We’ve been at large again.
This time our flight was heading for the most easterly point in Europe that I’ve been to so far. This particular trip was a Christmas present from the lovely Mrs A (she does good presents) to Riga.
The flight was a little delayed so we amused ourselves in the fun-factory that is Luton airport by putting on far too much perfume/aftershave whilst avoiding the ever watchful sales assistants (or anti-freebie Stazi as I like to think of them). In the absence of free whisky samples it’s the best we could find to fill the time.
Eventually our flight got sorted; a couples of hours and the smoothest landing I have ever experienced later, we found ourselves wandering out of the terminal building at Riga international in search of a bus. We picked one that looked about right, stumped up a couple of Euro and waited to see if we’d chosen the right one. Half an hour’s worth of traffic, bridges and communist era scenery later we walked into the reception of the Wellton hotel and spa. Located right by the old town, I can’t recommend them enough if you’re ever there. The staff were all nothing short of excellent, they even cheerfully put us into a different room after our first night just so we could have a better view:
See? Lovely isn’t it?
Also this is an example of breakfast:
Yes, that is indeed Champagne. At breakfast. Also, I apologise unreservedly for the placement of the comedy sausage. It didn’t even register until someone pointed it out with great glee on Facebook. Such is my circle of friends. The only complaint I have would be the Bahamian temperature in our room that made sleeping nigh on impossible, but I think there is some secret code for hoteliers that means the thermostat must NEVER be allowed to be set below something suitable for Old Nick’s sauna, so I’m resigned to it now.
Riga itself was (is) achingly beautiful, the old town particularly was glorious – the architecture, public art and parks were fantastic. The mix of incredibly intricate art nouveau buildings and brutally austere soviet monuments was fascinating.
The history of the region was something that I wasn’t really too aware of until visiting a couple of the museums/tours dealing with Latvia’s rollercoaster past at the hands of several totalitarian regimes. To say the Latvian population suffered between the 40s and the 90s is a massive understatement. The tour of the Cheka (KGB) building is something that will stay with me for a long time. There was no gloss or polish put on anything. It was truly grim, even for a visit of a couple of hours.
The food there was great and relatively cheap. Mrs A played a blinder with her late entry in the ‘Adventurous Dinner’ award competition, for this burger:
Yes, it really was that colour. It tasted ace too.
So now, after a short bus ride and another round of perfume/aftershave/questionable face goop at the airport, I’m writing this on the plane to sunny Luton. We will sleep in our own bed (at a mercifully sensible temperature) tonight before heading north tomorrow for a couple of days in Glasgow.