After a marathon drinking session the night before I was surprised to wake and not be as sick as a dog. Relishing that fact as I passed a couple of my irish drinking buddies from the night before who were obviously not at their best, I headed out for food and to find the meeting point that would take me on the free walking tour of Riga.
Wandering the few streets to the start of the tour I prayed the dark rain clouds I coud see in the distance would stay away and not take me back to the rainy days that hampered my exploration of Amsterdam just weeks ago. The cold I could deal with but I was not prepared for another long day where I find myself soaked to the bone by the end of it.
As the tour was on a monday there was a greater than normal turn out (in europe I have learnt church’s museums, the lot close on a monday) which I hoped would not hamper the strangely quiet tour guide for the next couple of hours.
Setting off we headed out of the Old Town center of Riga to discover what else there was to see. Stopping at the huge markets where you are advised to watch your pockets, the local markets where your guaranteed to buy back your stolen bike, radio, tv from the guy who stole it from you to begin with and a church building that despite being burnt down several times was rebuilt everytime entirely from wood.
We also spied one of the remaing hang overs from soviet times the hammer and sickel that adorns the aptly named stalin’s birthday cake (science building). The view from the top is nice but when you can enter the hotel that has a skybar a short distance away for free its less of an incentive to pay for it.
The tour also points out the old KGB buildings which like in Tallinn are completey boarded up, which in my mind is a good decision. After all who would want to work in a building where so many evils were committed?
Finishing the tour near the old theatre I made my way to check out the view from the skybar only to find it’s opening hours are not till later in the day. Still with the weather in better than expected conditions I made for the streets and grabbed a few snaps as I snaked my way back to the hostel for a bit of R n R.
As always resting in the hostel common room results in new friends. It was here that I met the Luxembourg gang along with a sprinkling of other travellers from England, Italy, The Netherlands and Denmark. For the rest of the night our motley crew of travellers drank the night away. Creating many a joke with the poor Luxembourg folk about who was left in their country given so many of them were in Riga with us and hoping someone had set the alarm on the country to keep it safe while they were gone.
This was also the location for my first Eurovision Song Contest vieiwing from Europe, and let me tell you its even funnier when your surrounded by people from the countries represented.
Unfortunately this was also the location of my first real horror while travelling. To say I was hurt would have been an understatement. You see our crew of drinkers had managed to drink the hostel out of beer. Sure they tried to satisfy us with something called a beershake (stay away people, stay far away). The rather tasty apple pie shots however did appease us for a short while. Still with no drink to continue our banter, we headed for bed with plans to try out a local restaurant tomorrow and venture up to the skybar to see the view of Riga at night.