Author: Yellow Duckie
If it's not because there is no cheaper way to travel to St Petersburg than taking Ryan air to Riga and head off to St Petersburg with Air Baltic from Riga, I would have missed this ex-Soviet Union country. Hardly heard much of it's existence (Due to my ignorance), I had absolutely no idea what to expect.
Armed with lonely planet under our belts, we are pretty sure that we will get along find. Taking the cheapest mode (the great PUBLIC Transport) of getting from the Airport to City town, we were excited to have saved a great deal by paying only 0.40 Lats ( equivalent to about 2.90 MYR) per person in comparison to 5 Lats per pax! Just walk across to the car park of the airport and catch bus 22.
The bus ride itself reveals alot about the city hidden sight: the area where real human live. I can't help but to notice the air of abandonment. All the building seems old, abandoned and restoration is probably not in the city council TTD (Things To Do) List. Public transportation in Riga, isn't all that pleasant as it appears dirty and usually carries a fowl urine smell.
The place we choose to stay is an excellent hostel which has a mixture of private room and dorm room at reasonable prices. Location is not exactly in town but it's not that far off either. For the price we paid 57 Euro per night for 3, you will be rewarded with clean room, bathrooom and an excellent breakfast (which is included in the room rate) in a 5-star communal breakfast room. I have no complains.

After learning that the Latvians only gain their independence from the Russia in 1991, it explains alot about the sense of abandonment I felt about this place. Being part of the EU, it sure did alot in improving the life of the Latvian. The Russian influence however did not leave the country as more than half of the population are Russian. However, the people are far more cheerful than the Russian, that I am sure.
What has this town got to offer?
1. Beautiful park along the Pilsetas Kanal
( A canal that run across the city center dividing the new and the old Town)

2. The Old town
Walk along the cobbled stone pathways and crosses off the historical buildings in your map along the way.
Amber: Famous sourvenirs sold in Latvia

Live street performance

My Favourite Building: The Black House

3. Art Nouveau
Plaster of human face with exxagerated facial expression - that's what I would call it. Although this art is originally from France, it is much more expressed here in Latvia than anywhere else. The buildings here reminds me alot of those in Stockholm, however it is quite obvious that the Latvians takes more effort in beautifying compared to the Swedes. It puts the plan colourful black-roofed buildings in Stockholm to shame.

4. Dinner at Lido
Lido is a chain store like Marche. There is a buffet display of food available and you pay for what you take. We were advised to try to one at Atputas Center ( the Amusement park). With ample of time in our hand we decided to look for it and glad that we actually did. A tram ride of 15 mins from the Central Market will take you to the entrance of the Atputas Center. Upon arrival. we thought we went to the wrong place, abandon buildings or seems to be abandoned, around us until we saw the fairly huge sign that point us to where the amusement park. It's like a paradise hidden behind the slump! Dinner was in fact, enjoyable and delicious!

Try the purplish Latvian cold soup (Beet root, milk, Dill). It;s actually quite good.

5. Central Market
A visit to the Central Market is NOT to be missed. Here you will get a good feel of how the local live and be swept of by the colours in this market! Simply amazing. The size of the market itself is something to behold. It is I believe one of the biggest market in Europe. Visiting the central market makes you want to own a kitchen in Riga so that you could buy the fresh meat and vegetable in preparation for a Feast! The market is comfortable to shop in and it is really clean!

Things to check out while in Riga:
~The Latvian Chocolate, Laima. Personally , I still prefer my favourite Lindt as the chocolate here lacks of milk but hey, when you are in town, try out what the country boast of!
~ Pelmeni: Russian Dumpling, you can get a huge bowl for a reasonable price.
~Stockmann: Riga Local supermarket. The one in City Center ( where Bus 22 drops you on your journey from Airport) has got a HUGE selection of cooked meals and not to mention, delicious too. We got 6 pieces of roast chickens and 10 pieces of potatoes costed us only about 5 Lats! It served as an excellent dinner for 3 of us. $$$ savings :)

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