Arriving at sporting events, if you find yourself in another world. Especially crossing the EU border. For most of my countrymen is akin to a dream or even a fairy tale – it is not so, as we do, and want to be here and to enjoy. Although not so clear.
The first thing that caught my eye on the way from the airport in Riga, is, of course, more smooth and clean roads. However, sometimes come across them, as we do, fossa, and the sidewalks are sometimes reminiscent of country roads. And yet, compared with Kiev, there are far more cyclists – people not only in sports, but I go to them about their business. Then during a half-hour walk from the hotel to the arena I caught myself thinking that he had not met a single smoker. Of course, what they are, but at least proudly’t puffing on the stops.
In the Baltic republics really cultivate the sport and a healthy lifestyle, so the Eurobasket for locals was a real celebration. However, probably due to the mentality of mass marches on city streets is not observed – the love of sports secretive here, but self-evident thing. Except that before the matches thousands of streams of fans (definitely the trappings of teams) flow to the “Arena Riga”.
Moreover, it is noticeable that the Lithuanians and Latvians Estonians dislike that think the neighbors they are just jealous (Estonia is considered the richest of the three Baltic countries). For example, I witnessed how the fans of Latvia and Lithuania on the road to face-to-face confrontation welcomed marching after the defeat of Belgium upset the neighbors jokes: “Estonia, who won?” or “How are you?”
Here and there in the Windows of houses and shop Windows you can see the flags of the country, basketballs or symbolism hockey Riga “Dinamo”. By the way, hockey players put on their basketball home and now spend in the KHL six away matches in a row.
Near the arena staged the fan zone, but the entertainment here is two – to take a picture of a giant ball with the logo of the Eurobasket Yes to already throw this ball in the basket. And so – all crammed with tables for beer gatherings. Except that even at the entrance of the girl for 1-2 euros can decorate the face with flag of your country.
In the city centre during the matches near the monument of Freedom gathering of those who have not got tickets for the 12-seat arena. Sports amusements there is almost none – except that lined basketballs letters LV, around which all photographed. The correspondent of “Vesti” walked around the city in a t-shirt of the national team of Ukraine, feeling like a fan. Fans Baltic teams welcomed the smiles, the thumbs up and offered to be photographed. Some were interested in the life in Ukraine, shook hands and said “hold on”.
Although their problems from Latvians enough. Say, driven from the airport the taxi driver told me that the people felt pretty strongly about the decision to build a local “eighth wonder of the world” – a giant library for $300 million instead of the planned before the tunnel under the bridge over the river Daugava, which was cheaper, but the city was needed. During peak hours of traffic, including on bridges, as in Kiev, here is really terrible, in the Central streets are only two lanes in each direction – faster just to walk.
A minibus driver that guide journalists complained about his modest salary of 400 euros, with almost European prices. Though actually life here is cheaper than in Western and Central Europe. Also people are saying about the widespread problem of lack of work, because of what people are torn on the West. So a daughter the same Shuttle driver got a job in London.
Paradoxically, the driver for transportation of foreign journalists were chosen according to the best knowledge of the Latvian language. While he doesn’t know English! For all the dislike to everything in the old Soviet city on the TVs in the souvenir shops of twist footage of “17 moments of spring” and “Sherlock Holmes” – scenes of these films were filmed in the capital city of Riga.
For the author of these lines who has lived several years in Germany and the Czech Republic, now Latvia seems to be only a suburb of Europe. But, unfortunately, we are not yet Mature enough and up to this title.