|Across the Daugava is the Latvian National Library designed by Gunnar Birkerts. Beyond that, the embassy.|
We left all our electronics: cameras, iPads, etc. in the security building and then walked down a path to a larger building where we again went through security. We filled out paperwork and submitted it. Paid for our temporary passports (which for no extra charge we can renew for the full 10 years). We waited again, then were called for an interview. Finally, we could meet the man who got us out of the airport. Evan, the consul.
Our interview was conducted from opposite sides of a glass barrier, like what you'd experience when visiting a prisoner, except with a slot to pass paperwork back and forth. Evan told us that ours wasn't an unusual situation for a traveler to be in. Lots of people don't know about the 90-day rule. What was out of the ordinary was that we were allowed into the country. Why? He said it largely had to do with the fact that after being ignored by the airline and then bringing attention to the airline and airport in a way that didn't reflect their images in a positive way, the people running things must have decided they should find a way to let us leave (not to mention the weather).
Evan wasn't the first person to tell us that if we were from another country trying to get into the United States and didn't meet the requirements, we would have never been allowed in. After spending just over a day in Riga, we were even more grateful that people in the Latvian border security and Evan had made it happen. We had a good chat with Evan who has served at embassies in more difficult outposts, including Tajikistan. (I would have liked to hear more about that!) Finally, with new passports signed and Important Paperwork (which I carried with me at all times during the remainder of the trip) in hand, we thanked Evan and the guards and then left the compound.
We had another couple days to explore the city before heading to the countryside. As wind continued to blow and large raindrops fell, we climbed on a bus headed back toward Old Riga and the Central Market.
|The five arch-shaped buildings make up Riga's Central Market (the one of the far left is perpendicular to the others). They are made from old German zeppelin hangars.|
|It's easy to get turned around in Old Riga.|
|Sunny in Old Riga.|
|The column in the center is the Freedom Monument. Left of the tall building is the Russian Orthodox church (notice the covering over the dome) and right of the tall building is Old St. Gertrude's, mentioned in an earlier post. (That tall hotel looks really out of place!)|
(Sept 23, 2013)