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Feb 2020 - Riga (Latvia)

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

The bus from Vilnius to Riga was around 4hrs through a fairly unremarkable landscape dominated by flat, open pasture land and pine forests with that forlorn, de-saturated winter look.

It was just a 5min walk from the bus station to my Airbnb. I specifically chose this location because my next trip was also by bus from the same station. This time I had a very modern apartment with free Netflix that I would end up using pretty heavily. Sometimes you need to just ignore the historical UNESCO splendor and absorb some real culture.

The Daugava River, Riga

The first day here my stomach troubles were still keeping me entertained and the weather average ... very strong winds, rain and temperatures around 4c ("feels like temp" below freezing). Somehow I still ended up walking about 8km (return) to the former KGB/NKVD prison called the "Corner House". I didn't realise this place required booking but somehow I booked one of the last 2 tour spots using my phone on the spot. The tour takes you through the interrogation rooms and cells and explains how things operated. Let's just say it was an unpleasant place to be a prisoner.

Characters of Riga - en route to the Corner House
The two sided mirror in the interrogation room - "did that mirror just cough?"

The following day was an interesting one. It started by visiting the largest indoor market in Europe, so big it takes up four former Zeppelin hangers; you can imagine how big a hangar has to be for a Zeppelin, then multiply by four. Safe to say this market has everything, however by this stage a particular virus was coming onto the scene so I didn't spend long here.

A lot fish on offer in the Baltic States

Where there's fish, there's these

Tones of Riga's enormous Central Market

From the market I walked to a lesser known and quite gritty part of Riga called the Moscow District. I had read that each district in Riga is named after the closest, large international capital city but can't seem to confirm that as fact. In any case, the Moscow District is really interesting for street photography. It's full of traditional wooden houses and has a Soviet built copy of the Empire State Building (wtf).

Traditional house in the Moscow District

Grittier part of town but full of character
Street scene in Moscow District
Feline resident of the Moscow District

That afternoon and evening ght I walked through Riga old town centre (yes yes, also UNESCO) and was really impressed by the buildings, especially the super narrow spire of St Peter's Church which is 150m tall. Goes down as the pointiest church spire I've ever seen. These old town centres always ooze charm at night.

The famous House of the Blackheads
Riga old town, charm much?
The Three Brothers - the oldest housing complex in Riga, dated to 1400s
Like so many old towns in Europe, best seen at night
Medieval streets

On my final night I tried to do some long exposure shots at the river of the National Library building, surely one of the world's largest and most strangely shaped libraries. The traffic along the river was horrific and it took me nearly 10min to cross the 8 traffic lanes and 2 tram tracks. It was dicing with death .... later I found the underpass :-| I didn't end up getting much in terms of long exposures but did get some kinda cool street photography shots.

Riga National Library
Nice light and silhouettes for street photography

My stay here, like in Vilnius, was just 4 days - pretty short for me but it seemed an adequate period of time to get a good feel for the place. My next stop was a longer one, over a week in Tallinn. Another bus ride, this one 4.5hrs non-stop.

Some final photos from Riga...

Love in a time of Corona
Really love the trams in this part of Europe
In medieval times, death was never far away...
The Empire State Building of Riga
The spire of St Peter's Church

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