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Thread: Riga, Latvia (4/27/06 - 4/30/06)

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    Default Riga, Latvia (4/27/06 - 4/30/06)

    I recently visited Riga, the capital of former Soviet state Latvia. It's only a two hour flight from Amsterdam, perfect for a short vacation. I went there with two friends who also joined me during my last visit to NYC, and the brother of one of them, they will also be joining me this summer to China. At least I hope, after this short trip...

    I only made about 700 pictures these four days, way below my average of NYC last year. That doesn't mean Riga isn't a nice city however, it's absolutely wonderful.

    Click on the images for a larger version. I use a Nikon D70, with 18-70 and 70-300 lenses. All pictures are just scaled down, without any editing. If you want one in a larger size, please send me a PM.

    Because of the 10-image per post limit, I'll have to make a couple of posts of it...

    Thursday 4/27/06
    We arrived at just before midnight on wednesday, all we did that day was take a cab to our hostel, and go to sleep. The next day we started with a park near our hostel:

    Last edited by WizardOfOss; May 8th, 2006 at 06:53 PM.

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    Thursday 4/27/06 (cont'd)
    Next stop: Pils Riga, the president's residence. We were lucky, since there happened to be on or another official visit, the lady in red on the left picture turned out to be the president, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, with a little help from Google...:

    Next stop: the old town, Vecrīga, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. And with reason, it is very, very beautiful. Well, most of it is, there are a couple of hidious pieces of concrete...

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    Thursday 4/27/06 (cont'd)

    Next stop: Central Market, which is supposed to be the largest permanent foodmarket in Europe. Maybe, maybe not. Originally these halls were built as hangars for zeppelins:

    From the market we walked past the 108m high Science Academy, towards the Central Station. As you can see, Russian is still a very common language her. Luckily, most young people speak English quite good. And otherwise German is also an option.

    We had dinner that day at Friday's (no kiddin'), and ended the evening trying to play pool. Here's an image one of my friends took with his camera, just before I almost managed to hit him with the 3-ball...

    More to come the next couple of days...
    (probably not tomorrow, since I have a concert of Radiohead to visit...)
    Last edited by WizardOfOss; May 8th, 2006 at 07:02 PM.

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    Some pretty interesting architecture. Don't see much of Riga. Thanks for posting.

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    It took a bit longer than expected, but here's part two of my trip to Riga...

    Friday 4/28/06
    After finding out how the public transportation worked (easy, just buy a $0,35 ticket on the bus), we went to Zakusala island in the middle of the Daugava river, to see the Riga TV Tower. At 368.5m, it is the third highest structure in Europe, only the TV-towers in Moscow and Kiev are higher.

    Except from the tower and another building all the way on the other end of the island, there's pretty much nothing else to see. It's quite a walk from the bus stop to the tower, and the only traffic we saw were some cars of driving schools. At the base of the tower there were a couple of old Russian cars, we haven't seen any of those in the city.

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    Friday 4/28/06 (cont'd)
    You can go up the tower, too bad the observationplatform is at just 97m. Since the tower is quite far from the old town (we walked all the way from the bridge in the left picture), the view is 'quite nice' at best. It also doesn't help that the last time the windows wee cleaned turned out to be 7 years ago...

    Back on the ground instead of taking the bus back into the city we decided to take a walk, from the bridge we had quite a nice view. The neighbourhood at the other end of the bridge might not be the best of Riga, there's a huge Mercedes-dealership in the middle of it. And some typical soviet-style architecture.

    The rest of the day we spent on arranging a rental car for the next day, and just enjoying the city.

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    Saturday 4/29/06
    First of all our rental car, a two days(!) old Toyota Avensis, which had only run 38 kilometers. At the end of the day it's about 300 kilometers more, of which about 120 were on unsurfaced roads (is this correct English for a road that consists of sand and rocks?).

    Destination for today was the small town of Cēsīs. It's a very nice old town with many historical buildings, but also some real junk. But look at the building on the 4th picture, doesn't it look like it's from Kings Quest or something?

    Our main reason for visiting Cēsīs were the ruins of the castle. First we visited the museum, too bad it wasn't allowed to take pictures. It just took some time before I was aware of that, the time to take one shot to be exactly...

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    Saturday 4/29/06 (cont'd)

    Before we left the museum, we were given a helmet and a couple of candlelit lanterns. Just for show? I don't think so! First stop is the basement of one of the towers. Needless to say that without the lanterns there's almost no light at all down there.

    After that we went up another tower, some of the spiral stairs were even darker than the basement mentioned before. The view from the top is definately worth the climb however.

    We drove back to Riga along the Baltic sea, nothing much to see there however. Back in the city we visited one of the many malls, which are more American-style than any mall I've seen in Europe. At the end of the day we parked our car right in front of the National Opera, very impressive building, especially at night.

    We had some troubles getting our car picked up, our hotel would't coorporate the least bit: "I won't help you. I don't understand your English". That left us no choice but to give Hertz a call ourselves, luckily the person we spoke knew just enough English to understand us...

    I hope to post the next part wednesday, another concert tomorrow evening, The Boss himself this time

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    Default Amsterdam to Latvia

    That was fun......great photos......thanks WizardOfos!
    Last edited by infoshare; May 15th, 2006 at 07:59 PM. Reason: title

  10. #10
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    Manhattan - UWS


    Very nice tour! Thanks for sharing those.

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    Again, it will take me some more time than I expected, I hope to post the last part tomorrow.

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    Wizard, what major language is best for navigating the language barrier in Latvia? German? English? I suppose many people speak some Russian, though doubtless with reluctance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc
    Wizard, what major language is best for navigating the language barrier in Latvia? German? English? I suppose many people speak some Russian, though doubtless with reluctance.
    Most of the younger people do speak English surprisingly well, much better than in France or Germany for example. The older people however are a whole different story, they only speak Latvian and indeed Russian, two languages I don't speak for a single word. We tried German, that didn't work that good either. Luckily, pointing at a map did the trick most of the time.

    Most important things for tourists is in three languages: Latvian, Russian (cyrillic) and English, in that order. Sometimes however, they must have thought that only the first two of those three would be sufficient.

    Watching television was also quite a weird experience, we saw a bit of The Peacemaker. Originally English spoken, now German dubbed in the background, with cyrillic subtitles and a single-voice translation in Latvian. Horrible...

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    Well, it took some more time than expected, but here's finally the last part:

    Sunday 4/30/06

    After the long day before and the troubles with returning the car we had some troubles waking up this last day, but around noon we were awake enough to find a nice place for a good sunday brunch. And were better to go than to a place with these cars parked in front:

    Our destination for today was the Riga Motor Museum, which should have a nice collection with a couple of Auto Union V16 racing cars and some cars of Stalin and Brezhnev. Unfortunately, the opening hours they gave us at the Tourist Information turned out to be wrong, so after a long drive with the bus we found out the museum was closed. Enough time to enjoy the architecture in this part of the city, and take a look at a local car repair:

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    Sunday 04/30/06 (cont'd)

    On our way to the museum we'd seen a racing circuit, we decided to check that out. The circuit itself is, except for a nice mural, nothing fancy, most buildings look like they could collapse any moment. And the creaking of the stage (correct translation?) was quite frightening.

    To our surprise, the cars driving around looked a lot better than we could ever expect here:

    Back to the city, we tried the Latvian version of McDonalds, The Hessburger. About the same junk, so they might become very sucessful. Once outside, we realized we could have gotten something to drink and eat on a much higher level.

    Last edited by WizardOfOss; May 28th, 2006 at 06:22 PM.

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