on all three days. Simply her food is good and we want to try'em all. The baked carrot meat balls were so delicious! At this market you can find so many different style of food you won't see in the Western Europe. We're intrigued.

I had a cheese dough. There were also strawberry, peanuts, potatoes, etc. I was amazed.

I tried their confections, so yummy and sweet!!! I was dripping!!! And they are so cheap too!!!

Tried the meat jello. My tummy wasn't happy about it...  (1 LVL = 1.8 USD)

Riga is famous for its fish dish. Cod and salmons.

Of the pastries, the white chocolate dough with a smiley face is my lucky charms. ;-) Hehe.
      The Black Magic Bar, famous for its Riga Black Balsam, a traditional Latvian herbal liqueur made with pure vodka and 25 different natural ingredients. It is 45% abv and tastes very bitter. Had it as my Riga souvenir.
      Alus Seta,
 a restaurant for authentic Latvian cuisine. It is a buffet by weight. Quite a bargain!
 
       
     
Front of the Alus Seta, at the center of the old town.

The traditional Latvian ornaments.

Lady in her traditional Latvian attire.

My dish of chicken kebab, baked carrot-cod, dried fish and salad cost only 5 LVL ~ USD10.

The Latvian souvenir set -
 the Black Balsam and Laima Chocolates.

Another Latvian restaurant, right at the square of House of Blackheads.
     
After a day of walking, it was such enjoyable resting at the St. Peter's Cathedral and drowning in the music played by this young boy and classmates. I found serenity.
 
Strike a pose! Vogue! I wouldn't mind starting a conversation with him as I talk to anyone. But on a flash I turned for my friend, he was gone. 

Riga is famous for House of Blackhead, House of Black Cat, Black Balsam; perhaps this woman in black coat and black umbrella walking down a dark alley is amongst signatures of Riga as well.
 

Oh, a boy posing as a muffin for me! I feel bad not to capture you! Well, behind is the newer side of the Daugava River. More newer development coming up.

Much of the old town is restored and reconstructed, so is this St. Peter's Cathedral. Part of the cathedral is a museum of the ruins.

Where am I ??  I am more lost after this.

Ricky caught me. What was I doing...
        
Bobsled is kind of famous in Riga. See those Olympians are happy at Vancouver 2010!

Laima, in Latvian myth, was the personification of fate and luck. So, I'm destined to find love after this ??
         

Lovers, lock your hearts at this City Canal.

This plate on the ground of St. Peter's Cathedral marks the central coordinate of Riga.

 

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