Alien in Riga, Latvia

I have just spent my first 24 hours in Riga where I will be for the next four days and yes, there is even a chance that I shall tear myself away from the sidewalk cafes and do some blogging. As I was expecting, I was the only brother on the streets with the exception of a statue of Saint Mauritius (or Maurice), a Roman-Egyptian martyr, who was the patron saint of unmarried merchants from the Hanseatic League. Their feasts were supposed to be so wild that they attracted Catherine the Great who was really no slouch in the debauchery department. Then there is this whole Latvian versus Russian thing going on; I am really curious about the existence of a strong sense of Latvian identity after more than 700 years of uninterrupted foreign occupation. But such wonders are mild compared to the footwear situation. The number of stiletto heels worn is unprecedented outside St. Petersburg. Every second woman I saw was perched on these fiendish (and very sexy) devices, miraculously navigating cobblestone streets without fracturing an ankle. Their male counterparts seemed to favour an assortment of muscle shirts and a cool ‘I am not looking at you’ vibe while they hurried after female companions who towered over them in those heels. From an afternoon of wining and dining, I can confirm that there are plenty of cheap restaurants serving good food, the sun is out and the city is more beautiful than I could have imagined. Methinks the next few days will only get better.

House of Blackheads. The figure on the right (kind of hard to see) is Saint Mauritius. I will post clearer pictures soon.

An example of Riga’s art nouveau architecture

The Stalin Pyramid, a not so little reminder of the Soviet era

About bulletsandhoney
I read my first book when I was three, then my second one a few weeks later. It has carried on this way for decades with only temporary distractions of eating, fighting, loving, heartbreak and other such irrelevant biographical details.

3 Responses to Alien in Riga, Latvia

  1. Keith says:

    I was just there last week. Check out Rozengral’s restaurant on the corner of Kramu and Rozena streets in the old city, in a 13th century wine cellar.

  2. wow. what a journey! love the shoe story. and, pray tell, uncle, why are you so dark. keep writing!

  3. Great post on your visit to Latvia. Actually you are not so alien to the people of the Baltic countries or any of the old Hanseatic League cities. After all, these people were great seafarers and had contact with Africans and other dark-skinned peoples for centuries.

    I was in Riga a few years after the breakup of the Soviet Empire and Russian domination. It’s a beautiful city with great architecture and very nice people. Came in by sea on a very impressive ship with Russian drivers and crew. Only way to really travel around the Baltic, nice and slow.

    The kids were curious of course as you have pointed out about my dark skin color, but the adults were even more curious about who was this black American guy coming into town on a big white boat surrounded by Russian, Ukrainian, and German “escorts”. They haven’t seen anything like it since I’m sure.

    I was very happy to be able to visit the people of that tiny but proud country enjoying their newfound freedom. Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia will become economic giants in Europe someday soon because they have the right stuff to do it: the character and determination of their people.

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