Tag Archives: Skyline Bar

Riga, a Baltic Winter

Latvia Riga

After the first visit to Riga I made myself a promise to go back to Riga one day but I didn’t expect it to be quite so soon.  Returning to a place for a second time is something I have vowed not to do if I can possibly avoid it mainly because there are forty-five countries in Europe and I have only so far been to thirty-0ne.  But with cheap flights helping me to shorten the list of places left to visit I decided that it would do no harm to take another look at Latvia.

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Jurmala, Latvia

We had a short drive to the beach resort of Jurmala and when we arrived we had another tour reorganisation discussion that convinced me to finally dispose of my useless personal itinerary.  This was really beginning to irritate people so I was pleased when it was all sorted out to everyone’s satisfaction and we were allowed to get off the coach and head for the beach.

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Latvian Ethnic Open Air Museum

The next morning we were delighted to be woken early by shafts of razor sharp sunlight piercing the paper-thin bedroom curtains and blazing radiantly into the room.  I really don’t object to being woken like this.

We had another full day planned but for some the pace was beginning to tell.  Mark had decided in advance to skip the morning session to recover from his late night out and May choose to stay in the city for some solo retail therapy.  This was absence through choice; Nick on the other hand had planned to be there but he had rejected my sensible advice and had given himself a monster hangover and was quite unable to leave his hotel room because of his ferocious headache and constant vomiting.

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Latvia dining – a chronic case of indecision

At the end of this stage of the visit we enjoyed Latvian canapés at a delightful restaurant just out of town and we accompanied this with a chaotic debate about what to do tomorrow.  Alona was desperate to please everyone so worked hard to achieve a consensus that proved hopelessly optimistic.  This took some considerable time and once completed required the tour guide to handwrite for everyone an individual and personal itinerary for the next day.  This was a nice touch but was probably going to be a complete wasted effort knowing how chronically afflicted we all were with changeable minds.

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Riga, The Russian Orthodox Cathedral

Riga Orthodox Church

Next on the itinerary was the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, which has been recently restored in an ugly duckling style transformation from a dirty grimy grey (which was of course the shade of paint that the communists used to paint everything) to a resplendent sandstone yellow under black domes with gleaming crosses.  The renovated building is clean and sharp with painted red brick stripes and elaborate white columns soaring proudly into the sky above.

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Riga – The Skyline Bar

Skyline Bar

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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