After a couple glorious days in Riga, I’m off again. Next Stop? Vilnius, Lithuania. What awaits me there? Who knows . . . but isn’t that the point?
Category Archives: Latvia
What a difference a day makes! My second day in Riga started off pretty bleak. The sky was overcast, and the weather was cool. I had to wrap up in a couple of layers because I didn’t have the proper outerwear to combat the chill.
Despite this inconvenience, I still joined the walking tour to get a better sense of the city. The tour took us through the Central Market, which is partly housed in old zeppelin hangars. Here you can find fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry and fish, bread, cakes, clothes and souvenirs.
We took a walk through an area of town that was heavily controlled by the Soviet Union after World War II. During that time, a large number of Soviets came to Latvia, and today, Russian is the second most common language in Riga after Latvian.
The tour took us by the Freedom Monument and the National Opera House. The monument stands in honor of the soldiers who died during the Latvian War of Independence in the early 1920s. We also visited St Peters Church in the Old Town.
By the end of the tour, I felt like I knew the city a lot more. It is beautiful despite some of the horrible things it has endured. Its people have survived and thrived in the face of difficult conditions. But, it still remembers its past and uses it to succeed in the future.
After an uneventful (the best kind) bus ride from Tallinn, I arrived in Riga before lunchtime. The bus station was located in an industrial-looking area, but just across the way I could see the beginnings of the Old Town. After crossing a huge boulevard using underground tunnels, I managed to blindly pick the right road and find my hostel.
Unlike the Estonian hostel, this one was modern with simple decor and an almost minimalist design. I liked it. It was also really clean, and the room was spacious. After settling in, I picked up a map from reception and got online to check out the town. As usual, I did just enough research to get from the bus station to my hostel. After that, I planned to wing it from there.
After about an hour, I decided to head out to see the city. With the sun shining and a brisk wind blowing, it was a perfect day to explore a new city on foot. As I wandered through the cobblestone streets of the Old Town, I was amazed at how the old buildings towered above me, even after being bombed during World War II. The work to reconstruct the damaged buildings and keep the old style is incredible.
I also enjoyed the mix of green spaces throughout the city, which provided a nice retreat from the bustling tourist crowds. Although Riga is no London in terms of tourist foot traffic, it still seems to get its fair share of people around the shops. I have also heard that Riga is a mean place to party, if you’re into that kinda thing.
Taking a dining suggestion off my map, I had lunch at a small cafeteria-like restaurant serving authentic Latvian food. Don’t ask me what I ended up eating. It was one of those point and smile situations. I was charged by the amount of food selected so it was a pretty cheap meal in the end. The place seemed to be very local with lots of working people on their lunch breaks. I think I was just about the only foreigner in the place. Interestingly enough, practically everyone had a glass of milk with their lunch. Is this a thing in Latvia?