Wednesday 10 June 2015
My Interrail pass did not work in Tallinn, so I booked a coach (Lux Express) for 8:30am to take me to Riga. Costing me 21 EUR, I managed to sleep for most of the 5 hour journey, only waking at the Latvian border (in reality, it was a layby) for passport control. I arrived in Riga at 1:30pm where the weather was just as hot as Tallinn levelling off at around 25C.
I checked into St. Peter’s Boutique Hotel briefly before setting off on a walk around the city. I found Riga to be very compact. So much so, I covered off a lot of sights in around an hour. First stop around the corner of my hotel was St Peter’s Church. Included in the UNESCO World Heritage list, it cost around 10 EUR to climb the 73 metre tower for panoramic views of Riga. For that price, I passed on the opportunity.
Next was a walk over to the Swedish Gate before the Three Wall Street. A small courtyard built during the cholera epidemic, it housed a beautiful golden statue overlooking a well.
5pm came and, you guessed it, another Segway tour. For 28 EUR to hire an X2 Segway and 45 EUR for a guide for one hour, I swerved my way through the crowds as my guide, Mikhail drew up some interesting facts and history. Part of the tour took me to some beautiful buildings with amazing architectural facades.
Zipping around at speed on a Segway was thirsty work as I had a sundowner on Dome’s Square whilst listening to some very light blues coming from the temporary stage erected in the middle. After feeding the pigeons with my leftover pistachio nuts, I had dinner at a restaurant called Piejura. For starters, I had some fried garlic rye bread accompanying smoked salmon, herring, smoked mackerel and smoked sprats. For main course, I tried the meat dumplings…
Thursday 11 June 2015
Breakfast was certainly interesting at St Peter’s Boutique Hotel as I had salads for starters and then “chicken wings” for my second plate full of food.
I checked out of the hotel early, deposited my bags in the locked cupboard and then headed over to the KGB building museum. Originally an apartment block, it was converted into a building of unimaginable atrocities. During the “Year of Terror” under Soviet occupation between 1940 and 1941, the Cheka moved in and arrested anyone who may have been a threat to the Soviet regime. People were brought to the building, which had been altered to include interrogation rooms and cells with solid iron doors (like a prison). Many were executed and tortured here. I certainly never realised that it happened in Latvia, but I was very glad to have visited.
After an hour or so of being guided around the KGB building, I walked back to the hotel and had a final drink in a traditional Latvian cellar bar before catching the public bus to the airport. As I boarded the bus, the driver didn’t seem to have much concern that I wanted to purchase a 2 EUR ticket. In the end, since he didn’t care and there being a lack of conductors about, my transfer to the airport to my next destination was free!! My kind of price…