We took our relatively short flight from Krakow to Riga, Latvia on Tuesday. Gabriel was impressed with the prop plane we took on the first leg; his mother – not so much.
Though not as picturesque as earlier destinations, our mission here was for Aubrey to see and experience the country of her birth. Although the orphanage where she spent her first 5 months is closed, a poignant moment was meeting again with Tamara, our Latvian guide and translator when Michelle and my sister Meg traveled to Riga nearly seventeen years ago. She delighted in seeing Aubrey, commented on what a beautiful young lady she had grown to be and shared with Aubrey her part in our adoption journey.
We did take a train down to the closest beach and put our toes in the Baltic Sea. But with temperatures in the high 60s and cloudy skies, there was no swimming or sunbathing happening. Latvia according to one source has winter “11 months out of 12” and most locals who can afford to, vacation more southward.
Riga is home to different architectural styles as witnessed by a visit to the old town. The area is dominated by no less than eight churches, including Riga Dome cathedral and St. Peter’s Church. We stayed at a quite regal hotel per Latvian standards, in a city still carries an overcast and somewhat indifferent demeanor from its communist past. We did a city tour with a rather pessimistic young Latvian student, who insisted everyone was moving out of the country (mostly to the Scandinavian peninsula) for better economic options. Still, we enjoyed a couple of fine restaurants and strolling through a quaint local park.
Interesting Latvian fact: this year marked the longest freedom era of time in its history (12 years, and counting). Vestiges of communism remain (such as electric-cabled buses) but as with other Eastern European nations capitalism and investment will hopefully bring a modicum of prosperity in the years to come.