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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

We woke up from a very deep, on a ship with no lights or sound-induced sleep around 8:30 this morning and all met up for breakfast, having decided to splurge/spend the last of our Swedish Krona on the breakfast buffet, so we ate that while watching the last hour of our trip into the harbour go by.

By this point and having spent quite some time reading about the TB and tick-borne encephalitis and other fun things Latvia had to offer, combined with not knowing much at all about Riga has to offer or what the story with the Workaway place is, I was getting a little nervous about what to expect.

We got off the ferry and saw a very cute looking town in front of us, but we weren't entirely sure who we were meeting, except that it was a guy named Zane, so we stood around in the terminal looking a bit lost, and were just on our way out to look at the car park when we saw a very nicely dressed woman with a sign saying 'Daniel and Cecil.' Close enough.

Turns out that she 'wouldn't dream of having us work on your first day,' so she dropped us off in the centre of Riga for about 7 hours of exploring. We spent a couple of hours just walking around the gorgeous Old Town, which was lovely! It was a gorgeous, hot day today, about 30C, which was kind of ridiculous and a bit too hot, but it was nice to get thrown into summer finally.

We ended up finding a nice park by a huge statue (Freedom Statue) and walked around there for a little bit before popping back out by the statue to discover the Military honor guard, representatives of the army, navy, and air force (we're kind of guessing with that, but there were definitely three branches of people with guns represented. It was pretty obvious that someone important was about to rock up, so we hung around for a minute and pretty quickly a relatively small motorcade arrived and let out two men, who walked up and put two wreathes on the statue and then went and shook hands with some other official looking people before walking away. We headed away slightly confused but found out later that it was the President of Latvia and the Prince of Monaco. Not a bad welcome to the country, really.

We ate lunch at TGIFridays because we knew it would satisfy our salad cravings and we could sit outside, and then did some more walking before heading (via the Train Museum, as we got a bit lost) to the Museum of Occupations. Man Latvia has had a tough go of it! It was a very interesting but gruelling and dense museum--I definitely left feeling like I'd been reading a history textbook for two and a half hours, but we learned about the Soviet Occupation and the Nazi Occupation and the second Soviet Occupation, and that it in its entire history, Latvia has only had something like 40 years of independence, total. A good chunk of that has been since 1991 when they got themselves back from Russia.

We eventually met back up with Zane and her one year old Mix and headed out to the squash club, which is about 20 minutes from the city. It's a lovely property with a huge, very cool playground, two squash courts, a little cottage-like apartment, small garden and swimming pool, and friendly people and dogs. Zane's sister lives next door (they are her dogs) and you can really see that when they get it finished, it's going to be a great place.

We were sort of expecting to be put straight to work, but instead we were invited to play a game of croquet, which we did--badly--Cecilia managed to whack her ball into the pond and had to go wading to get it, and then hit one of the poor dogs (10 points?) but we made a comeback at the end and only lost 4-2 to the team of Zane and her sister.

We had a lovely BBQ for dinner and watched the squash club tournament that was going on--a fairly informal affair--it seems they get together to play for fun once a week and tried out the playground a bit while avoiding the vicious mossies around here. It seems they, more than ticks, are the big concern right in the area where we are. There was a lovely sunset and the whole thing was rather relaxing and very un-cow farm!

We aren't entirely sure how it is going to play out, but we have the morning off tomorrow, anyway, which is good because we will need all of that time to scratch our stupid mossie bites! We're sitting in our little living room with wet towels on our stomachs trying to cool off and avoid adding to our bites. It seems tomorrow is meant to be a bit cooler than today, which would be nice! We're also going to use our time off to cycle to the small town 2km away from us and pick up some citronella candles or something to try and ward off the little suckers.

We're going to climb up into our super cute playroom/sleeping loft and head to bed pretty soon. I'll be working in the AM, so sadly not much of a sleep in, but it will be lovely not to be up with the cows, at any rate!


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