Choosing to escape to Latvia at the start of this month turned out to be a great decision.
I knew the city well already, so it felt like I was being welcomed back by an old friend. It was the first time I have visited Rīga for any length of time just for the sake of it. My last trip – a long weekend 5/6 years ago – was built around my son playing in an ice hockey tournament there. Many others were purely for work, with a few hours here and there to just explore and enjoy the city.
I started out with ideas of possibly extending my horizon beyond the city to places like Jūrmala or Cēsis, both being easily accessible by train. In the end I found my desire to explore Rīga gently, and my need of rest plus relaxation, won the day.
My 7 days was packed with highlights.
First was my Airbnb apartment, and of course staying somewhere pleasant is a cornerstone of a good break. The location (Stabu iela, close to its junction with Brīvības iela, for those who know the city) turned out to be excellent, and inside it was spacious, clean, quiet and comfortable.
This meant I could relax when I was there, and sleep well.
Next comes my various tourist outings in the city, including the National Museum of Art (Latvijas Nacionālais mākslas muzejs), Rīga Art Nouveau Centre (Rīgas Jūgendstila centrs) and Latvian Academy of Sciences (Latvijas Zinātņu akadēmija).
Third would be my various food and drink experiences. I did not eat in the apartment much apart from breakfasts, and mostly went for local places to eat lunch and dinner as opposed to tourist type places in the city centre.
Aside from Latvian food, I ate Vietnamese, Japanese, Georgian and Italian. Yes, choice and variety were plentiful. The same goes for coffee shops.
Another highlight was the actual travel itself, which seems strange these days – at least to me. Partly I can attribute this to the airline (airBaltic) which was excellent, and a level up from what I have encountered recently with Ryanair. The other element was the airport at Rīga. I found it to be efficient and user friendly – several levels above what I am used to at Edinburgh.
Yes, I would go back anytime. Well, perhaps not midwinter, but you know what I mean.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2022
Evoked memories of trips to Riga. The first was thanks to a free ticket from Ryanair. The highlight of that trip was meeting three Norwegians who were fans of Cowdenbeath. I guess it takes all kinds. On another trip I bought a tee-shirt which I wore at breakfast in a hotel on the Isle of Man. The waitress was Latvian; the tee-shirt prompted a long conversation. Another of travel’s strange but interesting encounters.
My first flight was Rīga to Moscow on Aeroflot in 1968, so we go back a long way!