After saying goodbye to Tallinn, it was off to Riga
. We stayed in Old Riga where the streets wind in every direction and are more confusing then the streets of Old Town in Tallinn. In Riga, Nico has a friend who was kind enough to act as our tour guide through the city. The next day she took us around Old Riga and the Art Nouveau area in the city. After seeing most of the sites in the morning we took a short train ride out to Jurmala. Jurmala is a small town that is full of summer getaway houses located on the Baltic. Favored by the wealthy from the USSR, the location is still popular among Russian tourists. We spent the afternoon wandering along the beach and through the town since it was so warm out.
The next day Nico and I took a train out to Cesis
, a small town east of Riga. The main attraction of Cesis is the castle ruins. The castle was built back in the early 1200's by German crusaders. It was surprising how much of the ruins still remain. At the castle there is also a statue of Lenin, complete in a wooden coffin. After our day in Cesis we headed back to Riga to do some more exploring of Old Riga. Sadly, that was the last day of our trip. The next day we flew back to Stockhlm to catch our night bus to Umeå.
I enjoyed the little vacation from vacation I got. I found it most interesting in Estonia and Latvia how the modern is clashing with past Soviet ideals. There are visual reminders of that all over the place.
art nouveau buildings
It was funny crossing the Estonia/Latvia border. All that remains is a graveyard of concrete structures; you just drive right through. I will miss the cheapness in those countries; cheap at least compared to Sweden! I'll miss going to fun restaurants with good food. Sweden is definitely lacking some good food for a cheap price. I will also dearly miss my hot chocolate at fika time. Most of the time whenever I ordered one that was exactly what I got; a small cup full of thick hot chocolate with nothing else added. It was definitely an enjoyable, relaxed vacation that ended way to soon. Nico and I kept joking that it was good thing we bought return tickets because we probably wouldn't have gone back for a few more days. Needless to say, that is not my last trip; I think I've really caught the travel bug!