A day of Riga

Let's take trip back in time...about two and a half months, not very long, the geographic distance makes up for proximity. 

Friday, May 21st, 2010 - Riga, Latvia

The yummy breakfast was made better with a plan to walk to the market square with Beth, Faith, and Anna.  Michael was going to join but he missed our rendezvous in the lobby - I lost the vote so we left thinking he'd gone ahead.  Well, the market only held our attention past the cherries and strawberries (which were suspiciously mushy) so we headed out of the hot sun to a shaded park by the canal near the round tea house; the mosquitoes attacked our bare legs and feet.  Missing home but disliking the scenario's similarities to a Minnesota summer, we left the feast (in which we were the main course) and headed to the City Hall for the great water closet and native shops beneath the building - I found a pretty woven cloth string. 

We moved along the old walking tour route to the "Three Brothers" landmark near the brass band trio, and still tired from the sun we glided into a small wooden and stone crafted store, Linen & Pearls, to buy post cards, etc.  I love the streets, filled with music and flower, literally around every corner.  I will admit that I have been romanced by lily-of-the-valley and its sweet soft smell, bringing with it a new appreciation of the line in "Not One Sparrow" by William Hawley...

"Not one sparrow is forgotten,

E'en the raven God will feed;
And the lily of the valley
From His bounty hath its need.
Then shall I not trust Thee, Abba,
In Thy mercy have a share?
And through faith and prayer, my Father,
Merit Thy protecting care?"

Heading back to the main square for more watercolors, Beth entertained us with her strikingly hilarious New York accent (or was it Boston?).  Oh dear, my Russian is getting rusty.  I loved it though. I much prefer this carefree women's day to that of constant "touring" and sight seeing.  In my experience "sight seeing" is best done in pairs of similar friends while non-agenda days are great with more. 

Anna led us down "Elizabete iela" to a fun cafe "All Cappuccino" and we sipped coffee (peach juice for me) with Ashlea and Chris who joined us.  What a warm day - my feminine insecurities rose with the temperature - I'd like to blame it on fluctuating hormones, but I think that's a stretch ;)

We made it back in time fr a lunch/dinner at the hotel and Shawn told me about his fantastic German adventure with Kurt.  We changed for our concert at the Riga Dome and loaded the buses.  Let's just say the cathedral was very, very high.  It was filled with rich ornate stained glass windows (what cathedral isn't), a massive organ, and directed by a musician that loved Jesus. 

Outside our first concert was celebrated with a lovely but suffocating choir huddle and meet & greet with the concert attendees.  I chatted with Mary, an English teacher from Belarus - her pupils (no, not her eyes) excitedly handed our friends their cameras for pictures with us. I say thank you, Jesus, for that concert.

Shawn, Kurt, Biz, Michele, Anna and I decided to return to the round tea place in the park but met an American street evangelist - rather abrasive but intriguing - he is bold to proclaim Christ.  I'd have to say, however, that the million dollar bill with Bible verses on it wasn't personally convincing. Part of me was glad to see a brother on the streets proclaiming like a prophet but the other part of me was irritated, offended and belittled. His heavy condemnation/conviction strategy needed some grace seasoning. Then I thought, well, shouldn't I feel this way? Don't all preachers do this - get under your skin - push you to go deeper, give more of your soul? Be a witness? ... Nope, he was challenging but he was pushin' it.

Well, after that experience, we found out that the tea lounge was closing so we walked to another one across from St. Peters' and right past the guitar, violin trip from the night before.  Needless to say, we parked our kiesters on the curb and sat down for a listen

Inside the shop we ordered our tea (rooibos for me) and cakes to eat, all six, on a round lounge pillow seat with mini table included - Middle Eastern melodies chanted in the background.  Oh, we tried to look normal when ordering but the barista was merciful to our broken Latvian and full, clanging laughter. 

The walk back was pleasant - including the McDonald's stop (Latvian McDonald's have yummy Wisconsin style breaded cheese balls, who knew?) and walk up to the flower market street.  Riga is so full of night life and music on the streets.  Anna and I have stayed up too late journaling! Oh, I forgot, a thirty something European man asked us to get drinks before the concert, we offered a polite, yet mildly terrified, "no, thank you".

Good night.

Excerpt from the binding-is-almost-broken journal of Shasta Feltman