Day two at Sylvia’s started off much better with a good night’s sleep. We both slept well and were up and ready to go earlier. Sylvia was worried about Charlotte, afraid she might be sick, so she thought it was best if we ventured on our own for the day. Riga is a small city, so it would be fine. But Sylvia still ended up walking us to the Old Town through a couple of beautiful parks. It was really nice – not sunny, but not cold and just felt nice to be out walking on nice paths with tons of greenery around.
After getting us to the Old town and showing us a good place for lunch and the tourist office, Sylvia was off to her house for some much needed rest awaiting the doctor’s appointment. Granny and I just pottered around on the tourist walk, seeing the Blackheads building, a cathedral and little squares and tons of cobblestone roads. Our friend from the tour, Amit messaged saying he was nearby, so I dropped Granny off at the lunch spot and headed to the top of the cathedral with Amit and his friends of Latvian decent. It was just a short visit, but was good to see him again and to chat with his friends.
We got some good arial shots of Riga and then they headed off to the bus station and I went back to the lunch spot. Granny was full and happy after another traditional Latvian lunch. I had a few things, but the veg options were limited, so I couldn’t go all out. I think I spent 1 dollar! hah.
We then continued on our tourist path, stopping at shops along the way chatting with shop keepers. So far the people here seem much nicer and more open than in Russia. And there seems to be a decent level of English spoken which really helps things progress. We saw the very cool Kaku Haus (Cat House) which I just loved and then on route, we saw an adorable kitten. They really seem to love their cats here and in Russia – what a change to India!
We enjoyed our little stroll down the cobble stone pathways taking photos and just enjoying the smallness of this cute little town.
To end our tour we paid a visit to the Occupation Museum. It was really interesting to see how Latvia was passed back and forth during WWII (russians first invaded, then germany, then the western powers basically handed Latvia back to Russia at the end). It was pretty deep, but really gave us a better sense of what the people had suffered and helped us understand how there are still a lot of tensions between Latvians and Russian-Latvians. Latvia is part of the EU and will soon be getting the Euro as well. This seems to make the people there very happy, but I am not sure that Russia really likes Latvia’s closeness with the West. I just hope that whatever happens in the future that Latvia is able to stay unoccuppied and free.
After that deep and moving museum, we needed to lighten our minds..what better way than shopping! One of the shopkeepers had told us where to buy silver rings, so we headed there and loaded up on stuff. Then we went to Swarvoski to get a fancy ring for Granny’s birthday present. I hope it fits once she is back in the US – it’s hard to tell when/if your fingers are swollen!
We were running a bit late, but managed to walk to our dinner spot to meet up with Sylvia, Charlotte and Tom. Had a nice Italian meal…that they of course wouldn’t let us pay for, even though we felt we owed them for their wonderful hospitality.
Another early night.. but thats ok. we needed the down time, since we had many late nights and long days in Russia!!
Today was just for packing, saying goodbyes and boarding our flight for Berlin. I was so sad to say goodbye to Sylvia and Charlotte. When she left India I knew I’d probably see her this summer, so I didn’t feel so sad. But now I don’t know when we will meet again. But I guess we always have facebook 🙂 And I am so glad that we did have a stop over in Riga. It really was a wonderful way to end our trip. It also gave us a good perspective on the Baltic post communism.
At the airport we ran our little errands (tax free stuff) and then found ourselves with 40 dollars still and the exchange office closed! So what to do…but shop! Hah. I got some Kenzo bath gel that I love and some other little trinkets before heading out of Latvia with only a few coins to my name.