Wednesday, May 27, 2015

In Riga

We were far more impressed with Riga today. The partly cloudy weather helped. We took a two mile stroll in the the Old Riga passing by the funky national library and over the Daugava River.

I caught the Occupation Museum, which did mention the Holocaust but naturally downplayed Latvian collaborators and focused on Latvian victimization. We saw the Freedom Monument with two motionless guards standing underneath. We also appreciated the Batejkalns with its love lock bridge.

Next we ate a kebab place. Candace hated her falefel and hummus sandwhich. The chicken in my sandwhich was good, but I didn't like the rest of it, especially the copious amounts of cabbage. We ate at a steak house by the Riga Dome.

Candace and I vehemently disagree over the comparative accessibility of Tallinn and Riga. I think Riga is more accessible. It has some nice curbcuts and even some ramps. The rain gutter divots aren't as bad. Tallinn's accessibility is based on making things easier for bicycles.

After dinner, I saw parliament, an imposing building with drab colors. Not far away was a heavily fortified building with a camera in front the moves to watch passersby. I haven't found out what the building is yet. We also saw Riga Castle where the president lives. It was built in 1515. A fire in 2013 caused considerable damage.

Since being in Latvia I read about the eastern region of Latgalia. About 100,000 prople speak the language. In Latvia, Latgalia is officially considered a dialect of Latvia. Some people in Latgalia want more recognition for their language. But some feel Russia is hoping to foster separatist feelings within the region to create the same chaos as in Ukraine. People in Latgalia tend to sympathize with Russia more than the country on the whole.

There is a large minority of Russians in Riga and in Latvia. Cansace has tried to watch tv since we've been in Riga. She's mostly watched E and the music channel, because they're pretty much the only English channels. The are quite a few Russian ones though. We also saw the music video for the Latvian group Musiqq's song Abrakadabra and a cool Russia video centered on events in an elevator that I can't find the name of.

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