Arrival in Riga, Latvia

21 06 2011

When we arrived in the Amsterdam airport, we luckily found a meditation/sleep area in which we partially passed out for several hours until our connecting flight to Riga, Latvia. (Hence no posting.) On the hour or so flight from Amsterdam to Riga, I met a wonderfully artistic and intuitive woman from Warsaw who was a graphic designer based in Amsterdam (speaking with her reminded me of my own creative pursuits).

When we landed in Riga we scouted out a currency exchange and received less than 50 Lats for $100. Big sigh. Before heading on the trip, I knew the general exchange rate for Lats/US but it’s always a bit of a downer when you realize the almighty dollar isn’t so almighty (even with a non-Euro currency). After picking up our bus tickets (.5 Lat each or ~$1) and some maps from the info. counter near the exit of the airport, we rain proofed our gear and set out into an almost finished drizzle and spotted the bus stop across from the airport parking lot. Luckily, Bus 22 was about to leave and we ran with several others to catch the quite packed bus. For about 30 minutes we stood like soggy tired strangers amidst mostly Latvian residents until we got off at the Novembra Krastmala 11 stop. The ride felt much like a eye spy or scavenger hunt game as we were constantly looking for bus stops signs with our stop info.

After a short walk we found our hostel, the Riga Hostel located just within Old Town. After checking in we learned our private room with shared bathroom awaited us on the 6th floor! We both embarrassingly huffed and puffed our way behind the hostel host and were greeted by funky but fairly clean room.

Since Rock was fasting, I immediately set our to find some dinner and walked several blocks through gorgeous gothic and baroque buildings. When I first left the hostel, I decided to follow a guy who exited from our hostel but he soon headed into a glass “Gucci” like mall building that I thought would not contain food and so I was on my own. After passing many quaint restaurants and cafes and too many bars to count I found a Turkish kabab place where I ordered (ie pointed and smiled) a slice of pizza (I decided to live up to my origins and chose the “American” slice), a piece of Baklavah, and (unexpected carbonated) water.

After my dinner, we both took a nap from which I did not want to rise from. With much prompting from Rock, we eventually set out to explore some of Riga’s Old Town in the chilly (~50F) evening air. It was near 9pm and lively bands were starting to jam in various beer gardens, cafes, and bars. Locals and tourists strolled leisurely on cobblestone streets by gothic spires and brick churches with beautiful rose windows. We with our low camera batteries and still tired bodies, retired “early” (ie 11pm) as the party goers and pub crawlers began to fill the streets. Their intoxicated yelps competed throughout the night with the calls of seagulls and cat screeches.

We awoke around 5am and still heard the cacophony of such creatures. Rock moseyed downstairs shortly afterwards but I slept for several more hours. A complimentary breakfast of cereal, toast, and juice temporarily filled me as I finished typing up this account. Now we’re planning on seeking adventure via bicycle in Old Town today…(I just hope my only pair of pants doesn’t bust as I’ve apparently gained some weight and the velcro at the top doesn’t close–TMI. I know. It’s always the case with me:))

Here are some photos!

And some more…:)