Wednesday, September 23, 2009

To deck or not to deck ?

There can be no doubt that one of the major success stories of this summer has been the "No Problem" outdoor bar in Dome Square - and given the exceptional summer we have had, I can safely state that it became the place for what is left of the village people to congregate, and enjoy a beer and watch the world go by (ok and the women as well !). But I fear that with the onset of Autumn and its imminent closure (11th October I think) , linked to serious drop in temperature, allied to a little rain, it is once again time to think of where to park our rears over the winter months - and it looks as if we have but one choice, a return to the village lounge.

However "No Problem" will re-open in mid December ( or so we have been advised) but this time with an enclosed and presumably heated interior, also the grapevine tells me that for next summer it capacity will be increased by way of building a "second" floor ( not sure where or how) - clearly a sign that financially it has been an outstanding success. It will be interesting to sit outdoors but indoors over the winter months with minus temperatures all around.

Speaking of the village people one of our long term members is about to depart these shores and return to the land of Os - will not mention his name as not sure how many people actually know, but if I say "gates" then those of you in the know will guess the identity. Sad to see another one go, but a sign of the times.

This weekend sees that annual sporting ritual from Down Under - Aussie rules final. This a time when every Australian in Riga crawls out at an ungodly hour ( 7.00am) to watch this piece of sporting mayhem ( well at least to the uninitiated) - In the past we have watched this game at De Lacy's, then more recently at "Franks" but at the time of writing not sure where it will be hosted this weekend, indeed not even sure if we can watch it at all as it appears SKY no longer covers the game and as best I can find out ESPN are the only ones showing the game, and not sure if anyone here gets that channel. - So perhaps another piece of local colour will dissapear.

Speaking of colour with Autumn now approaching, the tress are once again displaying their stunning Autumnal colours, before once again bring the leaf sweeper upperers into action, walking through the various parks it is a joy just to look upwards and enjoy the show of nature.

One of the quirks in old Riga, is the apparent stupidy of the police. It appears that any signage ( and I do mean ANY signage) must be approved by the Riga City council, this includes shop signs, displays in shop windows and to the amazement of the village lounge proprietors the blackboard signs indicating menu's, sporting announcement etc. So this week ALL such signs have disappeared - Now I can somewhat undertand shop signs, etc but notices ??? - so its ok to have strip clubs all over the place, but shops, bars etc cannot announce to customers of attractions to be found inside. No wonder this country / City is in trouble.

Indeed one of more entrepreneurial village members A....(Australian/Latvian) with a penchant for designing and manufacturing custom Latvian souvenirs, has also ran foul of this "rule". His misdemeanor was to place two bicycles at each end of his street where his shop is pointing towards his little shop. net result of thus activity - well todate Ls3,000 in fines, with a good possibility of more to come !!

Net result of this - shop will close at end of this month, landlord will lose out on rent, Country will loose out on PVN income ( ok- not a lot), and visitor to Riga lose out on a very good and unique set of souvenirs, all made in Latvia.

Now I know rules are rules, but I would have thought that a little common sense should prevail, or maybe it just reflects the mentality of those that govern our lives here in Latvia. Obviously it is ok to have a McDonald's directly opposite the countries most famous national monument, but it is not ok for small enterprise to promote it wares. Or is it a case of who you know and how much you pay ?

Well to those ex-village members out there trust you are all well, it would be nice to here from you - perhaps one day we can have a reunion ?

PS - If there are any Irish/Scots/English out there who (a) have money and (b) know how to run a real pub - please get in touch - we NEED YOU !!!


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