So, I recently went to Riga for 4 days. The purpose of the visit was to meet my fiancees grandparents. They couldn’t fly to us, so we flew to them. And while we were there, we thought that Kate could show me Riga and all the sights and some such. Here is my Riga experience:
The flight landed late, around 10pm so not a lot of time to see anything but the first two things I notice were: firstly, it was freaking cold! And second of all there was snow on the ground! I haven’t seen snow, and I mean proper snow, not snow-like dust on the ground, but inches and inches of snow. And, not only this, but it actually snowed as we got to Kate’s old flat.
We stayed with Kate’s mum which was awesome because it was a great little flat, Kate’s mum is very hospitable and she can cook like a champ! She made dishes that I will never forget and I will definitely cook in the future.
On the second day, I met Kate’s grandparents. It was so intense for one reason, and one reason alone: They don’t speak English. At all. They speak Russian and only Russian so Kate, bless her heart had to translate everything that I said and then everything that her grandparents said in reply. After a while we noticed that she actually hadn’t eaten anything during lunch and this was because she was too busy translating! So for the rest of lunch, I sat there silently smiling and nodding as Kate’s mum and grandparents had a nice chat. After they left, Kate had a nap she was so tired from translating! I made a promise that I would be more vigilant in my Russian learning. In the evening, I ventured out for the first time since landing to pop to the shops, but alas it was now dark so, again, I didn’t see much.
On the third day is when things got… interesting.
Unfortunately, Kate’s mum had to go on a work trip to Jerusalem (lucky duck) so we accompanied her to the airport. To get to the airport, we took a taxi.
Now, if you live in the UK like myself and it’s probably the same in the USA, some drivers are bad drivers, but mostly they are good. In Latvia/Russia, the opposite is true. Some drivers are good drivers, but mostly they are crazy. I mean, seriously, their road system befuddles me even now. Getting in one of those cars was such a mistake for two reasons. First of all, he drove like someone on some very potent Class A drugs. And not only this, but once he heard me and Kate talking in English, he started to take a really long route to the airport to get a bigger fare. I mean, he literally did a U-turn in the road to take a longer route. Kate’s mum had a word with him and he eventually took us on a more direct route. Kate’s mum only paid him how much he would have charged if he went the direct route. Good on her! But the stress of being in a car the driver treated as a freaking fighter jet and the fact that he took us a longer route because I spoke English, stressed me out so much I had a migraine. A migraine! On holiday! Rubbish! It took me out for 4-5 hours, but at least the evening was fun. We stayed in and watched some YouTube videos, mostly Matthias and Team Edge!
Thursday, however, things got a lot better. We ventured out into Old Riga, which is the more tourist-y part of Riga. The only bad thing that really happened is that on the bus, I was asked by Kate not to talk because if some people heard english, they would try and pickpocket me, sell me stuff and generally harass me, so that was fun!
But when we got to Old Riga, it was great! The architecture was so interesting! Three buildings could be right next to each other, but the architecture of each one would be significantly different. I would seriously recommend you all go to Old Riga to check it out.
We also went to the big cathedral there because Kate said that we could hear someone play the organ, but by the time we got there he had finished for the day so we skipped it and popped off to a nice little cafe that Kate knew of from back in the day.
On Friday, we popped back to Old Riga to get some stuff done (boring stuff, so I will just skip over that) but this day I made the mistake of not wearing any of my thermal clothing and I was freaking cold! But in the end, that didn’t matter.
We looked around at some more cool sights, looked at a photography expedition that was set up in town and then found a market of local artists selling their paintings. We found this beautiful picture of a small square nearby to where the artist was set up, and Kate fell in love with it as soon as she saw it, so we got it. The artist himself was a nice guy too, he even gave us a small discount! Nice guy!
Saturday was our last day. Kate’s mum, being the legend that she is, asked her friend to drive us to the airport since another taxi seemed like a bad idea after what happened last time! Our flight was at 11:30, so it was a nice early morning for us!
Normally, I am not a happy flyer, I don’t like flying or more specifically I do not like take-off. I don’t know why, I just do not like it. At all. But this time, strangely enough, I was fine with it. I supposed it did help that it was a two and a half hour flight which was enough time for us to watch one disc of Lord of the Rings, which was fun!
All in all, I enjoyed the holiday but there were some bad parts that will stick with me. Having said that, I am definitely going back, but in the summer when it is slightly warmer and less likely to be picked on for speaking English!
My advice? Go to Riga, it is a different experience (especially their bus system, they have two different types of buses: normal buses and trolley-buses which can have the same service number but have completely different routes! Still getting used to that!
Have you ever been to Riga? What was your experience? Share your adventure in the comments below! 🙂