Thursday, 29 January 2009

Riga, Latvia

Perhaps not the most obvious of tourist destinations, but nonetheless, Riga, Latvia is where I said goodbye to 2008 and welcomed in 2009.
It was cold, I won't lie. But, having dressed appropriately and with no wind and blue skies it was actually rather pleasant. Much more bearable than Amsterdam was over the same period, I hear.
We stayed at the Islande Hotel just over the river, only a 15 minute walk from the city's centre.
Riga was a strange mash of the old and the new for me. The old town is lovely and quaint and well preserved, but there's not a lot of modern life to it. Most of the new shops are in huge department stores, two in the centre, but mostly lining the highways in and out of the city.
The locals were lovely, very friendly and all spoke English fluently.
The food was good and cheap, as was the beer. We hit up Lido, an national institution the first night we were there and were addicted from then on. You want to visit the main Lido for the full experience. We had a huge smorgasboard of comfort food to choose from (a lot of potato and meat) and lovely honey beer to wash it all down with. Our meals ranged between 4-6 Lats, approx €5-€11.
Riga is known as the Paris of the east as it has beautiful Art Nouveau architecture throughout the city, as well as some just really interesting buildings.
For modern dining that's a little different try Hospitalis on Stabu iela 14. The restaurant is decked out with medical furniture, equipment, objects, etc. The waitresses are extremely cute in their very short white nurses outfits – they look adorable. There's a regular menu or the special menu, in which you're tied up in a straight jacket and spoon fed by the lovely nurses...every boy's dream.
We did a few day trips...posts to come in the next few days.

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