White white nights in Riga!

IMG_3222Latvia is my first country that I chose to visit first from the 3 Baltic countries known also as Baltic States. The period of our travel coincided with the white nights month and is something one should experience 😉

How it feels, you may ask.

Well, it’s very confusing! You keep walking and enjoying your time out in Riga (or anywhere else in Latvia) and when you look at your watch it seems that it went crazy, because you don’t feel tired or sleepy and even though the sun is set, the day light is there and you feel like it’s around 9pm or 10 pm.

We planned to spend in Riga 3 nights, and if the first day we were just walking around the city and trying to enjoy it at the max, the second day and 3 day we went to see the Latvian Open Air Museum and Jurmala. Jurmala is a very popular destination among Russians, it might be the result of the numerous concerts and festivals organized by Russian artists and comedians in this country.

Not many bloggers will mention the things that least nice about a place, but I decided to do so. Therefore, what I disliked about Riga?

I didn’t like the feeling of being in Russia, even though I wasn’t there. I don’t have anything with this country, but I wanted to feel more of Latvian culture, to hear their native language and not Russian.

Also, you might have the chance of seeing the hysterical Russian, drunk or not, women who are screaming like crazy at their boyfriends/ husbands, waitresses and so on, because the things went not the way they wanted. We had a dinner at a very nice Japanese restaurant there, with this theatre at just 3 meters away from our table…not a very nice atmosphere and experience I have to say.

Ignoring the fact that some Russians need to read a guide of how to behave abroad, I have found locals very welcoming and ready to help you with the piece of information you need.

If you’re visiting UNESCO World Sites, then a trip to Riga must be on your list. Riga has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to the collection of art nouveau buildings that is one of the largest in the world, as well as a city in whose architecture the entire history from 1201 to the present day is reflected. It is also valued as a city with a unique collection of wooden developments in its central section.

I bought from there some souvenirs and warm handmade glows, made from goat fur. I absolutely love them and my sister as well 🙂 At the local market you can find berries, fruits and veggies at reasonable prices. The market is at walking distance from the train station. If you’re somewhere around, don’t miss it! If not, then make some time and go there, I’m sure you’ll find something you’d like to eat or own 😉

For a view over the city and for, as one of my friends loves to say “exclusive drinks”, I will recommend the skyline bar. You’ll have to pay at the entrance – entrance ticket – even if you don’t buy any drinks or food.

If you like to enjoy your dinner while listening to some good live music, then one of the numerous bars with live music around the old town should interest you. During white nights, after the “dawn” or better said after 8pm, the central part of the city can be very lively and noisy. If you don’t want to have dinner or buy any drinks, then take your camera and be ready for some nice pictures 🙂

I want to mention here that, not far from the train station there’s a sort of gallery and in there you can find a bistro with live music as well. The food is not something out of the ordinary, but definitely is a good quality-price food. I’m sure this page will help you find the right place for you.

Just at 1 hour drive from Riga, there’s an Open Air Ethnographic Museum. It is very interesting to see and learn how people lived here some hundreds of years ago. Maybe you’ll find common aspects with your home country. I have found really close similarities to Moldova, my home country and I have found some similarities to Japan as well. 🙂 During summer week-ends masters of the old crafts work in the farmsteads, visitors can observe scenes from ancient life and participate in various events and celebrations. Winter offers sledge rides, possibility to try your hand in ice-fishing, to slide on a sledge-wheel ride. The slopes and paths of the museum are popular among skiers. More than 135 thousand people from all over the world visit the museum annually.

The Museum can be reached by buses No. 1, 821,826, 19 and 28, getting off at the bus-stop “Open-Air Museum” (Brīvdabas muzejs) or by tram No.6, getting off at the final stop.

In our last full day in Latvia, I wanted to visit the very famous city among Russians – Jurmala. I was curious to see what is there that Russians like and why this city is an attraction for them.
I loved the wooden houses there. Each of these houses has an interesting architecture. The beach is very nice, but crowded. Locals say that in Latvia there are places where you can have a beach only for yourself, this, because Latvia has the longest coastline from the 3 Baltic countries. Therefore, I will recommend you to go to Jurmala – take some pictures and then drive to another place in search of a quiet place where you can enjoy the Baltic sea and have a picnic there. Sounds romantic, right? We are planning to do this on our next trip to Latvia or any other Baltic country 😉

I hope that this short review of my trip to Latvia is interesting enough to make you want to go there and discover your favorite part of this country.

Two more things before I go 🙂 

  • We stopped at a very nice B&B a bit outside Riga – Homestay. This place is at about 20 minutes away from city center (tram ride). Homestay is located in a very nice green, clean and quiet area. We used to come back around 11pm – 12am and we never felt unsafe for even one second! If you want to REST and not be bothered the whole night long by people partying on the streets, then this is the place to go! The host is a family of a British – New Zealander and Latvian. They travel the world and know very well Riga 😉 I’m sure they can direct you to some unique places, restaurants and art galleries.

For more information about Homestay, please visit their web page.

  • Riga is the European Capital of Culture in 2014! One more reason to visit it. More details about what will happen during 2014, you can find on this web page.

I know that you may need more information about Latvia and here are two nice pages where you can read more:

Travel safe and wise!

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