Sunday, August 23, 2009
This and that
After staying in downtown Riga for a couple of nights, we rented a car and moved out into the suburbs to a hotel that we found on Booking.com called Mezaparks. It was located right on a beautiful lake. An added bonus that was not mentioned in the Booking.com information was that it was on the site of the Latvian Olympic Committee grounds. It looked like much of the construction on the facilities had ceased when the economy tanked--there were half-finished dormitories and buildings and the fields were not in the best shape but I saw enough to have me rooting for Latvian athletes at the next Olympics.
Once we checked into the Mezaparks hotel, we drove south to Rundale Palace near the Lithuania border to see an exhibit of 19th centuries portraits. The curator at the art museum had told us that one of Johann Maddaus' paintings from the museum had been loaned to the exhibit. So we drove down expecting to see one portrait and were surprised to find five! While not an art historian, I am self-employed and can imagine that perhaps portrait painting was dependable, steady income.
We toured the rest of the palace and were impressed with the opulent life style of the Russian and German nobility who used the palace prior to the 20th century. I did not find any information on how it survived the years of occupation.
The next night was Riga fest with music and art in all of the plazas. We had spent the day visiting churches and learning about the struggle for freedom and the cost of occupation but set out in the evening to experience the joy of freedom Baltic style.
At 10 p.m. (way past our Maine bedtime), Charlie joined 4000 runners in a 4.5K race through downtown Riga. What fun this all is!