Feed on

We arrived in Riga to cloudy skies, light rain, and blustery winds.

After breakfast in the (again) overcrowded Windjammer, we departed to explore this Baltic capital on the banks of the Daugava River. Yesterday, Libby said that Copenhagen reminded her of Vienna; if so, Riga is more like Prague or Budapest—comparing with them very favorably. Following decades of occupation, Riga’s made great strides in the past twenty years and is a wonderful place to visit.

Vision of the Seas docked very close to the historic city center. After a short walk along the river, we entered the cobbled streets of the largely pedestrian city center. We strolled about the warren-like streets and managed to take in the major sights without really trying: Blackhead’s House, Museum of Occupation in Latvia, the town hall, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, St. George’s church, the Dome Cathedral, etc.

Old Riga -- Blackhead's House and St. Peter's Church

Old Riga -- Blackhead's House and St. Peter's Church

Having explored Old Riga, we walked to Central Riga crossing the City Canal and passing by Freedom Monument, as well as a splendid Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Our destination was the heart of the Art Nouveau district from which we planned to follow the Lonely Planet’s self-guided “Art Nouveau in Riga” walking tour. While I suspect only a minority of our cruising compatriots made the trek, it is well worth the added effort to leave Old Riga. In fact, Riga has more Art Nouveau (or “Jugendstil”—youth style—in German) architecture (over 750 buildings) than any other city in the world. And, it’s simply splendid!

Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) District in Riga, Latvia

Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) District in Riga, Latvia

After exploring the Art Nouveau district, we returned to the Old City via Esplanade Park, once again crossing the City Canal, and passing by numerous embassies, and the Latvia National Opera. By this time, the weather had turned very pleasant – blue sky, sunshine, and a comfortable temperature. We allowed Emerson to play in the parks and retook some photographs that had been (literally) washed out in the morning.

We returned to the ship for a late, light lunch and put Emerson down for her nap.

We ate our evening meal in the main dining room again. Libby had a spinach dip (good) starter and potato gnocchi (good, but rich) for her main course. I had French onion soup (very credible; nice broth) and NY strip steak (meh… not worth the calories). I finished with key lime pie (again, very credible and I think a good choice for cruise cuisine), and Libby had some sort of chocolate-cake-brownie-thing (which she seemed to enjoy). Meanwhile Emerson ate… you want to guess? Right! Guacamole! In fact, she had a second order tonight along with her chicken and potatoes entrée. Honestly, our ability to have a relatively peaceful, one and a half hour meal—despite horrifically slow service—with a 17-month old has made us very, very happy. Our waiter is apologetic and keeps mumbling something about the chef/kitchen being overwhelmed by the number of kids on this sailing. Thankfully, our section’s head waiter remains very helpful and always tries to engage Emerson—she’ll get (and have well earned) a generous extra tip from us.

Tonight, I also went to see the first (and perhaps last) performance by the ship’s vocal and dance ensemble. As tonight is 70’s theme night, they did a performance called “Boogie Wonderland.” It was a fairly typical ‘cruise ship’ performance with a lot of numbers that I didn’t know and uninspiring renditions of the songs that I did. In particular, I thought that the ABBA medley should have brought the house down on this cruise. But, not so much. Having seen the ABBA-based musical once in Toronto and twice in London’s West End (why—as a non-ABBA fan—is an even longer story to tell), I can assure you that these performers aren’t destined for roles in Momma Mia!

Tomorrow is our second and final day at sea before our two remaining ports of call and arrival in Stockholm.

Today’s box score: +1 country (Latvia)

Leave a Reply