As I might have mentioned earlier in the trip, it is turning out that I am more engaged in learning about what we are seeing than in a long time. I think this is so primarily because I want to record and report the monuments and history correctly equally for ourselves as well as anyone who might be reading and because we are traveling by ourselves and not passively with a tour.
The pace of the trip is grueling and the driving although very interesting wears. I am sore and everything hurts. Part is just tension.
For most of the trip we have been on narrow two lane roads that freeze during the winter and are not maintained like we in the US expect. People here drive very fast and it is dangerous and passing protocols vary from country to country.
Bob and I have fallen into a rhythm of cooperation and sharing the photos of the day, mutually determining what and what not to post. The mechanics of
posting still are mine since Bob does not know the program which is fine with me. When we first began blogging was a major lesson in Buddhist humility. letting go of self judgment and criticism. The other major life lesson is that we are both showing and feeling our age. It is painful and sad to see in each other the mirror of our own reduced stamina and agility.
Today’s drive to Riga took us through beautiful rolling hills of lavender, mustard and various grains bouned by forest tracks. Today’s stretch of Lithuania to Riga appeared very prosperous except in the high rise clusters of decrepit Communist era apartment complexes. It seems that this is where the retirees from the former Soviet era are now housed and living out their lives. As soon as one is able, one escapes these concrete hovels if it can be accomplished.
In Riga, it as if we are in the middle of decorations on an enormous, deliciously rich and elaborately decorated wedding cake–frosting, frills and gorgeous colors. Gothic, spread on some “Neo” Baroque and then just go crazy with layering on Art Nouveau. Riga is designated a World Heritage site of their Art Nouveau district separately from the historical section. I was thinking that we might experience Swedish simplicity as an anecdote when we learned that Riga was a Swedish city in the late Middle Ages.
In the moment, the young people in all the major Baltic cities are healthy, vibrant and very fashionable. They are taking New York and European styles to the very edge. Bob is loving it.