Samstag, 5. September 2009
Rīgas iela
During the flight to Riga we saw a gigantic peninsula which I assume is the impressive peninsula Hel. The trip from the airport to the city center was easy. Therefore my preliminary conclusion - Riga is a friendly city. We had a brief come together (see picture below) in the university which is a nice building located very central. It is good that there are people from all project partner countries. Naturally we went out at night, namely in the old part of Riga where there is quite some activity going on. However, I was surprised that a lot of police cruises the area. I learned that the police is not protecting the tourists but protecting the Riga-people from drunken tourists (somehow). Nevertheless, suddenly a young woman showed up speaking to use in a foreign language. As we did not react, she spoke in English, asking for some change, with the argument that she needs to buy a ticket to go home. I have been in many countries and have been asked for money quite often. The weird thing in this case was, that she was well dressed and somehow insisting. In principle, I cannot imagine how she got in this uncomfortable situation. Anyway, after leaving our table with one Lats she went on to the next table. This was a singular event and in general people are very nice and helpful.
We made an excursion to Salacgriva (also: 1, 2) which is located in a so called biosphere close to the Baltic Sea. The trip by bus takes one and a half hour. Time that our local project partners used to explain us some sites that we passed and to give a very brief insight in Latvias changeful history. It was also interesting to learn that forests a very important and protected in Riga and Latvia, representing approx. 50 percent of the countries land cover. People go and search for berries as well as mushrooms. Beavers have been extincted at certain time in the past. After resettling them in Latvia, they seem to be some kind of a plague by now. I recommend to renaturalize the habitat of the otters (which used to be one of my favorite animals when I was a kid).
The last day we had a meeting in Jurmala which is one vulnerable region. We inspected the coastal protection. The town used to be part of Riga. There are many very nice summer lodges, mostly wooden, whereas many of them are renovated. Some of them are not and look somewhat old having a very special charm. The villas are integrated in the wood, mainly pine. It is somehow a contrast to Riga.
Finally, I also bought some stuff before leaving. Among it is also a CD by the Double Faced Eels. By accident I bought a rather good CD. The band from Riga is playing something between alternative pop and rock. I only wish their music would be influenced a little bit more by Latvian culture.