Today we took it a little easier than the other days. We didn’t do any tour of the city, but we did ride the shuttle into Riga and walked around. The shuttle dropped us off at the main square called Town Hall Square. The architecture of Riga is a mix of old, Soviet, and modern and the buildings of Town Hall Square demonstrates that perfectly. There was an old structure, the House of the Blackheads, that was built in the 1300s, an ugly Soviet building that housed a museum, and just around the corner was a modern (post-Soviet) building. There is a statue in the middle of the square of a man holding a sword. In ancient times, the sword was used as the geographical center of the city and all measurements were based off of that point. We then wandered to St. Paul’s church (I think it was Paul’s, it might have been Peter’s though, I can’t remember). It was like many other small town Germanic churches. We continued to wander through various streets and eventually made it to Dome Square named after the domed church which is the dominant landmark in the square. We walked around, took some pictures and ate some Latvian ice cream. Then we headed back to the Town Hall Square.
We went into the Museum of the Occupation which was located in the ugly Soviet building. It was a very small museum, but nonetheless informative. Here are a few things that I found to be interesting.
- Like Estonia, Latvia was occupied many times by various forces. It started with the Soviets, then the Nazis and then the Soviets again.
- Before the Nazis occupied Latvia, 70,000 Jews lived in Latvia. Within a few months, only 1500 Jews were still alive. Over the course of the first few days, many thousands of the Jews were murdered by twelve Nazis. The Jews were forced to undress and climb into a pit. Then they were shot through the head at a range of two metres. Many others were killed in various other ways, but it was very depressing so I won’t describe them here.
- There was an exhibit where they displayed various examples of graffiti art about “freedom for the Baltic States” on the Berlin Wall.
After we got back to the boat, mom and I went to play put put on the 12th deck. I won by 5 shots on the 9 hole course. Then I tried the rock climbing wall. The teens are going to be doing a speed climb in a few days, so I want to be ready. After that, Mom and I went to play pool (billiards). I won the first two games because mom put the 8 ball in. We didn’t finish the last game because we had to go get ready for dinner. She had more balls pocketed, but I was making a comeback.
After dinner, I found a big group of people playing cards, ping-pong, and chess. I learned how to play a card game called speed. It’s really fun. Anyway, I’ll let you theorize about my evening, but I will tell you that I went to bed eventually.