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The Baltics Pt I

Riga, Latvia


Leaving sweden involved taking another jumbo-boat. this one, however was a little less glamourous: rusty windows and gruff staff. i got the feeling we were venturing back into the eastern bloc...we sailed through slighty rocky seas into riga into cold wet rainy weather. the theme for the rest of the trip, it seems...

Riga was an eye opener. (as everywhere has been so far, really). we stumbled out of the boat, got ripped off by a taxi driver (another recurring theme) and found our hostel. the hostel was in the regular aged part of town which was fairly regular. unlike sweden or finland, the buildings here werent so smart...but on finding the old town, it was a different case all together. intricate little houses/buildings, towering churches with spires, domes and the whole churchy thing. i didnt realize that it would be such a pretty place to be. got a stunning view of what could have been the whole country (small place, latvia) from the top of an open spire...-1 degree celcius for every metre the spire was tall...total minus 180 degrees celcius. this meant i made a swift departure inside and back down into the warm vestry.

for the rest of latvian sightseeing we glided around the old town looking at 16th centruy things and generally being pleased we had made a stop here. one point of note was the occupation museum highlighting how the latvians had been annexed 3 times in the last century. firstly by stalin, secondly by hitler and to add insult to injury, stalin did it agin after WWII. it now made sense that some of the people on the boat were a tad gruff. i would be too. it made me feel a bit proud that Latvia and lithuania were the 1st 2 countries to announce their independence from the USSR as soon as the opportunity arose. they had been shat on for approximately 70 years, so it was high time they had a ray of sunshine...

time for dinner so we dropped into a warm underground native food place, the name of which i cant even begin to remember. we tucked into traditional latvian dishes and also had a bit of lard...not even joking. the best part of the meal for me though was the drinking. i enjoyed a few cocktails before deciding to try the local drink, Latvian Balzams. a heady concoction of erm...stuff. it is supposed to cure what ails ya but i think it makes you go a bit funny. on the way home, tony stopped me from being hit by a tram. technically, i owe him my life. haha. it was a good drink that made everything turn a shade of orange and things moved quickly around you while you can only move slowly. i felt a little disoriented but in an absolutely good way. i recommend a swift guzzle of the balzams any day of the week. and if i hadnt been traveling for another 2 weeks afterwards, i would have got my self a bottle to enjoy in the comfort of my own home...next time i guess.

The next afternoon, it was out of the hostel, grab some pastries and onto a bus to travel about 34cm to Lithuania...it isnt far away.

permalink written by  adamski752 on September 11, 2008 from Riga, Latvia
from the travel blog: Adam's Leisurely Return Home
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