Saturday, July 16, 2005


(Pictures to come)

We've had a nice overnight stay in Riga, Latvia. The capital of Latvia, it is an interesting mix of the Old Town (most of which is 800 years old) and the new town, which is straight out of the urban development playbook of some US suburb. We spent the evening wandering the Old Town admiring the Art Noveau architecture prevalient throughout the old city. We were quite impressed with the town hall and Riga's 14th century House of the Blackheads.

Impressed of course until we found out that both had been competely rebuild about 4 years ago and were far enough away from the previous plans that UNESCO threatened to pull their World Heritage Site designation. Evidently the citizens of Riga weren't to happy with the "inspired" redesign as well. Seems to be an appropriate metaphor for the town though. Somewhere where hundreds of years of history is butting heads with the explosion of modern commerce. And unlike a lot of countries, it seems that Latvia is torn between the two and it will be interesting to see in the future what direction the city goes.

Not much else to say other than Becca put the kibosh on us spending the afternoon at this to head out to Segulda. For those of you rusty with your Latvian, it says that the European World's Strongest Man Competition is on in Riga this weekend. Oh well, I guess we'll be too busy storming the castles of Segulda ;-)

We stayed at Elizabeth's Youth Hostel, right by the train station. It ended up being significantly cleaner and nicer inside than the walk to the building and through the building to the hostel door led us to expect. They didn't have any doubles left, so we got beds in a room with eight. Happily, this hostel had coed dorm rooms so we at least got to be in bunk beds in the same room. Staying here reminded us of all the things we like and don't like about hostels. It was really nice to have people to talk to again. Most of the places we've been at have been hotels or other situations where there are no common rooms or opportunity to interact with others. Here we got to talk to four guys from the Basque country in France and then got all kinds of trip advice from two guys from England who were making our trip in reverse. We miss interaction with others, so we really need to keep finding places like this. However, it is nice having a room to yourself and not having to worry about the security of your stuff or what time the others will go to bed or get up or how much noise they will make. It actually wasn't too bad here, though our roomates came back after 3 am...they were pretty quiet. So I think our preference will be hostels with doubles. That gives us something less expensive, often with a common room to talk to others and a kitchen to make food in (something else we're coming to really value), but we still have our privacy and often a toilet and shower in our room.

That's pretty much heaven for us at this point. Interesting how things change on the road...

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