Riga – day 1

We arrived to Riga on the overnight train. Unfortunately again we didn’t get much sleep – this time the train was freezing cold, which I could deal with fine, but we also had a ‘roommate’ who was a serious chatty cathy or prima dona as Granny calls her! She only spoke Russian (well and Dutch and some other random languages – none of which were English!) She just yammered on to us about who knows what. Something about her being a famous singer – which she demonstrated for us by belting out some tunes and her mother being a famous pianist. She then told us how Latvians are skinny and Americans are fat and that Americans are crazy, etc etc. All of this with sign language mind you – but what she said was perfectly clear! Then she went on and on about how Riga is horrible and Tallinn is much better. She just kept doing this throat slicing thing which was creepy. She was 85 mind you and travelling on her own to Latvia where she lives but apparently hates. Poor thing. But by 5 a.m. with her incessent talking I was about to slice her throat myself!

We got to Riga we all loaded off the train. Our fellow travel partner Amit (who was on tour with us) was also on the train but in the upper class compartment while we were in second class! The three of us headed out to find a taxi. Of course no one would take us b/c both places were ‘too close’. Very annoying after a 15 hr train journey! But we did manage to find someone…still it was close to the price quoted by the other taxi’s anyhow. whatever. But I have to say that Amit was a very good gentleman. He always carried Granny’s bags when he was with us and even made her bed on our previous train journey. He was really sweet and it was too bad that him and Granny didn’t get to say proper goodbyes!

Finally made it to Sylvia’s and it was so good to see her and Charlotte! Sylvia’s apartment was adorable and our room was like a 5 star hotel! She had roses by the bed, bottled water, glasses and 3 guidebooks for our use! And.. the best part – the floor of the bathroom was heated! What a special treat. Specially after being so cold all night long on the train. Granny took a nice long hot shower to warm her bones back up while Sylvia set out breakfast for us. It was seriously a wonderful feeling being there and being treated so well.

After getting ready, we went out for a little walk in the neighborhood, which also is the famous Art Nouveau district. It was a beautiful sunny day and we took advantage of it by doing the whole circuit. The buildings were really beautiful and amazing. it is crazy to think that much of riga was in shambles only 5 years ago. It has only been since 1991 that they were given their independence from Russia. I don’t see as much of the communist mindset in Riga as we felt in Russia, but it is still there.

On our little tour, Sylvia took us to a little Latvian cafe type place that served traditional food. Luckily I have started eating fish, otherwise I am not sure I would have been able to eat anything there besides cold beetroot soup! But shockingly I ate my entire plate of food! I’m usually an insanely picky eater and will survive on snickers rather than eat stuff I don’t like, but I was able to eat everywhere we went on this trip and I was really proud of myself for that!

After lunch we continued our stroll, enjoyed Sylvia’s company and tried not to let our tiredness get in the way. I had a horrible headache by 6 and layed down for a nap and Granny was ready for bed by 8! Fun gals we are!! But I think we needed a mellow night to refresh ourselves after the tour and the train journey.
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