Latvian Renaissance Faire

Trip Start Aug 11, 2012
Trip End Aug 26, 2012

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Flag of Latvia  ,
Sunday, August 19, 2012

Rīga is the biggest city in the Baltic States as well as the capitol of Latvia. The Baltic States, by the way, consist of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The odd thing about Rīga is that only about 40% of their population is Latvian.  The majority, about 60%, is Russian.  This makes some sense however, as Latvia very recently became independent from Russia.  The Soviets conquered Latvia and they only just regained independence in 1935.  In 1991, the Soviets brought in tanks to try to quell the desire for freedom, yet the Latvians made a human wall.  They had no weapons, no power, only themselves, yet they managed to stop tanks in their tracks.  There is now a monument to their bravery, stating "Let us never be slaves again."

Today the city of Rīga was celebrating its birthday, so we got to see a few good shows.  There were many concerts going on that could be heard randomly throughout the city.  There was also what I am convinced was an SCA event going on in downtown Rīga.  I recognized quite a few things as probably SCAdian.  If not SCAdian, then there was most assuredly a Latvian Renaissance Fair.  Who would have though, me crossing the ocean only to watch part of an SCA event? It even seemed that Latvia had a version of our Medieval Times restaurant, which I found amusing.

There has been one common theme of all of the countries that we have visited on this journey.  All of them were devastated by World War II.  I guess I never realized how much was destroyed when my country is safely across the ocean.  Every city we have visited has suffered greatly.  Many historical structures are just gone.  In Rønne, there was a house that had some symbols carved into it.  These symbols note that this house was the only one to remain standing after 1943 when the German's bombed the land.  The fact that so little survived really makes you realize everything that these countries had to go through.

On a happier note: Shortly after embarking the ship once again there was an air show just off the back of the ship at port.  When I heard loud rumbling noises I stepped out onto the back porch to see an airplane with the Latvian flag on its wings stall high up in the air and start spinning down.  After the initial “Oh no!” I realized that there was an air show beginning.  It was really neat to see, and on the boat we had the best seats in the house. 

After the air show we went on a galley tour to see the main kitchen in the ship.  That was quite neat.  I had never seen the galley of a ship before.  The kitchens were very large and really impressive in how things were set up.  While there were some things they couldn’t have on board due to the constant rocking of the ship, the galley was significantly larger and better stocked than I had anticipated.  On this ship they actually have 5 different galleys.  There is the main galley, which we saw, the crew galley, and separate galleys for all of the other restaurants.  We also learned that if the ship has more than 80% Americans, they double the number of burgers and fries.  But if there are lots of French Canadians they double the amount of foie gras.  I just think that to be rather interesting. 

Once again we set sail overnight.  This time we are en route to Helsinki where we are taking another bike tour.  Should be a blast!
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