Stunning architecture in the Art Nouveau district of Riga
Prior to easter 2005, I was
searching for a destination for a European city break which would
provide a travel experience to a relatively-unknown city on a
favourable budget, and came up with the idea of visiting Tallinn, in
Estonia, where I spent 4 inspiring days over easter of that year. After
that enjoyable trip, I vowed to return to the region in order to check
out the rest of what the Baltic States had to offer, and the next port
of call was the Latvian capital city, Riga. By and large, Riga is
considered to be Baltic States' main hub of activity, and upon arrival,
a few brief glances around the cityscape in downtown Riga revealed
hints of what treats the city had in store.
Delicious food at Staburags restaurant - smoked pork ribs, a glass of local ale, and, as the menu put it 'potatoes like Grandma used to make'
reading about the destination enabled me to gain an insight into the
basic fabric of the city, but it struck me as a highly-developed city
which was going to take a certain amount of physical energy to trek
across in the short space of time I spent there. As the architectural
delights of the city proper unfolded, I began to realize just why
places of Riga's calibre are descended upon by those in the know, who
are equally keen to absorb the sheer scale of the city's urban beauty.
The Art Nouveau district is a joy to behold, and contains a plethora of
buildings done out in sparklingly fine Art Nouveau style, which made
for terrific photo opportunities, not to mention an inspiring hour or
two spent in the thick of urban terrain. Riga's landmark monuments and
structures, such as the Powder Tower, and Freedom Monument seeped into
my soul, as did the spectacular architectural gem the House of the
Blackheads, well worth seeing both in the daytime, and in the evening,
when it is illuminated, and equally striking.
Facade of the House of the Blackheads, stunning by day, or by night (when illuminated)
A night out at Nautilus
nightclub was a great way to spend a casual evening in Riga, by which
point I already felt fully acquainted with the city, and was partying
hard like the local revellers. A day trip to the Baltic Riviera seaside
town of Jurmala made for an interesting and pleasant escape route from
the confines of the city, and a stop-off at the Livonian aqua park on
the way back to the station somehow made it feel as if the city was as
complete as you could realistically expect it to be, in terms of public
ameneties. A trip to the Lithuanian capital city is already on the
cards for the near future, and it all goes to show how the magnetic
allure of two enjoyable city breaks in the region can influence an
impressionable tourist's set of travel plans.
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