Tag Archives: Skyline Bar

On This Day – Jurmala in Latvia

In January 2007 we made our third visit to the Latvian capital of Riga and on 28th January we took a ride to the nearby seaside resort of Jurmala…

We walked along the frozen shore and enjoyed every minute of kicking through snow and picking our way along tracks made of ice. None of us had seen a beach frozen solid before and none of us had walked on water before either.

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Festival Days – 8th March, International Women’s Day

On a visit to Riga and the Hotel Latvia in March in addition to enjoying the Skyline cocktail bar we decided to eat there as well.

The food was excellent and there was a reasonably priced self-service buffet but what was especially good about his meal was that it happened to coincide with‘International Woman’s Day’ and there were free cocktails for all of us and flowers for the girls.

To be honest I had never heard of ‘International Woman’s Day’ before, it certainly isn’t that big in the United Kingdom, and to be honest I have to say that I thought it was a bit odd to have it on a Saturday, which is a day really reserved for sport, but it turns out that this was just an unhappy coincidence because IWD is held every year on March 8th and is a day of day of global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women around the world.

It all started in New York when in 1908 fifteen thousand women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.

Morocco Volubilis Photography

Then, in 1917, with two million soldiers dead in the war, Russian women chose the last Sunday in February to strike for ‘bread and peace’. This turned out to be hugely significant and a contribution to the overthrow of the Romanovs and four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.

That historic Sunday fell on 23rd February on the Julian calendar, then in use in Russia, but on 8th March on the Gregorian calendar that was in use elsewhere.

It has since become very important in Eastern Europe after a 1965 decree of the USSR Presidium that International Women’s Day was declared as a non working day in the USSR “in commemoration of outstanding merits of the Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defence of their Motherland during the Great Patriotic War, their heroism and selflessness at the front and in rear, and also marking the big contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples and struggle for the peace.”

International Women's day

Another interesting thing is that although Latvia doesn’t care to remember or celebrate much about the Russian occupation they seem happy enough to continue with this day off from work arrangement.

In these days of equality it is important to be fair of course and I am pleased to say that ‘International Men’s Day’ is an international holiday, celebrated on the first Saturday of November.  It was first suggested by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1999 and was supported fully by the United Nations.

Prisoner Dwarf Wroclaw Poland

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts

Cocktail Fancies - Shadow and Light

Cocktail Fancies – Light and Shadow

There are many suggestions for the origin of the word cocktail, almost as many as the choice of drinks available at the Skyline Bar in Riga.

Some say that it was customary to put a feather, presumably from a cock’s tail, in the drink to serve both as decoration and to signal to teetotalers that the drink contained alcohol but my favourite is that after a cock fight it was customary to mix a drink with a different shot of alcohol for each remaining feather in the winning bird’s tail.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie

Skyline Bar

The Skyline Bar, Hotel Latvia, Riga

The Hotel Latvia is a modern high quality tourist hotel but has a sinister and secretive past.  It was built by the previous communist regime and was one of the few State approved tourist hotels run by the Russian travel Agency, Intourist.

Intourist was founded in 1929 by the dictator Joseph Stalin and was staffed almost exclusively by the KGB secret police. It was responsible for managing the great majority of travellers access to, and travel within, the Soviet Union and it grew into one of the largest tourism organisations in the world, with a network embracing banks, hotels, and bureaux de change.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

Skyline Bar

The Skyline Bar, Hotel Latvia, Riga

The Hotel Latvia is a modern high quality tourist hotel but has a sinister and secretive past.  It was built by the previous communist regime and was one of the few State approved tourist hotels run by the Russian travel Agency, Intourist.  Intourist was founded in 1929 by the dictator Joseph Stalin and was staffed almost exclusively by the KGB secret police. It was responsible for managing the great majority of travellers access to, and travel within, the Soviet Union and it grew into one of the largest tourism organisations in the world, with a network embracing banks, hotels, and bureaux de change.

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Riga, Grey Skies and a Quick Thaw

Riga Snow Clearing

When I woke I could hear the sound of the old lady snow clearer scratching away at the pavement below and I thought this sounded promising so I rushed to the lobby where I knew Micky would be waiting following his early morning walk.

He assured me that there had been some snow but unfortunately it had recently turned to rain and this had washed away the two or three inches that had fallen earlier that morning.  Was he teasing? I couldn’t tell but a step outside confirmed that the old lady was simply scraping away the dirty brown slush that remained in the taxi rank.  I certainly would not have predicted this but the temperature had continued to rise and the snow that only two days ago looked a permanent feature had almost completely gone.

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Riga, A Brilliant Taxi Idea

Art Nouveau Riga

That evening as we walked back into the city for dinner it was obvious to us that the temperature was beginning to rise rather more quickly than we liked and the firm snow that had been a joy to walk on earlier was turning to a rather unpleasant watery slush.  Whilst crossing a road Kim did a doctor Foster and spectacularly stepped into a puddle, not quite up to her middle but certainly up to her ankles.  We all assumed that carried away by the beach experience earlier she really did think that she could walk on water.

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Riga, Frozen Beach and a Health Spa

Riga Jurmala Frozen Beach

After breakfast we took a mini-bus taxi to the seaside town of Jurmala, which was another bargain at only 15 Lats.  It was a sunny morning and we walked through some houses in various states of disrepair and renovation towards the beach.  The houses were fascinating, mostly made of timber and in contrasting styles that suggested that the owners had had fun building them in a competitive way each determined to eclipse the efforts of their neighbours.

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Riga, A Russian Taxi Driver’s Perspective

Riga Freedom Monument

For evening meal we choose the out-of-town Lido amusement park where we had been before on our previous visit.  Kim was certain that it was a very precise eight-minute walk but we were all pleased that we overruled her and took the twenty-minute taxi ride instead.

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Riga, A Pedestrian’s Guide

Riga Latvia Freedom Monument

Replenished with hot food we resumed our walk through the city and made for the old Jewish Quarter called Little Russia, which took us through the market on the way.  This area of the city was interesting for consisting of buildings constructed of timber that are fighting a losing rearguard action against decay and neglect and caught in a catch twenty-two situation, too expensive to repair and restore and too culturally important to be demolished.  If something isn’t done soon it is almost certain that Mother Nature will have the final word on the matter.

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