Our hearts sank as we drew back the curtains to see torrential rain beating against the windows, causing us to rethink our plans for the day! First though, it was off to breakfast which is served in the basement of the hotel. The cellars have been tastefully converted into two eating areas with a third room set aside for the self service buffet breakfast. There was a reasonable selection of hot and cold dishes plus a hot drinks machine which produced very good cappuccinos. The Latvian rye bread tasted delicious and I was tempted into returning for an extra slice which I topped with some delicious blackberry jam.
Glancing outside, the downpour continued so we consulted our map and settled on visiting some museums. Setting off, our first stop was to the Nativity of Christ Cathedral which had a magnificent interior. Photography is not allowed so I am only able to show the rain soaked exterior. It was then a short walk to the Latvian War Museum but this was long enough for us to get completely saturated in the driving rain. Localised flooding along the roads resulted in our shoes becoming wet and we were grateful to reach the museum entrance so that we could attempt to dry off a little.
We really enjoyed touring the galleries and learning about Latvia’s role in the first and second world wars, Soviet occupation and the gaining of independence in 1918 and 1991. There were also interesting videos explaining how both world wars started and which countries were allied together. The war museum is quite large and I would definitely recommend fitting in a visit when visiting Riga. Stepping outside, the rain had become even heavier and it felt like monsoon conditions as we struggled along the short distance to the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. This is one of the largest private museums in Latvia, admission is free but donations are welcome to assist running costs. The galleries cover the history of Latvia’s fifty year occupation (1940-1991) and explain how the Soviet Union occupied and annexed Latvia, describing the hardships the nation endured. Another interesting museum, and one I would highly recommend. Apologies for the following rain spattered photograph.
It was approaching lunchtime so we braved the elements once more and headed to a cafe for toasted sandwiches and hot drinks. Feeling uncomfortable in our wet clothes we then returned to our hotel which was nearby to change and try and dry out. Our shoes were worst affected and we resorted to using the bathroom hairdryer on them to dry them a little as we had not packed spare pairs for our four day trip.
Setting off again, we took shelter by window shopping in the upscale Galleria shopping mall and then called into the nearby tourist information office for suggestions of more things to do in the monsoon conditions. It was suggested that we might enjoy visiting the small Museum of Architecture which the clerk marked on a map for us. Despite it not being very far, our map had totally disintegrated before we reached the museum which was located in a characterful old building. Looking around, there were only two small rooms open to view with others temporarily closed so we didn’t stay too long and then decided it was time for our afternoon tea and cakes.
After a couple of hours back in our room drying out we opted to eat dinner near to the hotel as there seemed no end to the heavy rain. The weather forecast promised dry conditions for the remainder of our stay so hopefully our planned sightseeing would be back on track for the remaining two days.
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