European Diary: Terrace of the Melnais Kaķis (the Black Cat), Livu Laukums; 7:00 a.m.; Friday, June 4, 2004; Rīga, Latvia

S. is ill; I have continuing sinusitis and the preposterous insistence on the part of the sun to shine until the middle of the night and beyond makes sleep difficult. I’m at the café with almost seven hours of sleep versus four last night. S. is still sleeping, G-d keep her.

Late yesterday afternoon we visited the observation platform on Svētas Pētera. The cathedral itself, dating from the 13th century settlement of Rīga by the German bishop Albert, was uninspiring and we figured it was due to a botched “restoration.” It turns out it was bombed in World War II and, G-d help us, the Soviets rebuilt it. It looks like it was built by street corner day laborers – cheap brick and wretched plaster work. The Soviet influence will be felt here for decades.

Last night we attended the formal opening of the Reunion of World Latvian Jewry at the Jewish Center in Skolas iela (School Street) last night. The theatre was full of people, including Jewish association leaders from the U.S., Latvia and Israel and the U.S. and Israeli ambassadors to Latvia.

The hall was encompassed by a balcony and all the walls were cream, scarlet and gold with a large golden “MD” on the shield above the stage. It looked like a lighter version of the theatre from Terry Gilliam’s film, “The Adventures of Baron von Munchhausen.” Among the festivities later later missed, a performance by the winner of the previous year’s Eurovision Song Contest winner, Maria N., a Latvian. Yikes.

Today we are supposed to go to the Jūrmala resort at the beach but think we may need simply to rest.

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