Tuesday, 15 July 2008

riga

where we met a lovely taxi driver who took us right up to where we were staying. we got out, walked down the street and i said - look there's the hostel. and t said - yes it is. is that a stripclub? and yes it was.

otherwise riga was fabulous. sex trade aside the people were great, the old town picturesque without being overly touristy. we visited the old soviet academy of sciences but even the foyer was too intimidating for us to venture further! even in the short time we were there riga's recent history leeched out from the obvious in the former of the bunker that now houses the occupation museum to the not so such as the nice building we stopped in front of that turned out to be a former kgb interrogation centre.

the eastern-ness(?) we found most prevalent was in the exhibition of soviet era paintings, all agricultural and metal workers and happy soldiery. what was all that about? how did people respond? what did the (older) women looking after the exhibition think of us from the west as they saw us looking at their past? it was fascinating.

then by brilliant coincidence it turned out the song festival was on celebrating the end of occupation. people from all over the baltic states (even a bunch from romania) had gathered together, all dressed in their local costume, to march thru the city, past the freedom monument to a mass singalong at the song ground. it was supposed to take two hours - it lasted at least five. mean while in one of the city parks they were having a song marathon where everyone got a twenty minute spot to do their thing, from traditional folk songs to polka. it was fantastic. not a drunk in sight. scottish nationalists should take note in terms of the expression of national cultural expression. i;ve never seen anything like it. it was fantastic.

time went past too quickly and we had to leave. our last sound at the hostel - some english lads bailing out shouting - oi mate where the fuck have you been? we've got a plane to catch. lovely.
and off to the bus station to catch the bus, getting leaked on, get bitten by fleas and curse the leaking chemical toilet. such was our introduction to estonia.

4 comments:

mmoneypennyinternational said...

welcome back lovely swiss. I have just been in here copying and pasting that rilke poem to mmoneypenny international.

mmoneypennyinternational said...

... you know... 'the first elegy'

swiss said...

glad you liked it. have you finalised your own travel plans yet?

mmoneypennyinternational said...

yes. aug 21 - sept 10!