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Monday, 31 August 2015

Returning to Riga, Latvia

Written by Frederika Rachette
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Riga is home of most of the Latvian population, but keeping in mind that's not even two million people it's not really as drastic as you might think. Therein lies the first charm of Riga. It is physically not possible to be stuck in a crowd, and the only way to satisfy your longing for one is to take the rush hour public transport.


My only reason for the trip was for the architecture, summer and some cool drinks so there was no real plan as to my exact movements. 


The main fascination with Riga is that there is not a single street that you can walk through without your head held high. The place that houses the highest collection of Art Deco style buildings has found a way to mix it with in a strange harmony styles that are developing now. The old wooden style homes that seem to be held together by the shear willpower of the inhabitants, next to the beauty of Art Deco followed by the Stalin time splendor to the the Khrushchev implemented simplicity. This is what has always fascinated me, half of block walked and already three historic periods mirrored in architecture. 


What is even more fascinating is the use of the houses. Filled with shops, some that have been deemed not worthy and now stay closed and abandoned, with a small reminiscence of the last call for 'clear out sale'. Some harboring the old and tested 'one shop for all', the place where everything from bread to alcohol and new socks is presented and can be acquired only by the method of hoping the woman who works there will deem you more worthy than her cigarette break. But most of them still go for the tested and loved method catering for food, clothes, galleries and the 'late night alcohol supplies'. 


Like most of the European block, Latvia could still be considered a young country, gaining independence only in 1991. And as I was once told you have to look at the country as at a child, give it time and let it evolve and find itself as it grows. 


And as I zigzagged through the cobblestone streets of the old town, getting lost and discovering new corners -- I cant help but marvel how things have changed, but at the same time stayed perfectly the same. Recalling places that once were considered 'in' which have now disappeared and been forgotten. 


Truth is that no matter how often I have been there the amazing detail of the buildings, the fashion and history behind them has always managed to leave me a little breathless. 


After grabbing coffee to go I decided to take a look at the new library. A building so controversial that it seemed impossible to find someone who didn’t have a opinion about it. The glass building named 'Glass Castle' was introduced as a perfect show of the modern and new by the government and its size approved with 'at least the homeless will have some place to sleep now' by the people. But the main humor point has always been the adding of solar panels, for a country that sees summer for three months a year - the addition has been viewed as a waste.


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Last modified on Tuesday, 01 September 2015

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