Sunday, March 01, 2009

Bus Ride on Brivibas

You can still see the marks the boom years left on Riga. It's a city built of wood, then concrete, then glass: Scandinavian banks, Japanese car showrooms, interior design stores, edge-of-town retail parks, flash cars, supermarkets, a mobile phone company office showing a temperature of minus four, five-storey blocks with graffitied exteriors, tram tracks, factory chimneys, a man dressed in fur letting his dog piss on a wall, smokers on the pavement outside a sports hall, old women shuffling into a bakery, their feet barely clearing the ground.

It's a completely different story at the Latvian Ethnographic Museum, where over a hundred wooden buildings from all over the country have been reassembled in a pine forest on the banks of Lake Jugla. There's a 16th century church with someone's initials half-heartedly etched on the door, three huge windmills, and a fortress-like German warehouse moved piece by piece from Liepaja port. I crunched around in the snow for two-and-a-half hours, mostly on my own, with only my camera, icicle fingers and a woodpecker or two to keep me company.

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