Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Hippo in the Baltics - chapter 2 - Latvia the Bella

Posted by Hippo Bean at 10:15 PM
Lativa

Border crossing, eu to eu again, was simply driving through the border control booths, now empty. no stamp on the passport. No prove the Hippo's been to Latvia.

Riga

The biggest of the Baltic capitals, a sprawling city as compared to Vilnius. Even the river, the Daugava which dumped its water into the Baltic sea, was wider than the intimate Neris back in Lithuania, and bridges longer, the daugavpils railway bridge, the stone bridge, and the cable bridge vanšu, they stood on our left as we continued towards the baltic sea, to our hotel.


It was near 9PM and we had tasteless tilapia over cold lentils for dinner. Fish on lentils? Terribly horrible dinner it was, but we got upgraded to Business class room, large bed, large room, tiny but clean renovated bathroom. Room window opened to a back parking lot, no view. There was an enormous expresso machine sitting on the table but no coffee was provided. this time, there was an outlet by the table and the power chord plugged in just right.

It began to rain by the time we're done with the art noveau on Alberta and Elizabete streets. Eizenšteins' statues with shocking expressive faces, over decorated façades and windows did not necessarily pleased my eyes. interesting to look at but not really beautiful to me. Reminded me of Gauthier's creations. Somehow they thought more and excessive meant beauty. The thing was, your eyes just suffered an initial shock and then you didnt really care to look anymore. I find the beauty in simple things much more appealing. We drove through the town in rain. The Opera house was fine and the Orthodox church with its signature onion domes, well, very pretty orthodox style. Some of the embassies on the embassy road shared front yards like the italian and netherland embassies, 2 flags in 1 courtyard. It poured by the time we got to the old Town. Very pretty with churches and spires everywhere. Here in the Baltics, everything was red brick. Old dwellings very cozy. Quite enjoyed this old town. Had lunch at a local restaurant. The steak was hard and chewy. Just like the meat in Ethiopia. Tasty but made my jaw quite tired. No steak knife so the eating was hard work.


Rundale

The Hippo first saw it in the Castle book that M got for xmas. That was what triggered the Hippo to visit it some day. Who would have known a tiny Baltic state castle would make it to the World's Castle book.

It was quite early when we got there, before the crowd. A cloudy day but no rain. The air smelled cold. Soon a group of small school children caught up with us and the castle touring became a nightmarish hell with kids running all over the place.

The castle resembled somewhat the Schönbrunn in Wien. Same color, smaller in size. I quite like the Rundale. It felt quite intimate, although the Grand Hall didnt lack the usual gold trimming, painted ceilings and chandeliers. The Duke's apartments were decorated in good taste. Elaborately ornate but not exaggerated. Even the garden looked similar to the Schönbrunn's, although again, in a smaller scale. and not packed with tourists, unlike the Viennese cousin. I really liked this palace.

Lunch was at an amusement park called Lido. gocar course, miniature golf course, carnival game booths and shops, and a buffet restaurant inside an enormous log cabin. I mean enormous. However, the buffet wasnt really our American style buffets. Buffet in a sense that you could select what you want but have to pay for each item, and couldnt come back for more without paying again. I was hungry so I grabbed the sausages, the first items I saw. Deeper in to the restaurant, I found meat pies and wraps, lamb shanks, buffalo steaks, pork chops and chicken in every cooked way, deep fried, in pies, croquettes, grilled, roasted. Endless desserts, cakes, ice cream, tiramasu, puddings. Endless types of drinks, soda, juices, beer. Never ending side dishes, potatoes in every form, mashed, boiled, baked, scalloped, fried. Pasta and noodles, multiple types of rice, risotto, veggies of every kind. 6 different kinds of soup. not to mention the type of sausages. The food offered in this place was overwhelming to the point of scary. The food that I've sampled was tasty but not amazingly good.

Back to Riga, the bus stopped in mid traffic and the Hippo on impulse jumped out. Had to photograph the 3 bridges over the Daugava. Walked back towards the Old Town to view the Riga Castle, now the presidential residence, and looked for St James hidden behind buildings. Back at the hotel, went for a massage and spent the last night in Latvia chatting with airline pilots in the hotel restaurant.

Quite liked this capital, Riga and Rundale, the Bellas.

Latvia photos:


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