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Thursday, July 20, 2023: Free Day

It’s a beautiful day and we are free to explore the city of Riga. We decided on a relaxing boat ride.
Here is the Latvia National Opera. Mikhail Baryshnikov, the famous ballet dancer, was born in Riga, Latvia, and he performed here before he defected to the USA.
Enjoying the ride out on the Daugava River … are those storm clouds a brewin’?
It’s a downpour. Note the captain of the ship has left his post to batten down the hatches. First mate Rob stands at the ready
to take the wheel.
Already for half a century every Riga Port passenger is greeted by the copper sculpture “Daugava” which is also the name of the river. It is situated at the Passenger Port building on the same level as ship decks. The sculpture symbolizes the nest of a stork and a lonely bird whose fate is to accompany and await the port arrivals.
The rain stopped just as we disembarked. This was a clever idea by the Aussie bar owner.
It’s time for lunch so we walk to the Central Market. These market buildings were originally airplane hangars.
This market was a literal meat market!!
For lunch I had soup in an edible cup. It was like a handheld bread bowl. They are trying to eliminate plastic waste. I was to drink it … no spoon needed. I asked the salesmen how fast I needed to eat it. One hour!!
This building is called the House of the Blackheads. The Brotherhood of Blackheads was organized in 1410. It was a guild for young unmarried merchants, mostly from Germany. Once they were married, they joined the Great Guild which was a step from being a merchant to politics.
The Blackhead building is as big as a church. They held big parties. Musicians came from the countryside.
Here is a gathering place or meeting room.
These are the busts of world famous foreign composers: Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert, Wagner, and Brahms.
The “Town Musicians of Bremen” is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm and published in Grimms’ Fairy Tales in 1819. It tells the story of four aging domestic animals, who after a lifetime of hard work are neglected and mistreated by their former masters. Riga was a Hanseatic City along with Bremen, Germany. This statue was a 1990 gift from Bremen to Riga symbolically looking through a crack in the Iron Curtain.

The Hanseatic League was a network of traders and 200 affiliated towns and cities in central and northern Europe with the aim of promoting and protecting trade. The network originated in Germany in the mid-12th century, mainly around the Baltic Sea.

There is a ritual that people like to follow when visiting the Town Musicians statue. Rubbing the noses of the animals is supposed to bring good luck. The respective parts of the statue are already quite shiny from all the rubbing. The most athletic visitors can even reach the rooster’s beak all the way on top and will, therefore, have an extra amount of good fortune coming their way! Rob got lucky!!

This hooded crow might want to join the musicians by landing on the top of the statue.

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