Riga, Latvia Opera House Visit

When architects Otto Dietze and Johann Daniel Felsko redesigned the centre of Riga in 1856, they chose one of the most exposed and significant spots in town for the new theatre: it was to be erected near the city’s canal, on the grounds of the former bastion of the city’s fortifications. In 1860, the design by architect Ludwig Bohnstedt was deemed the best of all for Riga’s new theatre. The building was opened in 1863. The great fire of 1882 destroyed the major part of the building. Riga’s chief architect Reinholds Schmaeling was in charge of the reconstruction Project which strictly followed Bohnstedt’s original design. The reconstruction, along with several improvements, was completed in 1887.

The following years saw many improvements and renovations on the original design with the most recent addition in 2001.  (taken from the LNOH Webpage)

The opera house is home to both opera and the national ballet. Our group of eleven enjoyed a narrated tour of the entire building from the stage to the high level seats in the gods, the practice rooms and the many nooks and crannies around the place. I think the guide stated this opera house is the third largest in the world. It was certainly beautiful and we enjoyed the tour immensely.  It was a welcome break from the many cathedrals and palaces we have visited.

Tour Photos (I left the best photo until last.)

The beautiful chandelier
I love the way the seats are numbered
A rack of costumes in the hallway
Mikael Barishnikov performed here
A rehearsal room.
Some ballet performers practising
The enormous stage.
The seat for officials or the Muppets.

And Last But Not Least……………………….


And LOOK!! who has the attention of the theatre!


Street Scenes St Petersburg, Russia

One of the arches in the city. There are many statues of horses in the city which I love.

Hi again- We have had a rest day today with only an hour long boat ride through the canals to the river. The river empties into the Gulf of Finland but we didn’t get anywhere near that today.  We have enjoyed the three days here. It is a beautiful city and there are many gorgeous things to see. Palaces, forts, cathedrals but everyone takes photos of those and google has far nicer photos of those than I can take.  The Hermitage museum with its five buildings is completely overwhelming and I must admit we are satiated with too much of it. I don’t think we can handle one more cathedral or one more palace.

Yesterday was a cold, rainy day as we went from place to place. We were to have gone to a folk dance performance last night but it was unexpectedly cancelled. I can’t say we didn’t love some extra rest time in the hotel.

Cold, rainy day. 

When I travel my favourite thing to do is to take pictures of people. I love street scenes. I like to see what the locals do and how they dress. I like to watch them going about their business.  To me that is what travel is all about. The locals here are a bit more reserved than many places but you can get a smile out of most of them.

It has been cold and rainy so I am sharing some street photography from our city tour on the bus we took yesterday afternoon.  There are only 11 in our group, plus Peter, our Latvian tour director who will be with us for the whole trip and Tatianna, who was our St Petersburg guide.  The group size is lovely and we all get along famously.


Enjoy some simple street scenes taken on a rainy, cloudy day through the windows of a bus.












We have seen some beautiful fall colours. 
Penguin is loving the cooler weather.


Moscow Metro

We are very fortunate on this tour as only 11 people signed up. It is a very manageable group and everyone is very compatible.  We are instant friends it seems and having quite a few laughs.

Yesterday our small group was taken underground to visit the much heralded Moscow metro stations. Each station has a different decor of art, chandeliers, sculptures and other decorations. Some are quite opulent while others are more modern. We spent more than an hour hopping off and on trains to visit several stations.  The trains are very frequent, often no more than three or four minutes apart. There are lines leaving the city plus the ‘brown’ line that is circular and goes to all of the tourist spots. Cost is about 55 cents Australian.  The train stops very quickly, doors open for only a very short period of time (Sydney train doors open for much longer). We were instructed to not all go into one door as we wouldn’t make it. The train arrived, we picked our door and jumped hurriedly on. Our guide would tell us how many stops until we reversed the process and quickly exited. I don’t know what the disabled or parents with prams do as there is next to no waiting for anyone. The trains accelerate quickly as many people are transported all over the place.

The history of the metro is extensive and interesting.  To save time I have included the Wikipedia link if you are interested. Click here if you’d like more information.

For my part I will share some of the photos I took. I hope you enjoy them.

On the way to the train station
The architecture here was beautiful
The train arrives


People watching
This was on the ceiling
One station had many stained glass windows
I loved this sculpture and as people pass it they pat the dog. You can see the wear and tear on dog’s face.
Coming and going.
The cleaning lady outside of the station. So many pigeons.
Penguin has always enjoyed trains.

Moscow Street Photography

Today, after breakfast Mr. Penguin, Friend Penguin and I left the hotel and began to explore. Here are some photos of our 90 minutes walk. Temperature was cool and pleasant. Skies were cloudy.





Loved these toys dogs in a window.
Book seller






Looking down an alleyway.


We liked this verandah.
Penguin at window
He can’t get enough of this view.


Moscow day
View from the 10th floor of hotel.

We arrived safely in Moscow. Immigration was a doddle though immigration people are very stern. They only seemed interested in asking people if they are carrying $10,000 US. They asked us how much we are carrying and we told them. They wanted to know what kind of dollars we used to transfer into rubles. We said “Australian” and they waved us through. They were definitely not interested in Australian dollars. They must know how little value they have on the world stage.  We are staying in a Holiday Inn hotel on the 10th floor. Very quiet and very friendly people.  We have today free and our friend from Florida has also arrived. Mr. Penguin has not seen her in about 35 years so big hugs all around. Last night she and I went down to the hotel restaurant and I had a bowl of dumplings and a Russian beer which was very good. My friend had borscht, very red, beetroot soup with a bit of beef in it. Mr. Penguin stayed in the room, had a cup of tea and went to bed. We were asleep by 8:30 pm as the trip was 33 hours long.

There will be no more than 20 people maximum on this tour. There could be less. An easy number to keep track of and easy to remember the names. We will meet the others tonight at the Welcome drinks. So far we have met a couple from Adelaide and there is another woman who arrived very early this morning from Brisbane. We will meet our guide tonight.

It is odd to see all of the signs around us in Russian as there is not as much English spoken here as we find in other countries where we have travelled. We are on the 10th floor of the hotel and the view out the window is quite nice. The sun rises outside of our window in the morning, lighting up the spire of the distant building. Our driver from the airport told us there are 7 such buildings spread around Moscow and they are referred to as the seven sisters.  I am sure we will learn more about these buildings. At night time the spire is lit up with green lights that really stand out in the night sky.


I am sure our learning will be on a steep curve in the coming days.  I had to laugh as I put the photo of our window view up on my facebook page last night. I wanted my family to know we have arrived safely. My sister, who lives in the San Francisco area put up a remark regarding that nation’s president and the comment was removed, neither by her nor by me. Must be the algorhythms on FB are set to exclude this man’s name. Either way, we had a chuckle about it.

The other thing I usually do when travelling is to put up the art work that hotels like to place in rooms. I like to record them . There is quite a bit of abstract art in this hotel and we have two photos in our hotel room. There is a much bigger one in the hallway on this floor by the bank of elevators.

71500013_2665857426782043_7167113043250249728_nWe’ll look forward to seeing what happens next. By the way the high temperature today is expected to be 12 degrees C (52 F).  This is definitely my kind of weather.