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Published: July 24th 2003
Riga is the capital of Latvai, and the biggest city in the Baltic countries. Around 1.7 million people live in and around Riga, compared with Tallinn at 400,000. The difference in size is obvious when arriving in on the coach.
I'm staying in a backpackers (POSH), just near the bus station and outside the old town. The old town is a beautiful area of restored buildings, it doesn't have the same numbers of tourists that Tallinn had. Though there are still plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes here. Latvia is cheap - compared to the UK, and much of the rest of Europe. Prices - a pint in the bars about £1.20 - a pint of Hoegarden £1.60 - I love Hoegarden but at the £3.50 that is usually charged in English pubs I rarely drink it.
Yesterday I went with Matt (a new Aussie mate whom I've travelled down from Parnu with) to the Occupation Museum, though I screwed up and took us 3 kms out of the way heading towards the red 15 on the map. The museum was the blue 15. So we got to see some really interesting areas. The houses got more delapidated. Eventually
asking where the museum was we realised my mistake. Walking back a drunk old guy fell heavily out of a bar, I looked to see if anyone was going to help - a policeman was walking purposfully towards him, then walked straight past. I went over to check he was alright - though I didn't want to - don't speak Russian or Latvian and drunks are usually smelly and dirty. Fortunatly the waitresses from the bar came over at the same time and picked him up and put him on a bench, he does this a lot.
Matt has an insatiable curiousity - worse than mine, spotting some steps going down under a park area he went in. I followed - into a bunker with 6inch thick steel doors, and then into a gunshop come shooting range. Guns are cheap, and it looks as though you only need to be 18 to buy one (could be wrong as all the signs were in Russian). There was also a shooting range at the back, we tried to talk to the owners but our lack of Russian hampered things again.
We never got to the Occupation Museum - settled for
the history of Latvia instead, great exhibits - described soley in Latvian.
Went out drinking Hoegarden - went to a nightclub and then got back to the hostel very late. Not sure what I'll do today/tonight - but I think the Occupation Museum should be visited.
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