Lazy days of Riga
Riga Travel Blog› entry 40 of 113 › view all entries
I left Klaipeda and my companions on a bus for Latvia. It was nice to travel with the girls and a huge relief to have someone else do the planning for a while. The worst part of traveling alone is being stuck with the headache and responsibility of decision-making in its entirety. Charlotte did a great job of researching with her guidebook, and I more than happily sat back and went with the flow, giving my brain a little break.
The bus ride to Riga, Latvia's capital, took about five hours. My couchsurfing host was a girl named Kristine. She's 26, so laid-back and cool it's amazing, and impressively owns two hostels. We spent our time divided between those hostels and her apartment during my week-long stay .
I was less of a tourist in Riga than I've been the whole trip. I, of course, did my best to explore the old town and enjoy the six hundred-year-old architecture, but I spent most of my time lounging with Kristine and her friends. It was like I had three hosts. We were inseparable from Gita -- a hostel employee -- and Keiko -- an American who hasn't lived there for five years and doesn't plan to return. He met Kristine when they both lived and worked in Cork, Ireland. Now he's in Latvia for 6 months to learn the language and hang with friends before moving on to Japan. I envy his true commitment to going with the flow of life and really experiencing other cultures. I just couldn't give up family and friends back home so easily or permanently.
We filled up most of our evenings celebrating name days.
It was amazingly comfortable hanging out with this group. I suppose it didn't hurt to have Keiko as another native english-speaker and newbie to the country. His enthusiasm for learning the language and culture rubbed off, as well as his off-the-wall sense of humor. There was an immediate group dynamic of giving shit--long ago established by Kristine and Keiko in Ireland--and for that I'm grateful. I can't truly be friends with someone if I can't make fun of them every once in awhile. Is that wrong?
They were disappointed when I said I'd be leaving after only one week. It would be easy to stay here and continue to hang with my ready-made group of friends. But in some ways, this needs to be Keiko's experience. There can only be one token american in each group, and that spot was already filled. So one week in Latvia, it is.