We arrived in Riga with wonderful sunshine. Our initial wander round to see what the centre was like took in parks, grand squares and our first Russian Orthodox church. Like many of these churches, the inside was a restoration after the communists gutted all religious buildings and repurposed them for other uses, such as the Synagogue which became a warehouse. The outside of the buildings was almost all original though, as Riga has a preference for building new things as opposed to resurrecting the past.
One thing we like to do is visit libraries, even though we don't expect to understand many of the books. We find it comforting to know that the locals have access to a good range of books and they are often a beautiful, free and overlooked attraction. The National Library of Latvia is really stunning, with beautiful views of the old city and contains bookcases towering up from the ground floor right to the tenth.
Riga also has a number of free museums that we tried out. The National History museum is very large and has a wide range of exhibits, including a stuffed pink fairy armadillo that is definitely not native and is over 100 years old. The Museum of Occupation was an eye opening account of a country having gained independence in 1918 only to be occupied three different times (Russia, Germany and then Russia again) before regaining their sovereignty. The Baltic Way protest is one I hadn't heard of before, where a human chain spanned the Baltic countries measuring 675km. This peaceful demonstration against an unwanted government is still inspiring today.