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Europe » Latvia » Riga Region » Riga October 1st 2013

Sorry, no easy train connection between Vilnius and Riga, so we took the nearly four hours easy ride on a bus. Lux Simple sell tickets for 3 euros per person one way...if you book into the first 5 seats...I did, and it was dirt cheap for a pretty comfortable bus. We would do the same for the 4 hours ride between Riga and Tallinn....but this time, on top of it, for the same three euros...we would receive complementary wifi...not bad! I didn't even noticed the border...well, I was looking for it...but didn't see it till we passed the first petrol station and saw the change of currency. Latvia will switch to the Euro in 2014, Lithuania only in 2016...and for Estonia, it was done two years ago. This time, I don't have any proper frequent hotel ... read more
Old Town
Tourist season is over...
We slept...across the river...

Europe » Latvia » Riga Region September 18th 2013

Riga, Latvia Loved this place. The pictures will give you an idea of what a joy it was to spend 10 days here. It was surprising to trade 2 US dollars for 1 Lat. This city is large enough to get lost in and spend an unplanned day wandering the streets without a plan, but small enough to cover in 2-3 days if you are in a crazy rush.... read more
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Europe » Latvia » Riga Region » Riga August 25th 2013

I haven't written anything for a while now, I guess now that I am in Vilnius I should do a quick update on the rest of the organic farm stay as well as my three nights in Riga. Well the rest of the farm stay was interesting and relaxing. It was so interesting staying with a family and observing cultural differences which were more prominent than I expected. Marju was really busy the first day I was there and then the next few days was sick with an infection so she was pretty quiet towards me which I understood but after a few days I kind of felt a little unwelcome. At mealtimes conversations were pretty minimal and mostly in Estonian then when people finished their meal they would just leave the table and go watch ... read more

Europe » Latvia » Riga Region » Riga August 19th 2013

In the middle of August, my friend Hetty spent a long weekend in Riga. We arrived there on a Wednesday night, Hetty had flown in from Munich and I from Hamburg. It was perfect timing, and we started our long weekend that we had both been looking forward to with a nice glass of wine in the hotel bar. This was a kind of curious experience. We wanted a glass of red wine each, Cabernet Sauvignon, to be precise. The bar tender said he was sorry that the wine was not cold – which of course was perfectly fine for us. Who drinks cold red wine?! Then he started opening a bottle of white wine and I had to tell him that we actually wanted RED wine. But finally, we got what we wanted and enjoyed ... read more
Cathedral
Livu Laukums
Chocolate & liqueur shop

Europe » Latvia » Riga Region » Riga July 31st 2013

Day 77 – Riga - Latvia Bus bus bus bus. Sigh! Another border crossing which wasn’t as long as the one getting into Russia but still long enough. Eventually we get to Riga in the arvo and our tour leader takes as on a walking tour of the Old Town. I really like Riga. Everything is cheap and in walking distance. We had a group dinner which was delish and headed to a Kiwi Bar to party the night away. It was a great night. Good opportunity to mingle with people you don’t usually speak to. Courtney and I developed Essex accents as the drinking continued and had a bit of fun with that. A lot of photo bombing and posing going on too. Fun fun. Day 78 – Riga A lovely ... read more

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Europe » Latvia » Vidzeme Region » Cesis July 23rd 2013

On Monday we rented a car in Riga and headed east. I was enjoying the scenery when ahead of us on the far side of the road a blue ball of light blazed outwards. Thoughts of aliens and superheroes flashed through my mind in the seconds it took for Keith to mention that the top of a tree had splintered off and fallen across the power lines. Sure enough, as we neared the spot, having slowed considerably, there were leaves and bits of branch scattered across the road. I was surprised it hadn't started a fire. We continued on to Segulda - an attractively laid-out town - and looked around the Livonian Order castle ruins and the New Sigulda Castle, which was more of a stately home, built by Prince Kropotkin in the early 20th century. ... read more
Turaida Castle
Folksong park
Folksong park

Europe » Latvia » Riga Region » Riga July 20th 2013

We can see the top of the Latvian Academy of Sciences Building from our hotel room. The building, a reminder of Latvia's long occupation by the Soviets, was built in 1958-60 using the Stalinist style of the 7 sisters in Moscow. From the top of this monument of soviet occupation one gets a panoramic view including Riga Central Market. The UNESCO world heritage site is the largest market and bazaar in Europe and was built from 1924-30. The main structures are 5 pavilions constructed by re-using old German Zeppelin Hangers made redundant after WWI. The smell in each of the 5 pavilions advertises its wares, one smells of of fish, one of meat, one of freshly baked bread, and yet another of cheese. Outside the pavilions there is a sweet-smelling flower market. Latvia declared independence in ... read more
Latvian Academy of Sciences
Urban renewal
Meat market

Europe » Latvia » Riga Region » Riga July 20th 2013

We had an uneventful 4.5 hour bus journey to Riga, Latvia - straight through the border this time - all the old border buildings are disused and looking rather sad. The scenery was pretty much the same as from St Petersburg - grain crops, forest and a few cows. Riga is quite a large city and the suburbs had large blocks of 1950 - 60s apartments - not at all attractive, and probably built by the Soviets to house the Russians they invited to live there then. The city centre was quite different - some buildings were really old, others built during a building boom of the 1900s when Art Nouveau was the fashion, and further out more modern buildings since independence around 1990. Riga is more of a mix in the Old Town, but interesting ... read more

Europe » Latvia » Riga Region July 18th 2013

Arriving in Riga (population 706,000), after Moscow (population 10 million), is like taking off tight pants (or trousers for our British readers). You don't realize how much you are holding in until you don't need to anymore. Don't get me wrong. Moscow is interesting and worth visiting. Hearing what the people were told about the west wanting to take over the world is eye-opening. Gone are the old ladies queuing to buy bread or cabbages before they run out. The stores are modern and their shelves are full. The people like to dress up and go out and certain establishments have dress codes. Keith was denied access to the Radisson resturant wearing his below-the-knee shorts. Maybe it was the English-style shoes and socks ensemble. It's a vibrant city with plenty to see even without viewing the ... read more

Europe » Latvia » Kurzeme Region » Ventspils July 17th 2013

Ventspils is a very small town. I liked it because I could ride the bike around it in a few hours. My watch was over at 7:30 in the morning so there were very few people around when I started riding.... read more
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