Saying goodbye to Tallinn and my cheapest budget to date I boarded a bus bound for Riga where the currency to follow is the Latvian Lat. A deceiving currency given its conversion rate to the aussie dollar, made worse still due to my over indulgence in alcohol at the hostel bar.
It wasn’t all down to my reduced functionality though, Riga is top English Stag Territory and as such prices seem to be on the up and up for one and all. I’m all for a good time but those stag party boys just seem to loose all sense of brain function at times, luckily I arrived on the Sunday and avoided most of their antics and got to enjoy my time here with some more interesting backpackers.
|Day||Transport||Hostel||Attractions||Breakfast||Lunch||Dinner||Misc||Total LVL||Total $AU|
A 4-5 hour bus ride to Riga on the fanciest bus I’ve ever seen set me back 12.40 Lats. Given the free wifi and coffee machine for the entire trip I’d say I really was on a bargin at $25 AUD (Check out LUX Express if your travelling in that area).
Otherwise Riga is all about getting your walk on and its well worth it. I saw some beautiful buildings and sights just roaming the streets.
The first night was slightly more (9 Lats) compared to the rest of my stay (6.9 Lats) due to it being a weekend. Run by an Aussie and his Latvian girlfriend I had a ball staying here thanks to the other hostel folk. The poor weather forced me to spent more time inside than I did outside so it was great to have a really relaxed place to hang out. On the second night the hostel owners even sprung for pizza so how can you go wrong?
It was very much a party hostel but saying that my only real annoyance was the showers could have done with a bit more ventilation (gotta love drying yourself and feeling like your getting nowhere).
Poor weather really drowned out my will to explore but I did make time for the free walking tour (Tipped 10 Lats) and a look into the Occupation Museum (free entry). Oh and I had to take a look up the only building (Latvian Academy of Sciences) in Riga that still has the Hammer and Sickle left over from Soviet times (0.5 lats entry).
I covered all the bases in the food department while in Riga. Cheap take out, cooking at the hostel and eating out at a traditional local restaurant. The best meal by far was the local restaurant but don’t ask me what I ate as I still don’t have a clue, I think it was better that way to be honest.
Continuing my boozing ways from Estonia I found myself drinking till morning my first night with an Irish group. The second night saw another group of us drink the hostel dry of beer by 1am which on the up side got us free Apple Pie shots (delicious) and a much needed early-ish night. The final night found a group of us enjoying a couple of brews a top the SkyBar before relaxing at the hostel again with their topped up beer supply.
At around 30 Lats for the 3 days ($62.5AUD) you’d think wow you lightweight I spend more than that in one night out drinking. The thing is, a beer was costing me around 0.6 Lats or less so thats a little over $1 AUD a go. Now you see the problem my liver was under?
Total Cost for Riga
Three rather wet days in Riga put a dent in my overall experience so you would think I spent very little. The reality was I spent a lot more than I ever realised as the total came in at 127.7 Lats or 266.03 AUD (at an exchange rate of 0.48 Lats = 1 AUD). An average of $88.76 AUD a day which when you compare it to my Paris Budget was almost identical and a long way off the cheap $50 AUD a day I had just spent in Tallinn. Crazy given I was in Eastern Europe where you normally associate things as cheap huh.
As a guide comparing my expenses to today’s exchange rate, leaving Australia now (November 2014) it would cost me $257.55 AUD. I have to also amend this data because as of the start of 2014 Latvia adopted the Euro and said goodbye to the Lat for good. This means the above data may now no longer be as relevant as it once was. So please use this as a guide only and should you notice any obvious cost difference do let me know.
Looking at it now my hostel was costing me on average nearly $16 AUD a night, the bus trip to Riga was $25 AUD and then you have all the food I consumed along with the drink and it did add up quick. I sure do regret tipping 10 Lats for the free walking tour now and can only think I thought it was $5 AUD and not really the $20 that it turned out to be as I really didn’t like the guide.
Regardless I had fun in the end and had I not been drinking so hard I could easily have gotten away with a lot less. I might have even been tempted enough to try out the AK47 shooting tour at 35 Lats if I’d been a good boy and not boozed my money away.
If I was to look at it from a Cost vs Fun Had scenario then I believe I got away cheaply. Of all the fun things I got up to how can you beat sitting in the common room of your hostel with people from Germany, England, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy and me the solo Aussie as we laugh our heads off at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Update from someone currently in Riga (November 2014): the prices have significantly increased since changing to the Euro. We’ve been getting beer at the hostel bar for €1.50 at happy hour, but it can be double that at other bars. Shots are about €3 A group of people at the hostel ordered 3 pizzas to be delivered for €55. Granted each pizza was the size of a double pop up tent (still folded).