Riga Journals

Riga - The Bad Boy of the Baltics

Best of IgoUgo

A September 2007 trip to Riga by Liam Hetherington

Museum of the Occupation of Latvia Photo, Riga, Latvia More Photos
Quote: The capital of Latvia combines grown-up urban attitude with a pretty historical core. It is a city whose time truly has come.

Riga - The Bad Boy of the Baltics

Best Of IgoUgo

Overview

Alleyway, Riga Photo, Riga, Latvia
Quote:
Riga, the largest city in the Baltic States, is now firmly on the tourist map. This bustling metropolis has an attitude that I found lacking in pretty Tallinn or schizophrenic Vilnius. It is a town which marries the enchanting streets of its old town (Vecrīga), the Jugenstil (Art Nouveau) architecture of independence (seen best in Doma Lauk and the Freedom Monument), and a plethora of pubs, bars and nightclubs to enchanting effect. It may not have the sheer historical glamour of Prague or Krakow, but for its manageable size I honestly believe it compares favourably to, say, Budapest or Warsaw. There is a lack of 'must-see' sites. The joy is in wandering the winding streets and relaxi...Read More

Alus Sēta

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant | "Alus Sēta"

A Light Latvian Lunch Photo, Riga, Latvia
Quote:
Hungry from our flight, Alus Sēta was the first place we stumbled upon. To the left off Šķūņu iela, half way between St Peter's Church and the Dom we found this pub. I'm not sure whether anyone is seriously going to be convinced at the authenticity of this place. Owned by the Lido chain it makes a stab for 'traditionalism' with its dark wood pannelling, stuffed game, besmocked staff, and terrible Latvian soft-rock soundtrack. What it actually achieves is a semi-plastic 'repro' feel. Still, while it is cheesy, it is as cheap as chips! There is no menu as such here. Instead there is a serve-yourself buffet. Upon entering, the intoxicating scent of chargrilled ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 9, 2007

Index Cafe

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Quote:
Whilst Riga is good for filling you up with hearty filling dishes and cheap booze, the cuisine can rarely be described as healthy. Index Cafe is a god-send then. Located on the right-hand side of the main Brivibas Bulvari as it stretches north-east into the New Town from the Freedom Monument, Index Cafe is a bright and modern place. Light pours through the large windows, and some of the inbuilt nooks containing table and benches are very funky. I found this the best place to come for more metropolitan fare. They do a range of coffees if that is what takes your fancy. Myself, I opted to try to get some of my '5-a-day' with a large orange juice. They had a complicated orange-squashing juice...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 16, 2007

Belle Epoque

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Belle Epoque...Two Vodkas Please... Photo, Riga, Latvia
Quote:
Hidden (and I do mean hidden!) in the heart of the old town is one of Riga's best kept secrets. I actually feel that I shouldn't be telling you about this place... Down a flight of steps is a long narrow cellar. This is Belle Epoque - home to some of the cheapest drinks in Riga. The decoration is minimal - some Matisse and Moulin Rouge prints on the walls, and images of fin de siecle Montmartre. Dominating the room is the long bar stretching the length of the cellar. Here friendly bartenders will sort you out with whatever you require - Lāčplēsis beer, vodka, flaming sambucas, absinthe cocktails, bottles of Riga sparkling wine. The house speciality is a cocktail called 'Pir...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 9, 2007

Shot Cafe

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Shots at Shot cafe Photo, Riga, Latvia
Quote:
After a hard day's firing off semi-automatic weaponry, there is really only one place to go - Shot Cafe. It is located on Torna Iela in the Jekabu Kuzarmas (St James's Barracks), a 200m long block built by the Swedes in the 17th Century against the northern wall of the old town. Shiny tables and chairs spill out onto the plaza outside the Powder Tower (now home to the Latvian War Museum). So really, where better? Sitting outside in the sun on a pedestrianised street of boutiques is a good place to loaf and people-watch. Table service was provided by a wry and pretty waitress, who we convinced ourselves was warming to us. The beer on tap here is a very drinkable lager called Lāčp...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 9, 2007

Central Market

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Central Market Photo, Riga, Latvia
Quote:
Riga has one of the most instantly-recognisable markets in Europe. Just to the south-east of the old town, under the railway line and beyond the bus depot you cannot fail to see five large glass-fronted buildings, each the shape of a Roses caramel keg. This is the central market. It's very appearance is historic. The domed halls were originally hangars for zeppelins, built during the first world war near Liepaja on the coast by the Germans. They were relocated to Riga following independence, given a bit of a spritz, and have held the main market through liberty, war, Cold War, and liberty once more. The market is interesting on a purely touristic basis. Here you can see the entire spectru...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 9, 2007

Central Market
Pragas Iela
Riga, Latvia

Freedom Monument

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "The Freedom Monument"

Freedom Monument Photo, Riga, Latvia
Quote:
The symbol of Latvian independence, the Freedom Monument is now 72 years old. Sadly, it has only known freedom for 21 of those years - 1935-40, and 1991 to the present day. A soaring fluted column 50m tall supports the copper-green figure of 'Milda'. Milda was the most popular female first name during the interwar period, and the moniker has somehow stuck. Clad in a flowing belted smock, and looking curvaceously gravid, the proudly benevolent figure holds aloft three stars. The stars represent the three regions of Latgale, Kurzeme, and Vidzeme. Around its base are carvings symbolizing the path to liberty. For me however, the images of brawny men, shirts torn open, snapping their fetters wi...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 16, 2007

Freedom Monument
Brivibas bulvaris
Riga, Latvia

Museum of the Occupation of Latvia

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Museum of the Occupation of Latvia Photo, Riga, Latvia
Quote:
The harrowing Museum of the Occupation of Latvia (Latvijas okupacijas muzejs) leaves the tourist with no excuse not to visit. It is prominently situated on Ratslaukums. It is highly noticeable (a raised oblong grenade-like building). And it is free to enter. However, it is very absorbing, and a visit will take 60-90 minutes of your day. Yet a tour will shed a new perspective on the bustling party city that is Riga today. The museum starts with the Molotov-Ribbentrop 'Pact of Devils' signed on 23rd August 1939. The 'secret protocols' of this treaty divided eastern Europe up into 'spheres of influence' for Hitler and Stalin as every schoolchild knows. What the museum then proceeds to do is e...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 16, 2007

Museum of the Occupation of Latvia
Latviesu strelnieku laukums 1
Riga, Latvia

Shooting In Riga

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Quote:
John Lennon was right. Happiness truly is a warm gun. In Riga with a group of lads, it was maybe inevitable that we would end up gravitating towards an afternoon playing with guns. There are numerous tours available in the city advertising shooting excursions, usually emblazoned with a picture of the world's most famous rifle, the Soviet-made AK-47 ("The very best there is. When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherf**ker in the room. Accept no substitutes" to quote Samuel L. Jackson). Rather than booking a tour, we decided to make our own way to find Regro S shooting. This necessitated a tram ride across the river into Pardaugava, and then a period of wandering tr...Read More