Latvia .:. Класс языковой подготовки Англикана .:. город Орел
 

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Latvia
Статьи и Обзоры
04.06.2012 22:14

The first thing that comes to the mind of a person aged between 30 and 40 is that one of the former Baltic Republics of the former USSR is famous for a hostile attitude to Russians, its Gothic splendor and a popular alcoholic drink – Riga's Black balsam.

Myths and Reality

Before my trip to Latvia I couldn't stay indifferent to my friends' remarks about nationalism. People who never visited the country but read about it and listened to the central channels' news advised me to pretend to be anybody but a Russian, which meant “no Russian conversation whatsoever...” My parents, who admire “the former Soviet zagranitsa”, were in no hurry to comment on my future trip, but told me numerous anecdotes about shop-assistants who didn't turn a hair when asked, rude waiters who didn't stir a finger to make their restaurants a cozier place to stay in, strangers in the streets who showed contempt when Russian speech was heard. Burdened with all this knowledge I made up my mind to keep to English, smile and never ask for help. But what happened actually turned everything upside down, as I experienced what might be called a cultural shock. After 5 minutes on their territory it became evident that almost everybody is willing to speak Russian which is much better from a linguistic point of view than English as not everyone knows the global tongue. Russians are not enemies or invaders, but wanted guests who are welcome to any museum, cafe, shop or any place come to that. Service is Russian friendly, polite and stylishly correct.

The country

I was lucky to come to Latvia for the 1st time in October to see the rich gamut of natural colors and shades in the open. The country is picturesque with breathtaking landscapes, old castles and their ruins in the transparent air, little towns with paved streets, clean and neat old buildings. In spite of the fact that Latvia considers itself to be part of Europe (and it is) it still suffers from the purely Russian diseases: bad roads, poor road service (especially in winter) and neglected suburbs.

Atmosphere

Generally I was surprised by a much slower tempo of life, serenity of streets, absence of shocking news on the radio and TV channels and the sober gravity of understanding the fact that the state isn't economically independent. Gas and oil are to Russia is what tourists are to Latvia.

Landmarks and symbols

The most impressive places to see in Latvia are castles of 12-14 centuries and undoubtedly “Old Riga”. Bronze sculptures of animals, black cats on the roofs, original ensembles of houses, Gothic cathedrals, narrow drives are sure to create a romantic mood. Amber and silver souvenirs, chocolate sweets, good wine and coffee add some more festivity.

Latvia is beautiful and positive though our common past sometimes gives way. Young people under 20 don't speak Russian and the gloomy building of one of the most notorious museums is just in the center of Riga.

© V. Golovko, 2012

 

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