Monday, September 19, 2005

Now you see them - Now you don't

Just as each season brings has its own character, so Riga's character changes with each season. Each and every Spring the city explodes with outdoor cafes, bars and restaurants. It would seem that it is mandatory for all the normal indoor bars to have their own area outside. This usually achieved by building an outdoor deck attached to the building, putting on a cover and voila - an outdoor area.

However it is in the squares that the biggest metamorphosis ( impressive huh !) takes place. Both the Livu and Dome square transform themselves into a teaming mass of cafes and bars. Every year they become more and more impressive and sophisticated. This year saw the advent of a glass panelled cafes complete with gas heaters. They tell me that this one might actually see the winter out.

One restaurant in Dome square called "13 chairs" because normally that is all the chairs that are inside the restaurant - could be called 113 chairs as it explodes onto Dome square.

Along with this outdoor extravaganza, then the summer characters appear.

The "dancing" Lady sets up her patch in Livu square, complete with pre-recorded music and proceeds to dance. Actually she continuously spins rounds. - God only know how she feels after a day's dancing !

The we have the street artists, who will draw your portrait for a small fee. There are two of them, one you wanders around the square cigarette in mouth, and plugged into his CD player, never actually seen him draw anyone. The other is more of entrepreneur, he draws the unsuspecting who have chosen to sit and enjoy a coffee/beer and then "presents" the finished article. I think he works on the percentage principle.

In the area close to the Freedom Monument ( see picture) there is a wonderful Lady who appears every day complete with xylophone ( a children's one) - and spends the rest of the happily banging away on the keys. I think she could be termed a musical improviser - and has never been know to play the same tune twice !

Across the whole of the old town the street are awash with music, with people of all ages playing their instrument of choice -accordion, Cello, violins, saxophones etc. In the case of the latter the saxophonist has an interesting musical style. My personal favourites are the children - some of whom are simply magical. There they stand playing their instruments, to an unbelievable high standard. Many are as young as 6-8 years old.

They all have one thing in common, in their own individual way they provide entertainment to the passers by, who in turn can reward them as they see fit.

Unlike the beggars, they add to the character of the city.

This year has seen a new innovation - rickshaws - That's right we have rickshaws in Riga. Usually propelled by young students, in mid term break - -they carry up to two people round the Old City. Have not tried it myself, as the thought of sitting in the back of a rickshaw, being bounced all over ( did I mention all the streets in the old city are cobblestones ?) - Can you imagine the state of your rear end at the end of the trip ?

But just as these outdoor cafes and bars, along with the characters you inhabit them, seem to appear as if by magic - so they disappear in the same way, making way for the chill of the autumn and winter months.

Just as I asked about "them" ( See unsung heroes) - so I wonder where do these bars and cafes go - likewise the characters.

One thing is sure that come next April/May they will be back - to add color and life to the Old City.

For me I had my (probably) last walk on the beach this weekend - beautiful - You did not know Latvia has the best beaches in Northern Europe ?- a story for another time, perhaps when the time comes when instead of walking in the sea, you can walk on the sea !!


Anonymous John kEAT said...

It leaves me very emotional to read your comments about the seasons change in Riga.Personally I believe each season has it's own wonders,but I especially love Autumn as it gives me a feeling of fullness and to be in Riga in late September on a blue skied sunny autumnal day and watch the leaves fall in the park is wonderful.
In fact it reminds me of one of my poems,oh.."Season of mists and mellow fruitfullnes"

Best regards David,

John Keats

1:40 pm  
Anonymous Robert Browning said...

Interesting and evocative but England in April is better never mind what old Keatsy has to say (by the way his Ode to Autumn is ok but his one to Spring...Crap!)

"Oh to be in England now that April.."

Best Wishes
Robert Browning
ps Read my "Home Thoughts from Abroad" if you want good poetry.

1:53 pm  
Anonymous William Wordsworth said...

C'mon you two Romantics the final word on whose poetry is best is mine whether we wander near "Tintern Abbey"
or smell those "Golden Daffodils" I can support the Scot in Riga and agree that Riga and Latvia in general is a wonderfully evocative place spoiled only by the cretins who invade on weekends.

Billy Wordsworth.

2:01 pm  
Anonymous Tiny Tim said...

You trio of bloody Poofs, Riga is best for Hard Drinking,swearing, being generally rude and abusing women! Oh give me more of it, better if you Buggers wrote an Ode to Budget Airlines and Shagging!


2:05 pm  
Anonymous Dylan Thomas said...

Well you are all wrong see,'cos you can write good poetry about Autumn and still be a drunken, womanising, abusive shagger!

If budget airlines had been invented then I may have drunk myself to death on Rigas Black Balsam and Felinfoel Double Dragon with the odd pint of Vodka thrown in? I could have slipped away in Riga (more like Swansea) than in New York so I would suggest that you read my poem penned around my 30th birthday "Poem in October"

Regards Bach

5:00 pm  
Anonymous Tom said...

Who do you know David with such a knowledge of Poetry?

If you are unsure if these are e-mails from beyond the grave or not it has to be a job for Magnum PI

Tom S

5:05 pm  
Anonymous Sergei said...

Keep going David, very nice!!!!!
Timothy was allways "very special";)

3:06 am  

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