Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Exploring Riga. More Art Nouveau.


Standing in the entryway of the Art Nouveau Museum and looking up at the spiral staircase.

From Old Town Riga, we  arrived back at the hotel and parked out front. Back to that damn ticket kiosk. I swear that thing hated me. I put in my pin and chip Visa. Punched in the end time which covered past breakfast the next day and then prayed. First try, no luck. Maybe I wasn't following the instructions correctly or maybe I was too impatient. Try again and this time.....waited to be sure every bit of a transaction was completed before initiating the next step. Ta da!! That worked. I now know what to do! Ticket in the dashboard, stuff out of the car and we're back in our room.


As tired as we were, we still had a bit of energy left in us. We had to find a place to eat our dinner. The receptionist at the Elizabete recommended we try the Flying Frog restaurant at the end of the block. We had passed by it last night and it looked like a pretty decent place though the menu didn't seem very Latvian at all. Have to admit though, we had no idea what Latvian cuisine would be like but somehow we were certain that pasta was not on the list of food items. I suggested we walk around the Alberta iela area - perhaps there would be places to eat that we had not seen on our walk yesterday.

By now, the buildings looked familiar.

One of my favorite buildings.  I love the heads with the open mouths.  I can't decide if they're scary looking or not.

So, we headed back to Alberta iela and as often happens, we stumbled upon a landmark. This time it was the Art Nouveau Museum. I had the place on my list of sights to visit and now seemed like a good time as any to venture in. I figured we would spend a few minutes visiting the place.

We headed inside and the first thing I saw was the spiral staircase. I had seen countless images of this amazing piece of architecture when I was doing my pre-trip planning. Just stunning. I tried my best to get a perfectly centered shot without actually laying on the ground and looking up!

I had Bro head up a few steps so I could have him in the photo.

There was a small entry fee to the museum which actually turned out to be a house from the period. Going through the museum meant going from one room in the house to another. Every room was furnished and decorated accordingly and even the museum staff were all dressed in period costume It was okay but I think it's one of those things where unless you are really into old buildings or Art Nouveau, it's really hard to be impressed by what you see.  The one thing that did stand out for me were the decorated ceilings and the painted walls - very Art Nouveau.

Sitting area.

Library.

Dining Room

Bedroom

Kitchen.

Bathroom.

At the end of our self guided tour, we were led in to a room to watch a short video on the history of Art Nouveau in Riga. Now, that was interesting. I don't know if we were suppose to have seen the video BEFORE we did our walk through the museum but most certainly, that would have been a good idea.

It was indeed a quick visit to the Art Nouveau Museum. I think we were in and out in less than 40 minutes. It was enough for me. Back on Alberta iela, we made our way towards the Flying Frog. Just as we reached the restaurant, I saw a familiar sight - the two squished heads of Mikhail Eisenstein's masterpieces at Elizabete 10a!   What a stunning building facade!  How this man ever came up with such a fantastical design is something I will wonder about forever.

Elizabete Iela 10a.  Just exquisite!

The famous topper with the two squished heads. 

Of course, I had to take photos so we crossed the street so I stand right in front and get head on shots. The sky was overcast and the light not so good but that didn't matter. The building facade is just stunning. The man is a truly a genius artist - I will be forever surprised that he's often labeled as a civil engineer. That may be his formal training but his artistic eye is really what comes through in the design of his buildings. 

Wow!  I've never seen design like this on the outside of a building.

Even the way the bay window is framed is stunning.

Eisentstein also designed the building next door, Elizabete 10b.  While it's not as elaborately decorated as 10a, it's also a stunning masterpiece.  These two buildings are a testament to Eisenstein's creative genius. Remarkably, there are several more buildings in the city designed by him.


Detail of a window and balcony at Elizabete 10b.

We eventually ended up at the Flying Frog and having pasta for dinner. It was a chilly night but we still insisted on sitting outdoors. Summer is about to come to an end in Riga. Like the locals, we have to enjoy the wonderful weather while we can.

On the way back to the hotel, I had to make a quick pitstop at the corner pharmacy to buy toothpaste. I had mine confiscated at Dulles airport. For some reason, I had it in my mind that I could hand carry a 4 oz tube aboard the plane but it's less than that so they took it. I will never understand this 4 oz thing - two 2.8 oz tubes ok; one 4 oz tube not okay. What the ???

Back in our room, it was the usual nightly duties and planning the next day. It was a long day today and we packed in a lot of sightseeing. I think we were both tired but looking forward to whatever tomorrow has in store for us.

Finally, relaxing at the end of the day.  Dinner at the Flying Frog.

Goodnight from Riga!