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Published: March 19th 2011
Another bus journey, another Baltic capital city. We arrived in Riga quite late but it quickly made a better impression on me than Vilnius. It was cleaner, there was less litter and much less senseless graffiti.
Our hostel was a little way out of the old town and was a pretty nice place. It was also pretty good value for the price we were paying (€30/night for quad room with baby cot).
We had two full days to explore the relatively small city, so we relaxed a little and took it at quite a slow pace. The first thing that became quite apparent was that the prices were considerably more than either Lithuania or Poland, something we weren't expecting at all. We’ve been told that with the arrival of the budget airline flights from the UK it has apparently become quite popular with the stag-party crowd who pour into the town at weekends, drink to excess, tear up the place and then leave. This might account for the increase in prices we're seeing, or maybe it just that we’re becoming more and more sandwiched between Russia and Scandinavia, two notoriously pricey destinations….
Our first day in the city
was a little odd. We started off walking towards the freedom monument, first stopping at the Russian orthodox cathedral, which we found very little info on but was pretty damn impressive. Once we got to the monument itself, our eyebrows raised a little; there was literally a sea of police officers around it. There were groups of riot police scattered about and a human chain of police around the monument itself.
A lot of the shops were closed too, but we did find a cafe to sit in and do a bit of research on the situation. The waitress said we shouldn't have anything to worry about, there might be a march but it's been banned so there might not be. We didn’t let it alter our plans of exploring the old town for the day though and we never saw anything happen all day so I'm assuming the police presence was successful in deterring it. We had a good wander around the city taking in the prominent buildings and realised it really paid to look up in this city as most buildings are heavily decorated from floor to roof.
We took a look inside Riga dome Cathedral,
which was ok but a bit pricy for what it was and also went up the spire of St. Peters church which again was a bit pricy but did give fantastic views of the old town.
I'd definitely say that I preferred Riga to Vilnius, in my opinion I’d say it was nicer in every way. We've left now on a four and a half hour bus to Tallinn, our final link in the Baltic chain, it'll be interesting to compare all three and see which one leaves us wanting more.
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