A taxi, a flight, a bus and a long walk brought us to our apartment in Riga.
Riga wasn’t really on my bucket list. I didn’t know much about it, to be honest until I met a Latvian person. I’m ashamed at how little I knew about such a hugely fascinating corner of the world.
Our apartment was comprised of a kitchen with a bed in it, a living room with a bed in it and uh, an actual bedroom. Not quite what we were sold but it was very cosy. The view was lovely, too. I’m not sure I’ve ever stayed in a room with a view so it was quite special to be able to sit on a huge window ledge and look out at the iconic Riga bridges.
No strangers to struggle, the Riga streets are lined with celebrations of independence and throwbacks to being a member of the Soviet Union. Due to various invasions over generations, there’s a bittersweet blend of architecture found throughout the city – influenced by a vast range of cultures.
If you’re looking for a cheap European getaway and are something of a politics/history buff, I couldn’t recommend Riga more. Flights from Glasgow start as cheap as £14.99 and even the most fanciful accommodation is obscenely cheap. The most expensive meal I ate was €10 and it was pizza.
Latvians love starch, meat and seafood. Pancakes are a real staple as are various forms of potato and fish burgers. Not the most ideal location for a vegetarian trying to lose weight but it didn’t dampen my spirits. The pancakes were unreal.
My most pleasant surprise was just how much Latvians love cats! Most souvenirs are cat-based and many shops and restaurants are decorated with various cat ornaments. There are also plenty of healthy “community cats” wandering around. For all intents and purposes, these cats are strays but this doesn’t mean they’re not cared for. They’re fed, watered and taken for medical treatment by the community surrounding them. They wander freely and confidently. Honestly, I’d go back for the pro-catness alone.
As somebody that absolutely loathes warmer months, I can’t say this was an issue for me but Riga is a cold, cold place. The cold is fairly biting and of a night, the temperature drops fairly dramatically.
I loved it. I loved the drama of the city itself and felt that the grey clouds only emphasised this.
Not to mention, the dramatic buildings and grey buildings are somewhat offset by the huge amounts of greenery found in the city centre. Lakes, fountains and an assortment of flowers can be found in front of striking government buildings.
I didn’t expect to fall in love with Riga but I definitely did. A small, brave, creative corner of Europe bursting at the seams with culture, history and beauty.