Blogging on a cruise is more difficult that any other trip for two reasons - you often can't get service to post and cruises are just too much fun and there is no time to post. So expect delays!
We did not arrive in Riga until noon and started our tour right away. So much to pack in and so little time. We were really taken aback by the beauty of this city of 700,000 people. No wonder it is called "the Pearl of the Baltic." We have a friend who was the ambassador to Latvia 10 years ago and we now realize she had a plum assignment.
Riga was founded more than 800 years ago and now is the biggest city in the Baltic States. It shares a similar history with them - ruled by the Swedes, then Russia in 1710 with Peter the Great's victory in the Great Northern War. Then independence after WW I, then German occupation. The Russians ran out the Germans and forgot to leave. Latvia became independent in 1991 and has since thrived.
Although we were docked right in the city, we boarded a bus to get a bigger picture. We drove passed some of the old wooden houses that the town is known for and have survived amid floods, fires and modern high rises. People love these old houses and many have been turned into restaurants.
We saw hangers built during the German occupation. This area is now home to a huge outdoor market that I would have loved to have visited. Then Stalin era buildings known as Stalin's wedding cakes because of their layers and ornamentation.
But once we deboarded the bus and started walking, we couldn't believe the landscape. There were parks everywhere especially along a canal that forms a semi-circle around part of the city. There were people in small boats enjoying the water. The other side of the city is bordered by the Daugava River and the two connect.
We saw the beautiful 1863 Opera House and learned the city is famous for its arts, especially ballet. German composer Richard Wagner invented and introduced the orchestra pit here. The "Nymph Fountain" is in front.
We hobbled over cobblestone streets and everywhere we turned we came upon interesting medieval structures next to art nouveau buildings framing beautiful squares with outdoor cafes.
Above is Meistaru Square with houses to the right built between the 13th and 18th centuries along the city wall.
The city is famous for its old churches, too numerous to mention, and their steeples. Two are noteworthy - St. Peter's
In the Old Town we saw a very inviting square
Another beautiful square featured the very ornate Blackheads Building from 1334 (on right). It was a special brotherhood or meeting place for unmarried merchants.
Then Ed went back to the bus and I stayed and walked around. I found a specialty shop where I bought some Latvian striped wool fabric lovely young ladies selling their handmade crafts.
On the way walking back to the boat, caught this photo of the 14th century Riga Castle which is the official office and residence of the President of Latvia
Since this was an afternoon visit, the boat left soon after I returned. Ed and I had dinner in the Compass Room and then took in the show, which was a great song and dance production "On Broadway." Since we get to sleep in again tomorrow, we went to a lounge where we heard a delightful 4-piece combo.