Riga Journals

The Diversity of Riga

An August 1998 trip to Riga by unorthodox traveler

Latvia Photo, Riga, Latvia More Photos
Quote: Riga, the capital of Latvia (population 830,000) is an exciting, vibrant city, where, at least during the summer months, the nightlife/party atmosphere lasts into the wee, wee hours of the morning. But there is much more to Riga than its night life so read on.

The Diversity of Riga

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Overview

Central Square Photo, Riga, Latvia
Quote:
One interesting thing about Riga is that less than half of its people are ethnic Latvians,(40%) while Russians make up 44%, the majority of whom are not citizens. This situation has created some tensions within the city but certainly is no threat to the traveller. I certainly felt very safe, even walking back to my hotel at 1 am in the morning. Riga has an "Old City", which to me, was the most appealing part of being in Riga. Must see places include three churches: St. Peter's, the Dome Cathedral(must climb to the tower) and St. Jacobs. The Central Market is a fascinating place, housed in five very large zeppelin hangers spread over many acres. Hanging out at the many ...Read More

Arena

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Hotel

Quote:
This place is right in the heart of the Old City...you look out your window and you experience, untouched, buildings going back hundreds of years. This 45 bed hotel is occupied by clowns in the winter,yes, you heard right, clowns. The place is owned by a circus and opens up rooms during the summer. This place has small rooms, a community shower, which was dirty, and a dreary atmosphere in the hallways. The lady manager keeps the front door locked so you need to ring the bell to re-enter the place. The good news is that this place is dirt CHEAP. The room cost me $5 a night...yes, $5...in the heart of the historical district. If you don''t mind the above shortcomings and...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 29, 2000

Arena
Palasta 5
Riga, Latvia
7228583

Marrutku Maizites

Restaurant

Quote:
This is a funky Soviet cafe with drab walls, plastic cups, and just o.k. sandwiches.

But the prices are dirt cheap, especially the vodka.

The attraction is that this place is so different...you can actually pretend that your back in the days of the old Soviet Union and the people who frequent this place are different, strange, interesting...of course, there are those tourists, like myself, who add to the international flavor.

Here I had my first drink of "black magic" which I write about in another journal entry.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 29, 2000

Marrutku Maizites
Krama 4
Riga, Latvia

Central Market

Attraction

Quote:
This is one, perhaps, the most interesting central markets that I have visited in my many years of travelling.

This market is housed in five very large zeppelin hangers near the bus station. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of stands, selling fresh fruits and veggies, meats (along with flies..not a very clean place), clothing, alcohol,tobacco,...you name it, I think it's here.

It's fascinating just walking around this place, full of shoppers. You experience a flavor, an atmosphere of this culture and its people.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 29, 2000

Central Market
Pragas Iela
Riga, Latvia

Walking Tour

Attraction

Quote:
To get a good feel for this city, spend a morning or afternoon visiting the following places...you can do this in 3-4 hours, depending on your interests of course.

Take the lift up to the tower of St. Peter's Church which will give you a commanding view of Old Riga. Visit the Doma laukums with its interesting winding passageways. While walking you will see many old German buildings going back to the 17th century and earlier. Walk through the many parks and check out the monuments and statutes. Visit the Riga Castle on Pls laukums, which dates from 1330.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 29, 2000

Walking Tour
Old City
Riga, Latvia

St.Saviour's Church

Attraction

St.Saviour's Church Photo, Riga, Latvia
Quote:
This interesting red-brick church was built in 1857 by a group of British traders on 30 feet of British soil brought over as ballast in the ships transporting the building material. During the Soviet years, this church was a disco.

Today there is a vibrant community of believers who belong to the Church of England. I visited here twice, found the members warm and friendly. I also attended a classical concert here (Bach) one evening which was a highlight of my visit to Riga.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 29, 2000

St.Saviour's Church
Pils iela
Riga, Latvia

Riga Ghetto

Attraction

Quote:
For those of you interested in Jewish history, this is a must see experience.

About 5000 Jews were among the thousands of Latvians deported to Siberia by the Soviets from 1940-41. When the city fell to the Germans, new agressive atrocities began with hundreds of Jews being executed, being blamed on trumped up charges of killing some Germans. Many Jews wre forced to scrub the bloodstains from the site with toothbrushes. A few days later 300 Jews were taken from the streets and locked in their synagogue. Grenades were then thrown through the windows and the place caught on fire, killing everyone in the synagogue.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 29, 2000

Riga Ghetto
Maskavas
Riga, Latvia

Black Magic

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Story/Tip

Black Magic Photo, Riga, Latvia
Quote:
Black Magic is a very strong drink, produced in Latvia, and nowhere else in the world, since 1755. At the Cafe, Marrutku Maizites, I was introduced to this drink, with a warning that I had better have a strong heart. What's in this drink??? Who really knows...its recipe remains a closely guarded secret. Some of the ingredients include oak bark, orange peel,wormwood and linden blossoms and apparently around 25 other things unknown to the drinker of this concoction. The claim is that this drink settles your stomach, and stops a cold in its tracks. I spoke to a number of old Latvians who all claimed that this drink has kept them alive. Stop at any stand in the city and yo...Read More