September 3, 2018
I flew into Riga several days in advance of the painting symposium so that I could explore the city, walk the same streets as my ancestors, and find inspiration for the work I would create in Daugavpils.
As the airplane began its descent toward Riga, I noticed the vast open countryside. There was so much green with just a few groupings of houses here and there. The weather was sunny and warm.
The bus from the airport took me to Old Town Riga, also known as Vecriga. I hobbled awkardly over cobblestone streets with my heavy suitcase to the hostel where I had reserved a private room. I am amazed that the wheels are still attached to my luggage!
That evening I was exhausted from my travels, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see Latvian improv, which by coincidence was happening that night. Also, this outing gave me the opportunity to see the beautiful Freedom Monument aglow in the light of the setting sun.
As it turned out, the improv was very similar to American improv, taking place in a coffee-shop style setting. Luckily for me, this set was performed in English. Most of the young people I encountered in Riga knew English.
On my walk back, I came across a hospital which I at first mistook for a church. Wow!
Above: The Riga 1st Hospital
A visit to the Latvian National Museum of Art
The next day I visited the National Museum of Art and learned about Latvian artists past and present. I had intended to stay just a couple of hours, but my visit ended up taking all day because it was so interesting! I quickly came to understand that Latvian culture greatly values the arts and music. Below are some of the pieces I saw, spanning the years of 1837-2013:
That evening I strolled the streets of Old Town:
Pausing at a corner restaurant to sample a very popular drink in Latvia: beer
Here I am at Doma Laukums (Dome Square)
Amber is a fossilized tree resin that washes up on the Baltic beaches of Latvia and is polished to make jewelry. Apparently it takes millions of years to form!
Do you see the Latvian star pattern on the blocks of the sidewalk?
Dinner of grilled salmon atop fries and spinach with tarragon sauce; all of the restaurants provide blankets for the guests in case of a chilly night.