We arrived in Riga Monday night and walked through a snowy city. By Tuesday it had warmed up, morning fog hid the steeple tops and we walked through slush. The embassy district of Riga has one of the best collections of Art Nouveau buildings in Europe, built for the German merchants who ran the economic life of Riga around 1900. Michael Eisenstein, father of the Soviet filmmaker, was the architect of many of them. In Riga it’s easy to see Art Nouveau as the bridge between the empire style and art deco. The district centers around Alberta St. The district is now a World Heritage site.
There is a problem with Art Nouveau in Riga in November with melting slush. The style has balconies, protruding decoration and gargoyles. In the quick melt after a big snowstorm you need an umbrella because water drips from overhanging parts of the buildings to the sidewalk. But with so much to look at, an umbrella just gets in the way.
This is an except from October and November 2003 letters. I had planned to post it last week but decided, given the shopping mall collapse, to hold it a little while.