Galerija Rīga is one of my favourite haunts.  It is about a ten minutes walk from where I live and is a beautiful shopping mall set on six floors. The shops are beautiful too, but most are a bit too expensive for my pocket, but on a cold dark winter’s night I love spending time there. I sometimes use it as a short cut on my way back from town, and such was the case the other day when I was met with an amazing sight! I know I must have looked stupid. There I was, a woman of a certain age standing stupefied, with a massive smile on my face and looking as excited as a small child in a sweetie shop.

What was the object of this undignified behaviour? The sight of a VW van in the middle of the concourse inside the shopping mall!  What memories it brought back of childhood holidays spent travelling around the UK with my parents and small brother. Despite the need to brave the rigours of a British summer, usually characterised more by rain than sunshine, we led this outdoor, semi-nomadic existence for two or three weeks each year journeying to Scotland or Cornwall, or wherever the mood took us.  When I look at a VW Campervan these days I wonder how four people ever managed to fit into such a small space, and I do recall sitting bolt upright on my little bed on more than one occasion with a bout of claustrophobia. That said, the whole experience has not seriously damaged me. One of the major items on my Bucket List is a desire to travel around the UK in a Campervan, although maybe not the now iconic VW.

There was another reason for the smile. The ingenuity, inventiveness and creativity I’ve found in Latvia never ceases to amaze me and here I was faced with yet another example of this form of national genius. Who on earth was the quirky individual who had even had the idea of turning an old clapped out VW into a travelling coffee bar? Not only that, how on earth had he convinced the management of the Galerija to allow him to install it in the concourse? Such were my thoughts as I went on my way, smile still in place, childhood memories revived, and full of the joy of living in this amazing city, always so full of surprises.


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