First off, Riga is in Latvia, which is near Russia and Baltic Sea. Before this year, I didn’t know where this was either. I have recently seen so many Instagrams from here and posts on travel blogs about the city of Riga. I also have a friend living in Poland recommend it.
The city of Riga is so charming and the vibe is great. I love all of the cafes, architecture, and the vibe. It has a feel of all of my favorite European cities all rolled into one. I couldn’t have had a better time in this great city.
I arrived on the overnight bus from Saint Petersburg at 7:45 am. That was an adventure and an experience that I hadn’t done in over 15 years; since I was a youngster teaching English in Madrid. The bus seats were comfortable and Lux Express provided us with hot drinks, wifi, and personal tv’s with English movies. This cost about $30USD. One more perk is that it saved me on one night of hotel expenses.
Google Maps and Maps.me led me on a fifteen minute walk down the cobblestones street, right to location to meet the owner of my Airbnb. Since I was a bit early, I went to one of the few coffee shops that were opened in Old Riga. Caif Cafe was a great little cafe that was able to finally enjoy the best cup of coffee I have had since I left the US. Sorry Russia, I never found good coffee. Most places in the Old Town are not open until after 9 to 11, so I was happy to have one nearby.
I settled into my Airbnb which is centrally located. I think I did a great job finding this place. Everything I want is right out of my doorstep. The apartment is the only one in this section of the building. It is shared next door to an Art Gallery and below there is a pub called Victory. The cost for 3 nights was $120. Not bad.
I saw a brochure for a Free Walking Tour, so I jumped on that. It was a great acclimation to the city. I got an idea of where else I wanted to go during my stay. The sun was finally out and I didn’t need a jacket, so this immediately put my mood up.
My sleep has been so screwed up for many reasons I suppose, but I ended up falling asleep at 2pm and not waking up until 11pm. I pretty much slept the afternoon away. I still can’t figure out what the reason is. I should be over jet lag after 8 days in this time zone. Being on my own schedule, I have also just went with it, and when I am tired, I sleep. Luckily I was only up for about and hour or so and went back to sleep.
Finally, well rested, I woke up early and got out to the park nearby for a three mile walk around the beautifully manicured grounds. I headed over to the Central Market where is was starting to bustle in the morning. The aisles were filled with fruits, vegetables and flowers. Inside were meat and fish markets. I got something from a vendor called a beef samsa. It was similar to the meat pie in Russia, or an empanada in South America. Very good!!! On the way back, about a twenty minute walk, I stopped in for a late breakfast at one of the cafes I saw where my tour started. I had a an egg with toast and a vanilla cappuccino. Enjoying the warmth of the sun, I finally took off my jacket for the first time in so many days of cold weather. The sun was shining brighter and I was ready to be out in the sun.
I went back to change into a cooler outfit, though I would have been fine in what I was wearing, it was exciting to not be covered from head to toe. I spent the middle of the day zig zagging through the streets of Old Town Riga, just being, appreciating and enjoying the moment. Sitting down on park benches, watching the boats go by, people watching, stopping in anywhere that looked good, finding roof tops for views and taking lots of pictures.
In the afternoon, I ended up at the Taqueria that I saw the day before. I had chilaquiles and they were great. Yes, that was a surprise and I don’t usually eat Mexican food this far away but it had a really good reviews and a Mexican chef. The cute little cafe was right outside the Catholic church and had view down the street to the river.
Tonight I went the grocery store called Rimi to see if there was anything I wanted. I ended up with a cheese bread baguette, water, 3n1 coffee packets and a couple of protein bars. Before I went to bed, I had already had half of the loaf. OMG. It was sooo good.
I was in bed at 7pm as I was tired, but thinking about going to this Latvian restaurant that had live music, I ended up falling asleep. Another night of waking up at midnight, but stayed up for about four hours.
This morning I started my day more relaxed. I looked up some accommodations for some upcoming trips and finished up my laundry. I enjoyed Facetiming/Skyping friends, started writing on my blog finally and drank coffee in my Airbnb. Thank goodness for all of the Social Media sites, this makes it easy to communicate and not feel like you are really that far away. This trip I have been experimenting with Instagram Stories. It has been fun talking to myself on camera and the responses from my friends and family. I started doing this in Russia since it was so hard to communicate, I talked to the camera and showed what it was like there.
I spoke too soon about the nicer weather in Riga, today is rained. After laying around for half of the day, I decided I still wanted to get out so I went over the coffee shop around the corner, a two minute walk and had a delicious vanilla latte and brought my computer. I texted via WhatsApp with my next AirBnb host to figure out how I will get there. I looked up the walking directions to the train to head out tomorrow at midday.
Lido was the name of the restaurant that the tour guide recommended for Latvian food. There was another location that he recommended but since it was raining, I went to the one on the same block that my Airbnb is on. It is cafeteria style and you pay for whatever you get. I had beefsteak with wine sauce, rice with fresh vegetables, bread and caprese salad.
I had a pretty lazy day.
Hoping for a good sunrise picture over the pretty buildings, I went out at 3:45am and was not surprised when there was no sun. Since I was already out, I walked the empty streets for a little bit before going back to my Airbnb. Pretty much all of the restaurants don’t open until 9 or later so I had to wait to go have breakfast. There was a place a couple minutes walking that I wanted to try so I headed over at 9:30. Once I arrived they said they were not serving food yet, but if I went to their other location I could get breakfast. Starting to rain pretty heavily, I walked about five minutes to the other place. The omlette was really good and the coffee was decent. I also got a recommendation on where to buy an umbrella since I couldn’t take it anymore and I was about to carry all of my stuff to the train station. My umbrella came in handy for the rest of the day since it pretty much didn’t stop. I got my AirBnb all cleaned up and my stuff packed and got lost getting to the train station. I saw some little trains that I thought I was going on but no, I was going from the big train station. Oops. I still arrived really early and took an earlier than expected train to Jurmala.
The food is very good and you have lots of options for great places. You could definitely spend a lot more money in Riga if you eat out for every meal and if you drink alcohol. Prices are fairly inexpensive overall. I could have stayed longer, but you could also stay here for a shorter period of time and get the feel.
Money I Spent in Riga:
Accommodations: $120 for 3 nights (AirBnB)
Coffee: $20 ($5 for a Large Cappuccino/Latte, $3 for Smalls)
Food/Bottled Water: $35 (Golden $8, El Santo $7, Hesburger $4, Lido $8, grocery store $4, Double Coffee)
Transportation: $2 (Train to Jurmala $2)
Sight Seeing: $8 (Free Walking Tour Tip)
If you haven’t signed up for AirBnb, sign up using this link and when you take your first trip, we could both get a little kickback credit, you get $40 off your first trip. AirBnB Credit You have to click the link here for it to work though.
The place that I stayed in Jurmala, Latvia, I only paid $45 for 4 nights because of travel credits I received from sharing Airbnb with some friends. Crazy huh!!!???