Sunday, October 10, 2010
"The Little Paris"
After a few busy days, I'm finally back online. :) My mystery city was Riga, the capital of Latvia! Air Baltic started operating from Copenhagen and all over Europe a couple of years ago, and every now and then, they offer amazingly cheap flights. I have ignored their flight offers earlier, as they require a stopover in Riga and the rates for direct flights to Stockholm or Helsinki are usually not so much more expensive; but as I spotted a flight that was considerably cheaper AND included a whole day stopover - which allowed me to venture into the city instead of spending a couple of boring hours at the airport - I jumped at the opportunity. I have to say (I realize I say this a lot), I'm very glad I did!

There is a manned luggage storage at Riga airport and a direct bus connection to the city, for a price of about 1 € - so getting downtown was a breeze. Since I had no more than a day to spend in the city, I only saw a fraction of it; but it was just enough so that I now know I want to come back with more time one day. :)

Riga turned out to be a really beautiful, old city. It is surrounded by water and several bridges, has a lovely old town with endless stories for a history-loving person like myself, and the people all seemed extremely friendly. I was also impressed at how clean the city was, at least the parts I visited. Even in Riga, you can still see there is the kind of poverty in Latvia that doesn't exist in wealthy Scandinavia - and hasn't existed in several decades - which I found really sad and also a little surprising. I hope the European Union will help bring a change to this situation in the near future.

Unfortunately, my memory card decided to stop working halfway through the day - only to start functioning again once I got back to the airport! -  so I missed some beautiful pictures, including the delicious Emil Gustav Chocolate. You'll have to wait for those until I go back. ;) Now that I know that this airline seems reliable and the connection works smoothly - in fact, I was positively surprised: their aircraft seemed more spacious, clean and timely than many big airlines, and Riga airport was small, convenient and very clean (even the bathrooms!!) - I will probably use them again in not-too-distant future. I would really love to visit the Riga Christmas market... ;)

You can read the funny history of the "Cat House" here.

 This park had the most 'love padlocks' I have ever seen - the whole bridge was covered in them.
Bears were everywhere...

Riga has perhaps the most impressive farmer's market I have ever seen. People from the countryside were selling all kinds of fresh produce, wild berries and mushrooms, crafts, bakery products, honey, and a thousand other things. The central market is located inside old zeppelin hangars, and also spreads out around them as far as you can see. I loved strolling around watching people - it was quite a lovely atmosphere, and the people were amazingly friendly, even when it was clear I was not buying anything and they only spoke a word or two of English - or, most of the time, none at all. You could easily spend the whole day at the market alone.

I also found some handmade teddy bears... but sadly, no one came home with me.

For the last, a few local animals, of course... ;) The dogs were accompanying their owners at the central market.

It is obviously not without reason that Riga is often called the Paris of Northern Europe. :)

It has been a few very long and exhausting - though fun! - days, so I'm going to bed early today. I will be back with some delicious, sweet 'bread' in the very near future! ;)
posted by Seglare at Sunday, October 10, 2010 | Permalink |


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