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Published: July 14th 2010
July 8 - Slept well again in Grandma's house. Had a really relaxing evening. I wish I had gone to bed sooner, but it is difficult to get sleepy when it is still light out so late. I woke up at 6:30 and finished packing up and had breakfast. Said good bye to the couple who run the place and then went to the bus station. I spent the bus ride to Parnu trying to plan the rest of my trip, by adjusting my itinerary to compensate for the fact that I was ahead of schedule and that I added in a couple more places in Poland that sounded good. Poland will dominate this trip it seems. It's interesting to me that no one will look at my passport on this trip at all, as all the countries are in the same visa zone. No stamps, no notice. Weird.
Once in Parnu, I looked around for the place to buy a ticket to Riga on the 11:50am bus. It took a while but I finally got some unfriendly directions. Once in the right place, the woman told me I would have to ask the driver if he had space for
that bus. If not, the next two (evening) buses were full, possibly leaving one at 8pm. So I thought a lot of positive thoughts, wrote in my journal, talked to a weird beer guzzling smoker, and then the bus pulled up. There were at least four other people looking for a ticket as well, and I'm happy to say we all eventually got a seat. The problem was that the driver didn't have change for 500 (ticket costs 170), so I ran all around quickly to see if any of the kiosks had change. They all said no. I was basically ready to give the driver all of the money but he looked and had some change. He's missing 20, but I told him to keep it. It's about $2. Happily, there is also internet on this bus, though I seem to have lost connectivity. Still happy to be here, watching bad 80s videos; 99 red balloons is on now.
I made it to Riga before 2:30pm. I was following along with the map as we entered town, trying to find the best way to get to the hostel from the bus station. Fortunately, there was a stop along
the way that was very close to where I wanted to go, so I left there. It didn't take long to get to the hostel. Getting to the top of this sixth floor building where the hostel is, however, took some time. No elevator. So tiring. I checked in and got settled into my new boutique hostel. Whatever that means. It it very nice here though, with a flat screen tv, free videos, free laundry, kitchen, free wifi, free breakfast, etc. I'm still in a dorm, with eight people, though I think it is not full. It is the Riga room, and there is a map of the city on the ceiling. All for about $10/night.
Once settled I started to sight see. Of course I headed to information, and they gave me a walking tour map with two different walks in it. I did one of the walks in a couple of hours and then got some cheap food. Dumplings, for less than $2. Tomorrow may be a respeat experience, but with more dumplngs. It was self service and then they weight the bowl. There were so many choices and I had no idea what I was doing,
so I didn't actually take enough. But I was tired and wanted to get back. It was cloudy and cool today and rained before I arrived. Tomorrow it starts to become hot and cloudless. Good for pictures!
July 9 - Another busy day. I'm so tired. I got up at 8am, so I had about eight hours of sleep. I didn't sleep great initially, as I all of a sudden had a paranoia attack and was worried someone was going to steal my daypack. Normally, it's been in a locker at night, but there isn't one here. I can leave valuables at the desk, but the guy was out when I went to sleep. Somehow he is on duty until Monday, but I guess that he still has some fun. So I started with the bag on the floor by my head, but then moved it to next to my pillow on my bed. I felt better, but still a bit nervous. Tonight should be better since I have only three girls here and one works at night. Correction, a British couple has just come in. Oh well - I'm sure it will be fine. Once up, I had
some breakfast and started to think about my day. There were a couple places I wanted to check out before the tour, including the opera. It is quite famous here and I was hoping to buy tickets, but the opera does not start in the summer until August, so that is out. I wandered around and found a great Russian Orthodox church, but they were having a service so I did not go fully in. Women cover their heads in the ortohodox churches, but in a cool, hip hair-still-showing kind of way. And there are no chairs - hardcore.
I met with the free walking tour at noon in front of St Peter's church. The guide had a recognizable yellow suitcase. We had a group of 12 or so, and the people on the tour were pretty cool. I talked mostly to a Kiwi who was traveling mad fast - a new country every day. Crazy quick. After the tour we got some lunch at the dumpling place I went to last night, and then went in the tour at the church. It has an elevator, the only option up. Which was great as it was so high. I
got a good panoramic view of the city and got inspired to go to the river, which was a close walk away. We sat there on the opposite side watching Riga for an hour and a half or so, and then I decided it was time to move on. It was 7pm, so I came back to the hostel, showered, and ate some instant noodles while I chatted with an American dad and son who are moving from an international school in Rotterdam to one in Hamburg. They shared their ice cream. Very cool. Spent some time researching day trips and will go on one tomorrow.
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