Riga 15.7. - 20.7.
The days in Baltic metropolis passed by a way too quickly. Riga has so much to see and to do. We decided to look at few main attractions and otherwise just go wherever the mood of the city takes us.
One of the highlights in Riga was the dinghy trip on Pilsetas Kanals. The three kilometres long canal starts from Andrejosta yacht harbour and goes around the whole old town and neighbouring parks ending in the river of Daugava. Canal was a popular place to spend a hot summer day. Pedalling boats, rowing boats and canoes were available for renting next to the opera house. On our canal trip we also spotted a dinghy dock in front of Stockmann department store. It would be a fun to go shopping with our own boat also at home :-)
There was a fountain on the canal and Andrus joked that this would be a good place to wash a hair. We drove closer with the intent to have a few photographs. Andrus made a brisk turn with dinghy so we would not get wet. At the same time the engine stopped. There we were with cameras in hand, no engine and trying to get oars from their brackets. The water was pouring heavily onto us. After we finally managed to row ourselves out from the fountain we were soaking wet. Andrus tried to start the engine without any success. Quick look into the gas tank, yes, we have a plenty of fuel so what is the problem? Then we noticed that the outboard's safety lanyard was disconnected. It must have been happened when we made a turn in the front of the fountain. After the kill switch was back on place the engine started on first pull and purred nicely. We just could not stop laughing as we went forward on the canal.
Eve's parents, Kerttu and Heikki, arrived to visit us for a few days in Riga. We used one of the hot days to visit city of Jurmala. Jurmala is located on the coast of the bottom of Gulf of Riga and it is a famous beach resort town in Baltic states. Over a kilometre long walking street offers many possibilities for eating, drinking and shopping. We enjoyed the traditional saslikas dishes and steered towards the beach. The sand felt like a icing sugar. It's structure was very powdery and soft like a velvet. The wind has been blowing from the east for several days and the water level was low. It was almost like in Nallikari beach of Oulu where water level is very low and we needed to wade a long way before deeper swimming water was found.
From Riga to Jurmala is 20 kilometres that can be travelled by train or taxi. Using taxi Latvia is affordable. We recommend taking red or lime green taxi. They took us shortest route and with a meter on. For example from Riga to Jurmala four persons was 15 lats or 23 euros.
Even if we had read about cheating beforehand from internet we still had to try both white and blue taxies as well. While coming from Stockmann hands full of groceries we took a blue taxi. The taxi had clearly a tuned meter as it showed an amount four times of what we excpected. Usually such a distance cost 2-3 lats but Mr Blue charged us almost 9 lats. Another way to move around is by trams. One trip is 0.5 lats if tickets are bought beforehand from the kiosk or 0.7 lats from the driver. From Andrejosta marina trams number 5, 7 or 9 go to the old town.
One of the main attractions in Riga is the house of the Blackheads originally built in 1334 and refurbished several times during the past centuries. In the cellar we could reach for the musty feeling of medieval trade. The house is located on the riverbank of the river Daugava and was a home for German merchants at a time. From the house only the foundation remains original. First Germans bombed it to the ruins in year 1941 and Soviets demolished the rest in 1948. The house is rebuilt by Latvians in 1995. The upper floors present beautiful crystals, silverware, antique furniture and paintings from the past centuries. The Brotherhood of Blackheads managed the house from the 15th century. We can only think what common people must have thought about the house decorated with gold and statues in the middle of Riga's medieval alleys.
We also went to view Riga at clock tower of the St. Peter's Church. Visitors can take an elevator to 72 meters and the view was magnificent. The travellers can find anything from Riga. The old Zeppelin halls host an enormous Centraltirgus market. Several large shopping malls have everything possible. The old town has its distinct feeling with small boutique shops and restaurants. All Riga’s restaurants where we visited offered excellent food. Of course the prices in old town were much higher.
The old trick to follow the local people when looking for a good restaurant worked again when we stumbled into the restaurant Zitari. Zitari is located a short walking distance from Andrejosta towards the old town close to the cable bridge. We entered at 9pm for dinner but their kitchen was already closed for the night. But the outside barbecue could still be ordered. The cook grilled shashlik meat or fish whatever you like. The food was very good and it was really cheap compared to tourist prices in the old town. Zitari was a cozy small restaurant which we can warmly recommend. The owner told that he opened the place one month ago into Riga. His first restaurant Zitari was in Roja about a kilometre from the harbour so we missed it when we were there.
We enjoyed a lot the stay in Riga. Every day was different as we made the plans for a day according to the morning moods. There is still a lot to see and we decided already in Riga that we will come back some day.
In Latvia Suwena stopped in four different harbours: Liepaja, Pavilosta, Roja and Riga. Altogether Latvia was a positive experience. People are friendly and speak excellent English. It is easy to be a tourist in Latvia.
Suwena's summer adventure will still feature one country before returning to home. The voyage from Riga will continue to Estonian waters and the first stop is in the middle of the Guld of Riga, Ruhnu island.