Dining suspended from a single cable - what fun!
16.06.2011 - 16.06.2011
Spending four nights in a city affords us the luxury of time to explore a new environment at a leisurely, even gentile pace – more so than the typical tourist. Approaching the end of our time in Riga we feel almost like locals, as we head into Old Town in search of a promised Walking Tour that will show us the less visited areas of the City. Knowingly we pass beckoning cafés and restaurants as we spend a leisurely morning wandering the now familiar winding cobble streets of the Old Town.
So it is, with some surprise as we approach Rātslaukum (near St Peter’s Lutheran Church) that we find a bright yellow crane and what cannot be described other than a dining table, suspended from a sturdy looking chain. By chance we have stumbled upon ‘Dinner in the Sky’. A unique dining experience that allows 22 participants to enjoy lunch suspended from a single cable, 150ft above the ground. In Riga for just four days and after a healthy win on the Prince of Wales Group 1 at Royal Ascot the previous day we decide to indulge. We have found our luncheon spot for the day.
When we return for our lunch, later in the day, the table is already suspended above us – filled with an earlier sitting of happy looking diners. As we await its arrival strawberries and the local herbal drink – Balsam – is served. Unfortunately, the weather is not being kind and a light rain forces us to wear bright blue waterproofs as we prepare for ‘lift-off’.
Now, returned to earth we are ready to familiarize ourselves with the tables unique dining chairs. With the appearance of a hybrid racing car seat we are strapped, in a similar manner to an fighter plane, into our seats at three points. With the ability to rotate through 180 degrees our safety briefing advises not to dangle items over the edge and to advise chef (there are three onboard) if one starts to feel ill! With cashmere rugs draped over our knees to combat the anticipated cooler air at altitude we await our ascent.
With good fortune once again upon us, the rain clears, as the crane commences the lift of its precious cargo. Twenty-two participants smile as our feet leave the ground and we are left ‘dangling’ over the now distant Rātslaukum square. At 150ft we are now level we the clock on St Peter’s, affording excellent views over the entire city. Looking down nothing impedes our view save a few electricity cables and auxiliary lines feeding the platforms power systems.
Onlookers stare upwards, aghast at this novel sight. As promised a 3 course lunch (with a rather cheeky Argentinean Malbec ) is served. Whilst somewhat secondary to the experience my salmon is cooked well, kept warm in the platforms electric operated steam ovens (naked flames are not allowed on the platform). As our lunch progresses other diners become more relaxed in their unusual surroundings, accepting that sound engineering principles are in place to avert disaster – Trey even manages a lingering glance down to the distant onlookers below.
Exclamations, smiles and picture taking are the slightly unusual topics of conversation during lunch, for the experience is certainly novel. Gently and almost unaware we return to earth after desert and a little more Malbec. Unequivocally, lunch has been a success. Slightly surreal, certainly novel enjoying lunch suspended from a single cable, where both the seats and table rotate 180 degrees – to afford all diners the perfect view – is an experience I would recommend to all budding high flying diners!
After a relatively liquid lunch a short siesta was in order before we attend a much anticipated performance of Rossini’s ‘Il barbiere di Sivigli’. Returning to the National Opera house, for the second time that week, we enjoy a spirited performance. With relatively little scenery and a backdrop that replaces the usual Seville, Spain for the bloody aftermath of the French Revolution the director has clearly decided that the Barber needs to be darker than its gifted composer ever intended.
Whilst not distracted from the efforts of the key protagonists of the piece, it does, deprive the audience of some of the typically lighter moments of operatic performance. Figaro is no longer the ‘lovely rogue’ but a callous, sinister character happy to rob and shave guillotined aristocrats. Whilst Dr. Bartolo mad, presumably from the insistent pursuit of his ward, by the Count Almaviva, is happy to commence Act Two sawing up the assumedly dead (or at the very best dying) body of a complete unknown. Yet, despite the preponderous of blood and gore 3 hours pass enjoyably as we engage with the on stage antics.
Tomorrow, we will depart for Tallinn, Estonia. Riga has been our favorite stop on the trip to date. With a diverse Old Town to explore, abundant day trips and excellent dining opportunities our relaxed exploration of this Baltic country has been most efficacious. We can but hope Tallinn holds similar pleasures.