I?d better do a post about Latvia then, whilst it?s still in my mind. I was putting it off as I was hoping to have more photos, but Jonny is a lazy shite and hasn?t sent me the photos I took on his camera yet (and as you can see, all my photos are a bit touristy and lacking fun). I don?t think this is going to be a great post and will probably just go through the motions so read on if you can!
The flight over was very easy and we landed there around 7pm local time (did you know that Riga airport is the largest growing airport in Europe?)?.whoosh, sorry a few little facts like that may pop in from time-to-time when I remember them. Anyway it was only a 15 minute taxi journey to our hostel which was located above a strip-bar, and at the Hostel we met Matt who had been in Latvia all week.
Oh yes, unless you knew already, Matt was in Latvia for a pharmaceutical conference and as it finished on the Thursday Jonny and myself went out there for the weekend as it seemed like a perfect excuse to see somewhere new.
I guess I came to Riga with certain preconceptions and thought it was going to be a lot like Prague, a place I visited almost 3 years ago. I was wrong and what I though was going to be a weekend of getting drunk and visiting strip-clubs ended up a bit different. The first thing we were warned of was not to visit any of the stripclubs or casinos, and the kitchen in the hostel was peppered with warning of this nature and press-clippings about people who went there and got ripped off (frogmarched to ATMs for £1000), or beaten up when they refused to pay. Great. So that?s half my weekend objective out of the way. These view were also backed up by other people we spoke to (I did actually go into one strip-club later on, but a more reputable one..i.e.. expensive). The second preconception was cheap drink. It was not cheap and the prices were, in many places, comparible with the UK. Yes there were some cheap pints in some places, and spirits were cheap in supermarkets, but all in all it was normal prices. I guess you have to draw the conclusion that if you went out in any other capital city in Europe, you are unlikely to get very cheap drinks, so why should you expect it in Latvia?
It was a pretty mixed weekend and we went to a few pubs, watched football and rugby, explored the city, ate lots of food ranging from typical Latvian food all the way to having a McDonalds, went to a museum, went clubbing, drank cocktails at the top of a skyscraper, etc, and that was that.
I had a good time though and it certainly beat just staying in Ramsgate or Broadstairs, although I?m not sure if I?d make the choice to go there again. I certainly wouldn?t encourage anyone to have their Stag Weekend there, but I suppose that?s good as usually people on Stag Nights are idiots and can give a city a bad image.
All in all, Riga is a nice place, and the Latvian people seemed very nice too. I think that there are plenty more places to explore, and perhaps my view are a bit one-sided but I guess that?s all you can get for one weekends stay. I?m sure I?ll have a few more bits to tell you about Latvia in some future posts, but for now that is it.