Riga again

Trip Start Sep 24, 2006
Trip End Sep 01, 2007

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hello again from Riga, where the NATO Summit is held. I had a wonderful time in Sweden, thanks to the wonderful hospitality of Lage and Birgitta, Leif and Inger, Vanja and Bertil. I met some new relatives> Lage and Leif°s sister Lena and her children Sarah and Martin and Vanya=s daughter Leana and her daughter Emma. Also met Tommy, another cousin, and saw Marta again at Vanja,s. I had a great time, took a couple of road trips to Morsil to see Vanja's natural products to sale at a Christmas Market, then on to Are where the ski slopes are and went to Askersund to see a cabin for sale and then on to Skarvangen, a little community where my relatives immigrated from, about 80 km or so from Ostersund. Had many family dinners, and I was so comfortable at Lage and Birgitta,s house. They are all quite close together and from their house it was about a 15 minute walk downtown.
The 2 trains from Ostersund to Stockholm were on time, clean and lots of room in this off season. The ferry the Regina Baltic was fine too and quite full, maybe 300 or so passenger. I watched a couple of games in the Show Lounge. One game was to name the flower-city or name in a song, or name the composer. They were virtually all American songs and there were several people playing the game. Then I went to my cabin and my mates came and one spoke English so we talked until 3 a.m. ! She and 2 colleagues had been to a Christmas Market/Trade Show in Norway to sell their product = handcrafted wedding albums and picture frames which are mainly sold to Germany. They have an exclusive product and sell 5k alone to Germany per month. Anyway °Saundra had lived in the US and spoke to her suppliers and customers in English so was perfectly fluent and she was a very nice person so that was another nice experience on the boat. Most of the passenġers were Latvian but spoke Russian and very few seemed to be Swedish going to Latvia. A lot had apparently taken advantage of the 50 Lats for 2 people $100) for 2 people to take ferry over to Stockholm and back, 2 nights on the ferry and 5 hours in Stockholm. sounds like quite a deal. The weather in Stockholm was a little warmer than Ostersund, and Riga is much the same.
Anyway due to the NATO security summit in Riga today all shops downtown are closed, and busses were not leaving from the Port so I had to walk from the Port, through Old Town to get to my favourite hostel, Central Hostel. It is like coming home here and it is quiet due to many people not coming to Riga because of the Summit. Anyway there are hundreds of security people everywhere and I am surprised they did not stop me or question me as I strolled amongst them trying to find my way downtown, with a pack which could have contained anything. It was a very bizarre feeling, and I saw a sniper on a building I went by and thought, if I make one false move. I am sure you will see parts of Riga on CBC News BBC CNN tonight and tomorrow / youll be able to see what I am seeing now.
Customs at the Port took a long time, standing outside in the cold Atlantic air, sure cooler than in the downtown area. Anyway, there is no check regarding duty free stuff, although there is duty free shop on the ferry, i guess because it is all EU, it doesn't matter.

TOmorrow I venture through security again to leave for Berlin and Rome. Apparently I have to be out at airport 3 hours before my 1>30 p.m. flight, to go through security and have to take a special bus from the bus station as no taxis or private cars will be allowed. Will report from Rome, I should arrive about 7>30 pm
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