Thursday, 15 December 2016

A little visit to Riga ...

Hi everyone,

Thank you for stopping by, I love travelling & a few weeks ago, my Godson's Mum, Ellie found a 4 day short break to Riga.  When she phoned asking if I would like to explore the Christmas markets in Riga, I immediately said 'YES' and then had to look up the exact location on a map. I was quite surprised to see how far north it was & closer to Moscow than London. However, we booked & planned for our 4 day girlie break to the Baltic state of Latvia.

One of the concerns was the colder temperatures so we took advice & bought thermal layers & a longer, waterproof coat.  Our luggage allowance was a mere 10kg which did not deter me because I have become accustomed to travelling light.

The morning of our trip meant a very early start from Manchester , we were excited at the prospect of exploring a new place. We did some flight tracking ... look at all the early morning air traffic.


Leaving a very wet England ...


A window seat is always a joy for me because I love air travel ...


Excitement at the first glimpse of a typical scene appearing in the clouds ... 


A smooth landing, carry on luggage only so we were quick to exit & find a taxi.


The travel deal had been for a hotel out of the city centre.  I have travelled a lot & stayed in everything from truckers hotels in Ethiopia to home stays in India & safari camps in Africa so I embraced the booking of something less touristy  ...

The hotel was situated in the Russian District of Riga & I thought - wow - a cauldron of cultures.  In between my hectic end of term student commitments, I had managed to look up some Latvian history

Latvia has, like neighbouring Estonia and Lithuania, been an important trading centre and strategic pawn in the Baltic region. The various Latvian tribes were self-governing until the end of the 13th century when Teutonic knights conquered the territory. Latvia was then subject to sporadic invasions by the Poles and the Swedes until the 18th century when Russia, under Peter the Great, emerged as a major European power.
The entire territory of modern Latvia was under Russian control from 1795 until 1918, when the Latvian National Council proclaimed it a free state. That freedom didn’t last long though and in 1940 the country was invaded by the Soviets. Nazi forces displaced them the following year before the Red Army invaded once again in 1944 when Latvia was incorporated into the Soviet Union.
Protests against Soviet control and campaigning for democracy and independence began in 1986 and gathered pace with the formation of the Popular Front of Latvia in 1988. The Latvian parliament declared independence on 4 May 1990, a day still marked as a national holiday. Full independence was finally achieved following a referendum in 1991, with Latvia being admitted into the UN in September 1991.
Latvia joined NATO in 1994 and was admitted into the EU – along with nine other states, including Estonia and Lithuania – later the same year. The Lat, Latvia’s currency since 1993, was then replaced by the Euro in January 2014.
The suppression of the Latvian language and culture during the Soviet era has left a legacy of hostility – in some areas the ethnic Russian minority are subject to discrimination and although there has been no serious conflict between the communities, it remains a delicate issue.
The capital, Riga, was founded as a trading post in 1201 and has preserved many aspects of its long history, with architectural styles spanning eight centuries and a historic old town that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Riga was named European Capital of Culture in 2014, along with Umea in Sweden.

This interesting history is reflected in the Latvian life.

We put down our luggage at the hotel, layered up & headed out to explore. The receptionist gave us instructions for the tram that stopped opposite & we set off to familiarise ourself with the new place.

The photos do not prepare you for such a stunning place. The 5 large Zeppelin hangers at the tram stop contain the most amazing markets ...

It took Ellie & I a bit of time to work out how to use the underpasses under the huge intersections with the wide streets & tram lines ...




Underpasses with several exit choices make for interesting times ....





Very wide streets & traffic on the opposite side of the road ...


We had come to Riga for Christmas markets & festive scenes - all that was missing was the snow which the rain had washed away on the days before we arrived .. 



Pretty Xmas lights along the streets & in the parks ...



A cute hedgehog shop window scene ...



The amazingly huge but beautifully decorated tree in the Square by Blackheads house ...









Massive trees, beautifully decorated ...



What really impressed me in Riga was the cleanliness - no litter, no people being rowdy & drunk in the streets, people who are reserved & polite, a sense of order & pride very evident.

I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse, pop back for some more photos ....
Dee ~♥~

No comments:

Post a Comment

♥ Thank you for visiting my blog & taking the time to leave a comment♥.