Monday, 1 July 2013
After booking into our hotel in Riga we had a wander through the local parks and the old city. The old city is situated on the banks of the Daugava River and was once protected by raised embankments and a huge moat encircling the part of the town not backing onto the river. The moat still exists but has been reduced to about a third of its original width and is now known as the Riga Canal and is used by tourist craft and rental water craft.
Riga, as is common with most of the Baltic area, has had only limited periods of independence. Latvia was independent from 1918 to 1939 and since 1993. It has been ruled by the Russians, both Imperial and Soviet, the Danes, the Swedes, the Germans, the Poles and various odds and sods. The Latvian language is part of the Indo-European group; is similar to Lithuanian, and both are regarded as being much closer to the original Indo-European language than other languages of this group.
About half the population is now ethnically Latvian, followed by a large group of ethnic Russians originally migrating here as part of a deliberate "sovietisation" push by the Russian communists. Latvian is the only official language but many residents, especially the younger ones, have English as a second language. They are all so very friendly and obliging.
Most photographs, now and in the future, will generally appear under the Riga album of our photographhs so kkeep checking this album until we leave Latvia. We are doing separate albums for tours and for the XXV Latvian Music festival, the latter will finish on the morning of 8 July.