Easter Islands

Lieldienas, the Big Day or Easter, goes back to earlier pagan traditions. The day itself saw me feeling, let’s just say, not at my best, after the outing with Linda. My flat is also like an oven, since we don’t control our own heating here. In theory, it should be turned off when the temperature is above 8 degrees for three consecutive days. It’s been at least 12 for a week now and hit 20 degrees on Easter, yet my heating is still on, burning up money, all in the noble cause of making me feel like a melting ice cream. If the heating company, Rigas Siltums, are doing this in an attempt to market home saunas, they’re doing a good job. After a hazy late morning spent drinking juice and coffee, I was sitting listening to Night heat by Third World, thinking that that was likely to be an appropriate soundtrack for the evening ahead.

With everyone busy for Easter, I decided it was time for some fresh air and therefore headed on my first solo apkaimes trip. Salas, was one of the closest and (I thought) lesser interesting ones remaining, so grabbing my camera, I headed across the Salu Tilts, the island bridge.

Not seeing a way across, I headed across the top of the bridge itself, balancing precariously on a narrow, cracked pavement, with only a half metre high ledge separating me from the Daugava below, while cars whizzed past at top speed. The things I do for blogger credibility.

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Once or twice I nearly gave up, but kept going, heart pounding. When I got to the other side, I saw it was all unnecessary. A comfortable tunnel led under the bridge.

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So all the stress had been a waste of time.

Salas had never been high on my list of places to go to. A couple of almost uninhabited islands in the middle of the Daugava river (a population of 85 people, one person more than Riga’s smallest district, Spilve) bisected by a noisy main road…. it didn’t sound like the most happening of places. How wrong you can be.

From Zaķusala, the first of the islands, the views up, down and across the Daugava were superb. I saw my beloved Maskatchka in all its glory, spires of numerous churches glistening in the distance.

Maskavas Forstate, seen from Zakusala

Maskavas Forstate, seen from Zakusala

There were also views of Riga’s Old Town further away

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and even a mini beach, which some of the locals were taking advantage of. If they’re swimming in the Daugava, they must be brave.

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Zaķusala is, in its own right, a really nice place to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon. It’s quiet, generally clean enough and seems to be uninhabited.

Now connected by the Island bridge to the rest of Riga, it used to be connected by the Iron Bridge (Dzelzs tilts)

Iron bridge in the early 20th century

Iron bridge in the early 20th century

which was destroyed during World War 2 and never rebuilt, though its remains are still there. (Edit 4 May, there’s also the mysterious structure below further down river, which I originally thought was the Iron bridge’s remains, but, as someone pointed out in the comments, isn’t. It looks like it used to be a bridge, but there’s nothing, not even a pier, showing on historic maps.)

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The most famous structure on the island is Riga Radio and TV Tower, the highest structure in the European Union, 3rd highest in Europe and 14th highest in the world. Sadly, the observation platform was closed today.

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After walking for a while round around Zaķusala, it was time for the second and bigger island, Lucavsala. As I neared it, I found to my shock that there were loads of people there

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all enjoying the sunshine in a busy park. There were several places selling food, drinks and ice cream, with the smell of freshly grilling shashliks in the air. Naturally, I just had to indulge.

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The waitress smiled as she brought my food, checked everything was okay, asked me if I wanted another photo….is there something in the water in Riga recently? What happened to the scowls and sour faces of the past?

Lucavsala, named after a big shot landowner of the past, has people living on it in cool looking little cottages.

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Further down in Lucavsala, things get quieter, people sitting by the river, having picnics, enjoying the day or playing the most popular sport in the world.

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Hard to imagine people playing a boring and unsexy sport like ice hockey on such a nice day. The monument in the picture is a bit of a mystery though, even after getting up close, I still couldn’t quite figure out what its purpose was. General religious monument? Memorial?

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If there’s one negative it’s that locals have, yet again, treated parts of it like a rubbish tip. After walking round such a nice place, it’s really offputting to see filth like this.

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To make things worse, some people even seem to have consciously done it. I came across rubbish obviously deliberately placed on top of trees.

Latvian Modern art or local disrespect?

Latvian Modern art or local disrespect?

Doesn’t seem cool to me, especially since there are rubbish bins near the river.

At the end of Lucavsala, the uninspiring views of Kengarags beyond

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meant that I’d come to the end of the days wanderings. I headed for home, pausing for one last shot down river.

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At least I didn’t feel like I was in the circus when crossing the bridge this time. All in all, a fairly enjoyable day out. I’ll definitely be back here.

16 districts to go.

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12 thoughts on “Easter Islands

    • Thanks as always! Some of the monuments here aren’t very well labelled and there have been more so many conflicts around here, that it’s hard to identify which one it relates to. That most be one of the older monuments?

  1. Well, let’s hope the trash will be gone after 26th of April – the Big Latvian Spring cleaning when everyone cleans their surroundings and public places after long, gray winter.
    Definitely take part. If it’s organised by bigger groups there is always hot soup or grilled meat afterwards as well. For last 3 years I’ve always helped to clean the territory of Riga Childrens Hospital. You can get more info here: http://talkas.lv/?lng=en

  2. Thanks for allowing me to ‘travel’ to new places in Riga despite having lived there for the whole of my life. 🙂 Still, a small glitch – the remains of Iron Bridge (which was more commonly known as Bridge of Zemgale) can be found right next to the Railway Bridge, and, to be fair, I don’t know what the structure you took photo of is but it certainly isn’t of the pre-1960s era.

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