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Dreaming of Latvia

Jun 04, 2014

Dear TBT,

Since the Baltics States joined the EU, my curiosity regarding the region was piqued: who were the newest arrivals to our European neighborhood? What were they like? With a significant populations Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians adorning our shores, I thought it only opportune to visit theirs.
After much too long a delay, I was delighted to be able to coordinate my first visit to the Baltics with Riga’s tenure as European Capital of Culture. To describe the Capital of Culture program as anything but impressive is to do it a great disservice.

My enjoyment of the program brought me to all corners of Riga’s equally impressive old town. Its architecture, its service staff, its celebratory aura all transcended my expectations.
I was surprised too by the number of visitors and tourists with whom I appreciated Riga’s historic center, and the extent to which it appears its infrastructure and perhaps character has changed in recent years to accommodate the increasing numbers of tourists, a number among which I count myself.

As a committed reader of The Baltic Times, I have had the distinct pleasure of digesting, with relish, Mike Parr’s reports from the Lightning Tree Farm in Aluksne. Parr’s descriptions of life in the countryside display an essential side of Latvian culture – making cheese, tending to his farm.
It is my distinct hope that in parallel with successes of Riga’s curation of European Capital of Culture, that Latvia’s cultural decision makers not lose sight of the importance of cultural insights perpetuated by Mr. Parr.

Jean Tarraf
Dorset, United Kingdom
 

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