We enjoyed a lazy morning in beautiful Riga, as the group congregated late for a 1pm free walking tour of the capital city’s quaint little old town:
We first tried to make wishes come true by touching the noses of all 4 animals at this stature:
We then walked to the center of old town, where you can see the Dome Cathedral on your left and the House of the Blackheads, a reconstruction of the old guild for unmarried German merchants in Riga from the 1500s.
We walked around some more.
At the edge of old town is its famous freedom monument with Lady Liberty at the top, honoring the soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence.
We also were told that the McDonalds by Riga’s Freedom Monument is particularly special for being the very first one built in Latvia and the first mark of Western influence in the country.
However, Riga is most known for its scattered but comprehensive displays of art nouveau architecture, which can be found scattered on over 750 buildings in the city.
These are our favorites in old town:
After the walking tour, the group headed southeast where right past the bus station are 5 huge converted hangers that were originally used to construct zeppelins during World War 2. Now its Riga’s Central Market Place that sell pretty much every and all types of food and goods that Latvia has to offer:
Then we walked southeast of the markets to reach the Latvian Academy of Sciences tower, famous for its elaborate Soviet-style architecture.
For 4 euros you can take its elevator up 15 floors and walk up 2 more flights of stairs for some nice panoramic views of the Riga. It’s the cheaper view in town, as the other option is the top of Dome Cathedral, which would cost you 7 euros.
A few more blocks southeast of the Latvian Academy of Sciences is the preserved remnants of the Jewish ‘ghetto’ from the days of World War 2:
Afterwards we took a quick cab ride northwest to see Riga’s ornate Orthodox Cathedral:
No photos are allowed inside (and they do get aggressive with that rule) but we did our best anyway:
Finally, to cap off our daytime tour of Riga, we walked northwest more to the Art Nouveau district of Riga, which boast even more perfect examples of the “Romantic” Art Nouveau designs from the 1910s for which Riga is famous.
Then we returned to the hostel to change and make our reservation for the most popular restaurant in old town (recommended by locals), Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs.
Despite its atmosphere and great food, the electricity cut out in the middle of our dinner for a good hour and a half, leading the restaurant to offer us free shots of black currant liqueur and 15% off the bill. We ended up paying no more than 10 euros per person that included an appetizer, entrée, and drinks.
After dinner, the group split up for a Girls’ Night Out and a Stag Party, where we competed over chat who was having a better time.
The rest of the photos are too inappropriate to post on this blog, and might ruin careers…but suffice to say after 3 hours apart both groups reconvened at the McDonalds by the Freedom Monument to share stories and compare our nights.
After finishing up at McDonalds, we walked back to the hostel at 3am when 2 of our monsooners, Teresa and Vivian, ran into their friendly pedicab driver/bicyclist friend that had driven them home for free the night before.
Since their last day on the trip was today and they were flying out tomorrow morning, they got back on his cab for one last free ride.
However, when we returned to the hostel, they were not there. About 15 minutes passed by when we decided to head back out to find out what was going on.
5 of us race-walked back to the same bar where we had ran into their pedicab friend. His friends, however, were unhelpful; they first seemed dismissive of our concerns, then scoffing and patronizing us on how we were overreacting. We stood our ground and they eventually relented, calling their friend to come back. After about 5-10 minutes, Teresa and Vivian returned safe and sound and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief.
All in all, we can say a day is good when it’s full of stories and empty of casualties. This was one of them.
– At time of posting in Riga, Latvia, it was 64.4 °F – Humidity: 60% | Wind Speed: n/a | Cloud Cover: sunny