Riga - the charming city in Baltics
There are three countries together which are standing between Russia and the Scandinavia countries and you can see the marks left on the destiny of these Baltic countries.
The climate is harsh with a perfectly flat terrain, covered mostly by forests (you could have seen in my videos if I hadn’t lost my drone). These countries are the last Christians in Europe who still have pagan folk celebrations today, in which people go bare foot through the fire. For example, I was surprised to walk through the park in Riga and get to a bridge where I saw dozens of hanging locks, written with the names of couples in love. The reason why I was so surprised is not because you can’t see those locks everywhere in Europe, but because Riga doesn’t look the super touristic city where people will do that. This is when I decided to take some aerial shots of my surroundings, but the drone had other plans ….it ran away.
How you can lose a drone you might ask! Well, it’s pretty easy – turn it on, set the home destination, start flying and then…as a kid that became a grownup, just flew away on its own. The last footage I had, it was fighting a bird on the rooftop of a hotel. I asked the managers to check it out and they did, for three days in a row. I have to give special thanks for this to Hotel Roma and Hotel Kempinski for all the support. Unfortunately, it’s lost, like a fighter in a battle, nowhere to be found.
Coming back to the travel story, I can give another example whereas in the old town of Riga, among the most beautiful heritage buildings there is an ensemble of three old merchant houses dating back to 1600 (!). Together these are called "The Three Brothers". It is not the first time I get a déjà vu feeling in the Baltics, to be honest, “The Three Brothers” looked a lot like Stortorget Square from Stockholm. The Baltics trip is one of the most unforgettable trips I had in terms of stories I can tell. I even got stopped by a policeman, because I was driving in a governmental area, which was supposed to be all pedestrian.
About Riga I can tell you that it is a splendid, imperial city with a great architecture. Do not regret a second if you chose this city as a holiday destination, it is worth it. I would say that it deserves fully the description of "Northern Paris" with its majestic old and clean centre and you see something special at every corner of the street. Dear reader, if you like architecture and admire the architecture of a city like Vienna, in Riga you have much more compact buildings but just as nice.
For example, the "Black Heads House" (formerly "Blackheads" were the guild of unmarried medieval merchants) - completely rebuilt after the original plan of 1300, despite being demolished by the Soviets. They have churches and cathedrals that rival in beauty and sumptuousness anytime those in Western Europe. From the dome of any such church you can have a splendid panorama over their old centre.
What I really liked in Riga is that it kept its integrity and natural vide as a city with a majestic flair.
At dusk we felt a sense of absolute refinement in Riga to walk on the deserted streets of the old centre through a place so beautiful and we could not believe that there weren’t hundreds of tourists strolling around. That's why I consider Riga a beautiful and undervalued place in Europe where hordes of tourists have not yet appeared. On the other hand, my friends think the reason why the streets were empty is because everyone was home, celebrating Easter, which can be also an option.
Two days in "Northern Paris" you see everything that's important, walking around the streets, and enjoy slowly each stop of your itinerary, thing that I can tell you for sure you will not be able to do in Paris.
You could even use one day for a ride outside Riga, to Jurmala, a kind of "ex-Soviet Riviera" where the great Stalin and his company were spending their holidays. We were planning to do that, but unfortunately, in April it was snowing heavily, so we decided instead to relax at a SPA and not get ourselves in trouble in a country where we don’t speak the language and get lost somewhere in the woods or on a forgotten road.
One other option we had, to go to Sigulda, one of the hidden gems of Latvia, almost 30 minutes up North from Riga. You can find there the only Olympic bobsleigh track opened for public in the whole of Europe. Good to know, it’s only open in the weekend for non-Olympics sleighs.
The only advice I give you about planning your trip to the Baltics countries, is to try and cover all 3 countries on the same journey as the cities are not big and you have the time to enjoy each corner of the place. Two - three nights in every city will be enough. In addition, the distances between them are not very big, in four hours driving you get from Riga to Vilnius or Tallinn. The attractions of each city are diverse, and you can make the necessary comparisons, see both the differences and the similarities between the cities.
One spot that impressed me the most is not traditional, but the view it’s pretty incredible. It’s called Skyline Bar and of course I went there all sad and depressed after losing the drone, but the cocktails and the view were the exact thing I needed to help me enjoy my trip.
On another day, we visited this small coffee bar (I know dear reader what you are thinking - from one bar to another!) called Rocket Bean Roastery, and as the name suggests, besides coffee and food, there is also a roastery. As I understood, they are importing coffee beans from all around the world, including selected types that are scarce to serve them in the restaurant but also you can buy some for your lazy mornings at home.
I had a great collaboration with them, as you probably seen on YouTube if not, I leave you with the video down below and I am pretty sure after the 2 minutes video, you will go get a coffee.
To summarize my trip, both countries are superb and definitely I would like to visit again, but I have to say I really enjoyed my first girls trip in a very long time. It was full of happy and funny moments, with a great combination of pain (from the food poisoning) and the last time I have seen snow for this year.
A bientot Riga, see you next time!