We arrived in the morning, the weather was great and we started walking towards our hotel. As we didnt have a map we asked some people in the street who were extremely helpful, trying to communicate with hands and feet and some english, and thanks to them we easily found our hotel. The room at the Jacob Lenz Guesthouse was nice, clean and big and we left our luggage to go have a look at the town.
Riga is the capital of Latvia, has over 700 000 inhabitants and is situated on the coast of the Baltic Sea. It is the largest city in the Baltic states and its Historic Centre has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also famous for its extensive Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) architecture, comparable in significance only with Vienna and Saint Petersburg.
The first thing we did was walk straight through the city to the train station to by the tickets to St.Petersburg. We had some slight difficulties but nothing worse than expected. From there we walked around the Old Town, just strolling around, getting to know the place a little better. At 18.00 we met up with Kerstin (my aunt) and Ann-Britt a friend of hers. They were in Riga for a couple of days and had just been to a Spa to get some manicure and such. Together we went to the Skyline Bar on the 26th floor of the Reval Hotel Latvija (fancy pancy hotel). We had some drinks and among other things tried out the Black Mojito made with the local "Balsam" liquor (like Jaegermeister). The views over the city were spectacular as was the sunset. Later we went for dinner at the Slavu Restaurant (typical food) in the Old Town. The food was expensive, dry and tasteless. The best thing was the blankets we got, so we could sit outside!
Then we went for more drinks at Velvet, popular with tourists and the nouveau rich. We sat at the door so we didnt see the gogo dancers until at closing (2.00 am) some girl came walking by our table in her underwear and we didnt know what to think!
The next day (6th) we had breakfast at the hotel and then we went to meet Kerstin and Ann-Britt again just, to have coffee and say goodbye. We did some more sightseeing, some parks, the Dome Cathedral, St.Petersburg Church, House of Blackheads, lots of medieval architecture and Art Nouveau buildings.
In the afternoon we also went to the Central Market, originally built as a series of Zeppelin hangers during WWI. We bought some fruit and enjoyed watching people. We went to a cosy tea house right in Vermanes garden where we sat among the cushions and rested for a while. In the evening we went to the cinema and saw the Bourne Ultimatum which was not too great.
We strolled around some more and then finnished off with dinner at the great restaurant DaDa with interiors inspired by the Dadaism.
On the 7th we slept long and then went to the Occupation Museum, dedicated to the Nazi and Soviet occupations of Latvia. The various exhibits display the atrocities committed against the people of Latvia and the systematic destruction of their nations sovereignty. After about two or three hours there we went on a lunch break at the Medieval restaurant Rozengrals. Excellent food and atmosphere! We then spent another hour at the Occupation museum again before going to a cafe and then to an internet cafe. We had dinner closer to our hotel, at Kaptaina Enrico(?) which had great food, better service and a very nice vibe. It also had some very random swedish decore, a hockey shirt from Brynas and a poster for Husqvarna chainsaws...
Today is the last day in Riga and we will just take it easy, write some mails and get ready for the long trainride to St.Petersburg (12.5 hours with the night train). Wish us luck!
Lots of hugs,
Fredrik and Sabrina
PS. Have a look in a couple of days to see the photos.