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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

"No one can have a higher opinion of him than I have, and I think he's a dirty little beast." - W. S. Gilbert


Baltics trip
Day 7 - 22nd May - Riga, Latvia
(Part 5)

Money changes in Riga (and indeed most of the Baltics) were very picky. US notes where Bejamin Franklin had a small head were unacceptable to some (old notes), and marked notes (those with a small stamp on them) got a 5% commission levied.

St Peter's




Entrance to St John's Courtyard

St John's Courtyard

While we rested here, over Cider and Kvass (and maybe Beer - I forget) we had an opportunity to read some of the tourist information on Riga.

August 23 - The local Communist Party is banned.
July 6 - US President Bill Clinton stops in Riga for a whopping six-hour state visit.
August 31 - The last Soviet troops pull out of Latvia and Estonia. Some 500 officers stay to operate the Skrunda early warning radar station until 1998.
May 4 - The Skrunda radar station is dynamited to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the restoration of independence"
They really know how to do things in style!

"(Restaurant reviews)
Vegetarian: Rama. This place is popular among the thrifty, those seeking enlightenment and, of course, vegetarians... The rice, cabbage and tofu dishes.. range in taste from bland to delicious
Vietnamese. Hanoja. Asia is a land steeped in mystery, but Hanoi is a conundrum of the Orient in Latvia... Although it[']s... been open for ages, it's often empty at lunchtime. So what's the secret to its longevity? Pho, a staple soup of Vietnam, was a little light on beef and noodles and many of the other dishes looked suspiciously Baltic in nature and presentation. Perhaps offerings to the shrine at the far end of the restaurant keep them afloat?"
I sense a British hand here

"Adult entertainment
Dolls. If the opera or ballet bored you stiff, then cross the street to Dolls for a different sort of entertainment that just might leave you a bit more stimulated. This classy place offers a self-proclaimed ‘elegant’ striptease show... and even a restaurant if you have a hunger of a different kind.
Labi. This sex shop a great choice if you’re one of this planet’s many financially
challenged lonely males. Sexy private dances that last for ten minutes can be had for only 6Ls or you can splurge on 40-minute erotic massage for 3OLs. If nothing else, it’s a good place to buy porn. Open 24hrs.
Marquis de Sade. The name would appear to give a good indication of what to expect here. In other words, it’s not the place to bring the girlfriend on birthdays or anniversaries for candlelight and romance. Unlike other strip clubs in Riga, this one also offers food to go long with the erotic entertainment, not to mention an S&M room."

"St. Saviour's... This little church commissioned by British traders living in Riga was built in 1857 on a shipload of English soil specially imported from the UK."

Exit from courtyard

Wth is a "Graffiti Battle"?!


Small Guild Hall. The guild dates from the 13th century but the building the 19th. It's now used for arts events.

Night club. A kiss, and a hint of something more...

We wanted to try a medieval restaurant, Rozengrals (the only authentic one in Riga), but it was fully booked until 10pm so we made a booking for lunch the next day.

Rozengrals. Notice it's underground. They really like underground restaurants in the Baltics.

"Black Magic" - Ye Olde Shop

Police van cum information centre. YC suggested, impossibly, that they were doing surveillance. But maybe what they say in Chinese dramas is right - the most dangerous place is also the safest place.

For dinner we went to a pseudo-Medieval place (IIRC). It was very very good - the best restaurant so far.

Pork fillets with blackcurrent and other-fruits sauce

Fried Herring with "bileberry" (bilberry) jam, bacon and potato

Laima (Chocolate) clock (1924), where lovers used to meet.
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