by
on November 17, 2014 on 11/17/14 from ,

Coming Up for Air, Part 1

First, my apologies for the “radio silence” of late.  The last few weeks have been filled with travel, projects, and finals.  Instead of trying to write it all at once, I’ll split things up into 3 posts. This installment is about recent travel. 

Members of the Red House Crew, (my housemates and I), sailed from Stockholm to Riga and back, for a look at what has been called the “cultural capital of Europe”.  Riga is the capital of Latvia and is a city full of architectural, political, religious, and cultural influences.  This is in no small part due to the long and varied history of occupation by foreigners. There is actually a Museum of Latvian Occupation, but the reminders of other cultures can be seen all over the city.  From the Knights of the Templar who supposedly founded the city, through the end of the Soviet Union, this city offers a glimpse into the past along with the hustle and bustle of its present.

One of the locals explained that the city’s population is about 50% Russian, but that the surrounding and outlying areas were primarily ethnic Latvians.  Along with colorful art deco buildings in one sector, various churches, a synogogue and a mosque, beautiful parks and monuments, there was also the reported former KGB headquarters.  (There is a sign on the building that actually says “Former KGB Headquarters”) Cable cars still run on the streets and a large magazine, (outdoor market), borders what was for me the most interesting, and moving area – the Riga Ghetto and Holocaust Museum.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go into the museum as we arrived on Saturday, and it was closed.  It was however surreal, and saddening and infuriating, to see this area still standing and to read some of the stories of those who had been housed there. 

I will leave many of my thoughts, and the conversations held among the housemates about the things we saw and encountered unsaid here. I think some things are just for the moments in which they occur.  I will instead share here some of the photos of our time in Riga, and the boat trip there and back. (My first cruise ever, by the way.)