Saturday, July 8, 2023

Riga, Latvia

Hello from Riga! 
Riga, Latvia from cruise ship balcony
View from my balcony
bridge in Riga, Latvia
Early morning almost-docked view
Wanting to do something other than the Hop On, Hop Off bus, I found Riga has a central market full of just about anything anyone would need. Fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and meats and dairy. Restaurants and bars. Five large bustling buildings - former Zeppelin hangars - full of Latvians selling local products. Their website says 80,000-100,000 people visit a day. And I wanted to go there.

It looked like the path might be manageable for the scooter, but wasn't sure if we could get there, go through all the buildings, and get back on the battery charges. So when I spied the HOHO bus right off my balcony and found out the bus stops at the market, I decided to take the easy way out.
hop on hop off bus near cruise ship in Riga, Latvia
Seems like it's always the HOHO bus rescuing me
Better than a crowded ship tour!
The market was the first HOHO stop but I wanted to get my money's worth and do the entire loop before heading to the market. I figured I'd stop at the market on the second loop and then just scooter my way back to the ship when I was done. Except as we got near the first stop we ran into this between the market and the ship.
Big time construction
As we sat at the red light I watched pedestrians trying to navigate the crosswalks and crosswalk detours and crosswalk detours that became piles of gravel. There was no way I'd be getting back to the ship from this direction. As we passed the market I looked for an alternative way to get back to the ship or back to the bus. More detours. And closed gates. And limited crossings over the cobblestones. And crowded sidewalks. Oh, the crowded sidewalks. Can you imagine me navigating this on a scooter?
Did you know there is another word for pickpockets here?
The market's website warns tourists about cutpurses.
It was in that moment I realized my plans were changing for the day. Thanks to a couple Covid coughers on the bus I wound up on the top level, taking pictures along the rest of the route.
As usual, the architecture was interesting.
architecture in Riga, Latvia
bridge in Riga Latviaold buildings in Riga, Latvia
old building in Riga, Latvia
The National Library in Riga, Latvia
The National Library
The National Library in Riga, Latvia
The library up close
Orthodox Cathedral in Riga, Latvia
Orthodox Cathedral
There were several green spaces within the city. Many times little shops and stores could be found at the entrances to the parks.
Of course I had to get my street signs but there weren't any. Seriously, how does anyone know where to go? I found just one sign - and it made no sense to me.
I got desperate and took a picture of a sign from the Circle K where the bus turned around and a sign inside the bus itself. 
Maybe they don't use signs because people are spraying their own signs? Graffiti was all over the place and it was obvious there isn't even an effort to try and clean any of it up. And run down buildings with people living in them? There was a lot of that, too.
graffiti on buildings in Riga, Latviagraffiti on buildings in Riga, Latvia
This picture sums it all up. A nice little place to eat with cute flowers and clean tables. Right there with busted up concrete and a graffiti covered wall.
graffiti on buildings in Riga, Latvia
The HOHO narration in Estonia the other day made it clear they were proud to be independent from the Soviet Union and proud of what they've accomplished since then. But it's not the impression I got from today's narration in Latvia. When it was mentioned 40 some percent of Riga is Latvian and 40 some percent are Russian, it made sense. After those 40%s? Belarusians and then Ukrainians. Combine those ethnicities with lower incomes and current events no wonder things seem rougher here than in Estonia.

Tomorrow we're in Klaipeda, Lithuania, another country who gained their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. I'm looking forward to seeing how it'll compare to Estonia and Latvia. See you then!