Riga, Latvia

By Megan Hulshizer

The bus between Tallinn and Riga takes about four hours. I didn’t mind the ride at all, because I could watch the countryside pass me by, and they had free wifi little tv screens showing a huge assortment of movies. I watched “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” during my journey, which is a super cute movie and I totally recommend it.

I arrived in the late afternoon to my hostel, set my things down and proceeded to explore the city. It was cold but sunny in Riga. Since I was hungry for dinner, I ate at a local buffet restaurant named Lido that was recommended to me so I could try some typical Latvian dishes. The food wasn’t mind-blowing but I got quite a bit for my money, and it was interesting seeing the various local dishes. After dinner I walked through the old town and settled upon Kwakinn, a Belgian bar, for some cheap Belgian beer and to watch the St. Petersburg versus Moscow soccer match. The game was captivating and I enjoyed speaking with the friendly bartender about our love of English premiere league soccer.

The next day I woke up to a snowstorm. It was middle of April but my eyes did not deceive me, an early spring snowstorm had descended upon Riga. Despite the weather I was determined to enjoy my time, so I started trudging toward the meeting point for the free walking tour. Miraculously, after I stopped for a coffee, the snow stopped and the sun came out, just in time for the tour. During the free walking tour, which was fairly interesting, I met a Finnish girl named Aino who was traveling for her birthday week. We decided to explore Riga together after the tour, and ate a delicious lunch of dumpling soup at Pelmeni XL. We then walked over to the massive market on the outside of the old town. Aino and I bought some delicious baked goods for literally 30 cents. After the market we walked to the nearby Academy of Sciences, which is also referred to as “Stalin’s Birthday Cake.” It’s an imposing Soviet building that still features hammer and sickle decorations on the outside. Across town, we headed to the Art Nouveau area of Riga, where there are beautiful buildings. I had read about an island in the river of Riga that was nice, so we then crossed the bridge over to Kipsala to walk around and see the wooden homes and really fancy houses. Since it was almost time for dinner, we crossed the bridge back into town for a Latvian dinner with live music at Folkklubs Ala, and treated ourselves to some dessert as well.

The next day I took the alternative walking tour of Riga, which explored more of the outer areas not within the old town, and learned more about the history of the former Soviet satellite state. The tour ended perfectly on time for me to grab my bags and head to the airport to catch my flight back to Hamburg!

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