One of the ports that was new to almost every person on board our spring Enrichment Voyage was Riga. But not me and not SVV.
Somehow, we had both been to the capital of Latvia, but not with each other: He had visited on a stopover from Denmark to Azerbaijan in 2006, while I detoured there on my way to visit my friend Katrina in Estonia in 2009. (Our lives, indeed, are random.)
It really is a charming town. Several in my writing workshop described it as “Disney-esque”—whether because of the touristy factor or the Old Town’s architecture, I don’t know (possibly a combination of both)—but it’s easily walkable without a map or a plan.
And while it seems quite small, that’s not actually the case: As the largest city in the Baltic, it has close to 700,000 residents. But you’d never know it, as quiet and relaxed as many parts of Riga appear.
Latvia has only enjoyed full independence since the early 90s, but again you wouldn’t know it, as there aren’t many traces of Soviet life remaining. If it reminded me of anywhere I’d been, that would be Tallinn, not Russia.
Though oddly enough—and this came up completely randomly in conversation this morning with Christopher, one of SVV’s old Navy pals who’s in visiting us—Latvian is the oldest living language in the world. (I’m still trying to confirm that fact, though a bit of Googling does support his claim.)
We had no set agenda in our eight hours on land as our friends Katrina and Erkki had planned to arrive in the morning and spend the day with us, but due to a nasty stomach bug, they were sidelined and didn’t arrive until after 2pm (on-ship time was 5). So we drank as we waited.
Eventually, they showed up, and we got to share a couple beers (sparkle water for Kata), catch up and go for a wander.But all too soon, it was time to go back to the ship. And tell our friends good-bye once more, until some equally random occurrence brings us back to their little corner of the world (which no doubt it will, sooner rather than later).