Before I had an itinerary for this second week of vacation, I was fishing around for ideas of where to go/how much time to spend. As I was already planning on going to Estonia, some of the feedback fell along the lines of “Oh, you really should check out Riga!”. Fast forward to about a month later, and boom, that’s exactly where I found myself!
To start, saying goodbye to the awesome people I met at the hostel was tough. Despite being there for just over two days, I met some fantastic folks, not to mention that the hostel itself legitimately felt like home. Anyways, after taking one last sad glance at it, I caught the city bus that took me to the main bus station. I admittedly was somewhat afraid, irrationally so, as hindsight proved, that I would go to the wrong place. However, that was not the case-it was very modern and easy. Back at the hostel, I was contemplating buying a ticket online in advance, but in what essentially was a YOLO moment, I decided to wait until I was at the counter. This could have ended up turning into an inconvenience in getting to Latvia’s capital, but I got the very last ticket for the departure time; I did get very lucky, much to my relief. I didn’t have much of an idea of what I was literally getting into, but I was very happy to find out that there was wifi (thus enabling me to painfully type up the previous day’s post on my phone; my fingers weren’t happy with me for that), a drink machine (hello, needed coffee!), and naturally, a bathroom. I also want to mention that there was a solid selection of movies available to watch, which was reminiscent of in-flight selections on planes. At any rate, the trip to Riga took about five hours, which honestly sped by faster than I ever thought it would.
Once I touched down on Latvian soil, I had to get to my hostel. This was trickier than I had hoped for, as it a) wasn’t quite in Old Town as I thought it was and b) the sign to it was highly inconspicuous. I hired a bicycle taxi to take me there, and we were going all over before his eagle eyes spotted it. Like, we literally spent a good ten minutes going back and forth in front of it. Needless to say, I have him a 50% top for going the extra mile in helping me. (Funnily enough, I ran into him by accident as I was walking around in Old Town later that evening. He also pointed me to a solid place for food and beer. Easily one of the best/nicest locals I’ve met in both countries during the duration of this trip.) Coming from the vibrant environment in Tallinn, this hostel was a buzzkill. I say that in the sense that it wasn’t a place you go to meet others and hang out, but simply a place to sleep at, if that makes sense. I paid a mere €10, which wasn’t bad though. Noise also was an issue given that the room overlooked the street, but my mom, in her infinite wisdom, had given me ear plugs, which were absolutely vital.
I will preface this by saying that I only had about a day at most between arrival and departure times, so that limited my ability to see and do things. One day I will come back to Riga and explore more, but I was limited in what I could do. So, all I did was to walk around and take in the sights. While some of you reading this may be disappointed in my choice, soaking in the atmosphere took up the rest of the evening/night. One of the (unintentional, in this case) highlights was running into all the Dutchmen in that part of the city. To explain, the Netherlands was playing Latvia for the European Championship qualifiers that night, hence the highly visible fan presence. I somehow ended up with a Team Netherlands balloon, at least temporarily, and for a few moments I was soaked up in the fervor. After that, I strolled around for a bit more before heading back to the hostel for the night.
Again, I do regret not doing more that night. However, since I arrived later in the evening, options were limited. However, the next time I’m there, there will be many more opportunities to explore!