Returning to Riga for the second time in my life has been a wonderful experience. I really feel I am becoming more familiar with a city that was the birthplace of my Father. Coming to Latvia for me was about reconnection, uncovering the secrets and gems of this magical city is an experience I have thoroughly enjoyed.
My last few days were adventured solo. I was staying in an AirBnb not far from the city centre, an easy tram ride away. After my first day at the beach I was looking forward to returning to the markets, wandering through the city and stumbling across new hidden treasures.
What I have discovered, Riga is full of the most impressive architecture I have ever seen. And it is not just a few buildings, there are so many beautiful, opulent, colourful and posh mansions I really couldn’t believe my eyes.
I walked through the parks, along the river and wandered back and forth and around the old city, getting lost through the maze of cobblestone streets. I made my way back over to the markets, nibbling on fresh cherries and strawberries as I wandered through the massive old Zeppelin storage sheds, established many years ago by the Germans. There are four main sheds, one each for cheeses, meats, vegetables and fruits and fish. Can you imagine? This is one of the biggest and best markets all through Europe.
I visited a few different museums and the National Art Gallery, which holds one of the most impressive collections of art I have ever seen. I had a few favourites, but overall really enjoyed the display of art, both old and modern.
The detail in the second painting was unbelievable! I really loved the artists style and sense of humour! And there is something magical about the portrait, it really appealed to me.
As I wandered around the gallery and then back onto the streets I became emotional, out of the blue, tears streaked my face as I shed a moment of grief. Death is a part of life, but it has been challenging to let my parents go. Being in my Dads birthplace reminded me of him so much. It was wonderful to be walking the streets of Riga, but I so yearned to have my parents back with me again. Returning to Latvia has helped me feel closer to my Dad in a new way. I am understanding his culture and his past and his way of life. Even though he left Latvia when he was a teenager in troubled times of war, I feel like he did not get the chance to experience the best of Latvia. Latvia has had a very difficult past, war after war, being occupied by different countries, but the strength of its people endures. Cultural practises and traditions continue, and for me, experiencing this fascinating country first hand reconnects me to my Dad and makes me understand him even more. He came to Australia as a foreigner with no English, making his way as a new Australian was tough! He sure did come a long way, and he never returned to live in his native country Latvia, which he continued to speak fondly of throughout his life.
Above images you can see some of the beautiful buildings I saw, and the tree is a little Oak tree, which is me! This is what my name Ozolins means!
I understand my heritage more after my time travelling around this beautiful country, and feel proud to be a half Latvian. Even though my name Anita Ozolins is a very Latvian name, and I wear two Latvian rings; not speaking the language feels like a travesty! So this is one area I would like to improve on!
One main objective of coming to Latvia was to collect my Latvian passport. I am proud to tell you I have managed to do just this! On my first day arriving here, we went along and filed the paperwork, they took my photo and fingerprints, then 5 days later I came back to collect my new shiny passport! I am a very proud member of the EU now and pleased to have a passport which reflects my heritage and honours my Fathers past.
I know I will be back to Latvia. I have loved all the amazing experiences I have had here on this trip. From eating all the tasty food at the markets and local restaurants, to walking the picturesque streets and admiring the buildings, to smelling the thick green forests and aromatic flora; to picking bright colourful flowers for Ligo festival. I have loved every minute of my time here, and I know I will be back in the future to do it all over again!
If you enjoyed reading this post, you may like to read Part 7 or Part 8 which are both also about my time in Latvia. I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog about my travels here in Latvia, I would love to hear from you, please message me, follow me and share my post to other Latvians/Half Latvians so we can all enjoy the experience even more!
Paldies! Labdien! Labi!