the general stuff
26.01.2017 - 28.01.2017 -5 °C
Yes, unexpected snow on the first day in Riga (and the only day since then).
From below you can see how the weather changed from one day to another....
The Dagauva river was frozen over, which is always a nice view.
I was lucky to visit it first time 1994, just a few years after Independence (1991) and Russian changes (1993). Then lived in Latvia 2000/2001 and visited again few times after.
First impression is that it is less Russian looking/sounding. Latvia was historically the Baltic state with the highest percentage of Russian inhabitants. Literally imported when they annexed Latvia in 1940 (and some Latvians into the other direction of the Gulag). Subsequently controlled the economy as it was directed from Moscow. Today it is still some third of the population who are ethnic Russian and to my feeling they are more in the background. Latvians have taken since independence strong affirmative action and apply firm language and nationality rules.
Trams are being changed from old Russian to new European.
So, now in 2017 what else has changed?
Well, the old buildings are still there and they give the charm of the place. More hotels. More English.
In fact, it was very quiet in town - obviously not the touristic season. Smart comment ...
Seems that also English stag nights have reduced and soo much for the better. Few years ago Riga became a cheap weekend trip for the English stag nights. Cheap beer and many beautiful ladies... Lucky for Riga that this is not any more the main attraction, maybe the English go to ..... Slovakia or somewhere more south.... who knows.
Did a lot of walking, just enjoying the architecture.
Had some nice meals, including Russian (with wodka of course). At Uncle Iwan...
(Perhaps not new but the word vodka means - little water - in Russian. Water being voda. What I do not have to mention that it is the preferred drink in these Northern part, they even talk about the Wodka Belt).
I like to visit the Main Tirgus, or market. It is here you see the people and local produce. Lots of pickled vegetables and dried fish. This was more or less the best you had in the early days I was there - not many international supermarkets then. It is still lively and interesting. You may smile but in the early days it was mostly either oranges or bananas in big quantities - now every tropical fruit is displayed and sold. On Belgian Telenet there is a channel that runs silent programs on European markets. Riga is in there for those who want to zap past.
Actually, reading this and looking at pictures, it does not fully right to the place. For those who are at least a bit interested now, it is worth visiting in summer of course. Do like many people do, either take a short Baltic cruise or what is favourite for the Chinese now; fly into Vilnius (Lithuania) and hop over to Riga and Tallin. Each city on its own is perhaps too small and only takes two days. Combining all three gives you a different and interesting trip to see another corner of Europe. Do it and you will not regret!