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Riga

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

17th May, 2015

This morning we arrived at the pilot station at the early hour of 6 am as it was a 12 mile sail upriver to our berth. We were safely moored in Riga, the capital of Latvia, at 8 am.

As soon as the ship was cleared by the local officials our passengers could proceed ashore and the tours could be dispatched.

Today’s tours were:

“Highlights of Riga” started with a drive along the boulevards of Riga city centre, passing art nouveau architecture and the symbolic Freedom Monument, crowned by a woman holding three stars representing the three regions of Latvia. During the walk through the old town our passengers viewed the Freedom Monument, the Riga Russian Theatre, the Great and Small Guildhalls, reflecting Latvia’s period as a Hanseatic City, the Swedish Gates, constructed during Riga’s period under Swedish rule in the 17th century, Parliament Building, Riga Castle, the Dome Cathedral, the Town Hall Square, 13th-century churches of St Peter and St John’s and the House of Blackheads. After this the passengers had the opportunity to sample Riga Black Balsam, Cranberry, Mokka and Allasch Kummel Liqueurs finishing with a tea or coffee before your coach returned to the ship.

“Scenic Sigulda”: Sigulda is sometimes called ‘Latvian Switzerland’. The tour drove through forest scenery with views of the River Gauja valley. It stopped at Turaida Castle with its fortification tower affording views over the picturesque landscape and the nearby 18th-century church in the castle grounds, together with the grave of the Rose of Turaida, heroine of a 17th-century love story. Next stop was Gutmana Cave, a sandstone cave named after the healer Gutmanis. After arriving at Sigulda the passengers viewed the ruined 13th-century Sigulda Castle and 19th-century Kropotkin’s Manor house. After lunch the coach returned to the ship after a tour of Riga’s main attractions.

“Scenic Riga and Canal Boat Ride” tour started with a leisurely boat tour along the charming city canal on a small wooden boat enabling our guests to enjoy Riga’s marvellous layout, with its breathtaking buildings, wonderful parks and boulevards. After the one hour boat ride our passengers then embarked on a drive through the modern part of the city passing The Jazeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Music, the Central Railway Station, the Council of Ministers and the main business street in Riga “Brivibas”. Other highlights included Park Esplanada, the Academy of Art and the State Museum of Fine Arts. From here the tour went through Old Riga to see the interesting highlights there before returning to the ship.

“Riga Panoramic” began with a drive through the old town. From here the coach crossed the bridge into modern Riga for a spectacular panoramic view of the Old Town before returning to the centre to view yet more highlights.

“Resort Town Jurmala & Open Air Museum”: In Latvian, Jurmala means 'seaside' and this 20-mile stretch of seashore has been a popular Baltic spa resort since the late 19th century. Typical of Jurmala are the charming wooden summer cottages dating back to the late 19th and early 20th century which sit alongside later summerhouses and spa health centres. Our passengers enjoyed their walk through this charming town before rejoining the coach for a drive to the Open Air Museum. Established in 1970 as a folk museum of fishermen, exhibits include authentic fishermen farms with their characteristic buildings of the 19th to 20th century including living houses, barns, net sheds, and a fish smoking house. A collection of boats and anchors, along with the biggest collection of ropes in Latvia, can be found here.

For passengers who wanted to explore Saaremaa independently there was a shuttle bus that ran between the ship and the Old Town. An extra attraction today was a local full marathon run by those of all ages and abilities, which gave an extra buzz to this charming town.

All on board was at 7.30 pm. Soon after we let go of the lines, left the berth, swung the ship 180 degrees and took the ship down river to the pilot station, where we disembarked the pilot and set course for our next port of call, Warnemunde. The evening started with Crime and Cocktail Hour in the Britannia Lounge, cocktail hour in Cooper’s Bar with Martin Orbidans at the piano and in the Drawing Room where The Perfect Mood Duo played music for dancing. After dinner the Britannia Lounge featured a performance by Multi-Instrumentalist Anne Rayner performing her “Music and Dance Around the World”.

Captain Kees Spekman

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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