Riga was our last stop in our little winter jaunt, and we were just slightly apprehensive about it – not about visiting the city, which looked awesome, but because it is quite cold there in the winter. Very cold, actually. Like, as much as -20 Celsius cold, far below anything else either of us had ever experienced before. Would we survive? Read on to find out…
Obviously, we did, though B may tell you it was close thing at times. It was actually quite nice when we landed on New Years Eve morning, at a balmy -3 in brilliant sunshine. After locating our bag on the carousel we headed out into the crisp air and caught the bus into town (which was free for some reason).
The bus dropped us off nearly right where we wanted to be, we dropped our gear at the Opera Hotel and Spa and then headed straight back out for a look around town. We never really managed to see anything other than the old part of Riga, which we were staying on the edge of, but I found it to be a very interesting place, at least to look at. The streets were all paved and winding, in that most charming of European ways (if a little hard to navigate), and there seemed to be a slight Russian influence to many of the buildings (at least to me, someone with no eye for architecture and who hasn’t been to Russia. Quite the expert).
Above all though – it was cold! It was just beyond anything we we’ve experienced before. Prior to leaving London I’d gone and bought a large supply of thermals, and even after putting on many of those, adding a couple of jerseys and a big coat over the top it was still coming in. The paved areas of town didn’t have much snow sitting around, at least at first, but everything else was frozen.
We ended up having to duck into cafes and bars very regularly just to warm up and thaw out, and so before long we found ourselves sitting down for lunch slightly earlier than we had expected. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Latvian food, having done no more research on Riga than either of the other two stops on this trip, but the place we found was great. After a lot of searching Google Maps I can now tell you that it was called Domini Canes, and that the food was super delicious and came out looking kind of like little pieces of art (see below). I read later Riga is actually starting to emerge as quite a foodie town, and certainly everywhere we ate during our trip was very nice (though we never did try any ‘traditional’ food, which I’m a little disappointed about). Also – it was all very cheap!
After spending the afternoon and evening trying to explore some more, but ultimately ending up staying inside a lot of the time, it started to get quite close to midnight, and New Years Eve. I wasn’t sure what to expect in such a cold place, but as we made our way riverside with the throngs of other people it turned out there was quite a party going on outdoors. We found ourselves a good vantage point, counted away 2015 and admired the pretty impressive fireworks (which we about 7 minutes late, but never mind). Nearly everyone around us seemed to have brought along a little bottle or wine or spirits, and people were quite freely sharing with everyone around them in what I thought was quite a nice, sociable way to celebrate a new year coming in. Then people started letting off fireworks in the crowds, and we decided it was probably time to head home and get out of the cold (-19 when we arrived back at the hotel).
That was about all we did in Riga (we had one more day there, but basically spent it doing exactly the same over) – it really was too cold to do much else, and as it is boring to hear the same thing twice I think I’ll leave it there.
We had a great time though, despite being a little restricted activity-wise. I would actually love to go back to Latvia when it is a little more temperate – it seemed like a fun, vibrant place even in the depths of winter, so I imagine it’ll be an awesome place in the summer months.
Maybe next year?
Until next time, B & A.
P.S. – little life reminder for you all: back up all your data! I broke my phone recently, which sucked as all our photos were on it (too cold to carry a DSLR around) and I hadn’t gotten around to saving them anywhere else. In the end it was repairable and I didn’t lose any data, but for a while there this was looking like it was going to be a picture-less blog post.