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July 24th 2003
Published: July 24th 2003
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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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2nd May 2004

Old Town Hostel Backpackers
Great to know I facilitated a good stay for you by staying at my Backpackers. Please be aware that I now own Old Town Hostel Backpackers so when you come back to Riga make sure you come and see us.
12th April 2007

You can not buy the gun in Latvia without being citizen and having a special permission. You can only buy gas gun (blank firing loaded with tear gas) if you are 18 years old, and that was what you've seen. Obviously you don't need a shooting range for gas guns. You could also buy a soft air pneumatic weapon for the same price, but it can not be used for self defense. Gas gun costs from about 35 GBP to 300 GBP while real guns may cost 350 GBP and more. What you've called "A church" is in fact Russian Orthodox Christian cathedral, orthodox Christianity is not the main religion in Latvia, the #1 are Lutherans and you can see a big Lutheran church in the picture you called "Old Town". Also a factual error - there are only 0.9 million people live in Riga. And with 2.5 million of total country population it really looks big. The fact you've visited the museum of occupation is funny. It was a real waste of your time. There is a small museum in the heart of Riga (inside the Dome Cathedral) where you could see really interesting things. It is called "Museum of history and maritime" if I remember right. Visit it when you'll get old and will go on your final world tour. For your information, museums of occupation are pieces of cold war between countries. In Latvia and Ukraine such museum shows fantasies about Russian monsters. In Northern Ireland this could be a grief story about English atrocities. I believe every weak nation must have such museum. But it's just my humble opinion :)
23rd September 2010

latvia in europe
Latvia has many place to see such a Riga is a beautiful capital and major tourist attraction place. Tourist loves to visit the Dome Cathedral's building which has a blend of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance style. Some of the place are costly like climbing on the spire of St Peter's Church for a panoramic view of the city or maybe sip some champagne in the Skyline Bar on top of the Reval hotel are a perfect view of the city. http://www.europevoyage.net/getting-introduced-to-latvia.html

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