Thursday, June 09, 2011

Off to Riga - 31 May 2011

It was great to swap Oslo at 10 deg and rain, for Riga at 27 deg and brilliant sunshine. Riga is the capital of Latvia, a UNESCO city centre, and as an ex Soviet Block country, much cheaper than the Scandinavian countries.

For half the price, we found a very comfortable boutique hotel, in the centre of Riga. It's great to step out the front door of a hotel, right into the old town. Riga has escaped modernisation, and some buildings which needed replacing (as a result of WWII), have been rebuilt exactly as they were. The House of the Blackheads was rebuilt in 2001 as an 800th birthday present to the city. The original building dated from 1344, and to see it crisp and new, but just the same, is amazing. It gives an idea of what these towns looked like in medieval times.

We decided to start our tour of Riga, by climbing the tower of St Peter's church. Unlike most towers, the climb came first, followed by a lift to the top. The views are great, and give an idea of how much there is to see.

For dinner, we were enticed by a photo of a meal called “The Key to Riga”. A giant tree shaped kebab holder was covered in large chunks of beef, pork and turkey. It was quite delicious and extremely filling. Unlike Oslo, food is cheap here, and as the old town is pedestrianised, all the squares and pavements were full of cafes, quite delightful to eat out in the warm summer evening. A walk after dinner was essential, so we walked along the river to see the Riga Castle.

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