Sunday, October 31, 2010

Three Museum Sunday

Gaining an hour by setting the clocks back last night, put some extra energy in our step. We thought we would get in to see the Lutheran churches today thinking they would be free for services. All of the Lutheran churches charge to enter even to just view them calling it "Helping our mission"; alternatively the Catholic churches let you in for free. How is that for a turnabout? No such luck though with the Lutherans. We must have tourist pouring out of us. Even the Lutheran service in English, which we were twenty minutes late for, wanted to charge us an entry fee. God is a mercenary or hires them. 

After church checking, we went to the Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts. We by-passed the special exhibition of fashion, choosing the permanent collections. On the third floor, I was in heaven. It was primarily fiber art: weavings, some leather work, some ceramics, but it is the weaving that I could spend hours looking at. I love examining the weft and warp, wondering what techniques the weaver used. 

The next stop was the Sun Museum. It all started with one  little sun necklace bought by the museum owner while in Portugal. She decided that since the sunshine is in short  supply in this country, she would collect it from other places and bring it home with her. Soon her collection of suns increased as her job took her to different countries. Friends noticing the collection added to it. Finally, she had no space left in her apartment for added pieces to her collection. This gave her the idea to open what she believes is the only Sun Museum in the world. Displaying suns in all their forms, from clocks to religious symbols, each is carefully labeled as to which country it has arrived from. What is sadly lacking are suns from any of the Latin American countries except Mexico

At the end of the tour, yes, the young docent Daina gives a thorough explanation of many of the suns, but she then sends you down to the craft room. Given a choice of three ceramic suns, you choose one and then decorate it with tempera paints; they dry quickly. For thirty minutes or more regardless of your age, you are transformed into a child once again concentrating on the work at hand. Ron wanted to leave them behind, but secretly I was afraid we would have to show Daina our work before leaving so played it safe by keeping them. 

We did this in the incorrect order. Our last museum was the Museum of the Occupation. This follows the occupation of Latvia through the years 1940-1991 when they were controlled by the Soviets and the Germans. The exhibits were enthralling, causing us to read 90% of everything the museum provided before sensory overload set in and caused us to end it. This museum runs on donations only. As we were leaving, Ron asked the young man working there what the population of Latvia was now. It is 2.2 million, with 700,000 living in Riga. During the highlighted period of the museum's mission the country lost 1/3 of their population to kidnapping, deportation, death for minor crimes, and as war victims. Imagine, this entire country has the population of Houston, Texas. Incredible!!

This called for some walking around to clear our mental palates. Once we shed some of that emotional baggage, but not forgetting the horrors man can deliver to man, we ventured back to the hotel. I blogged, Ron read. We decided on dinner. 

Strange as it may seem, we had our fill of Latvian food, so went for Japanese tempura. I know tourists to Budapest come with a gung-ho attitude of trying everything Hungarian, but fizzle out after 3-4 days. Same here. After a nice dinner in an empty restaurant, we wandered toward the hotel, but a coffee seemed in order. There is a clear tent in one of the squares that has a restaurant and live entertainment. We went there, because they had heat lamps, but the music turned out to be great also. 

Jack-o'-lantern on HalloweenImage via WikipediaAs we traipsed back, Ron was anxious to find people in costume since it is Halloween. Though we were told it is not a holiday here, some clubs may be holding parties. It is curious that we have seen so many pumpkins carved into Jack-o-Lanterns, yet they have not incorporated the other customs. Maybe that will change with time; we did see some youth with half-hearted costumes and face make-up. I miss Halloween the most of all holidays.

Tomorrow it is home again and back to my kids come Tuesday.
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