Riga Pt 2.

19 05 2010

Thursday in Riga was cause for celebration.  It was my 30th Birthday, a day that I cannot believe has come around so quickly.  In fact the whole reason I was in Riga was because my Parents had paid for mine and H’s flights (thank you) and the hotel (Hanza Hotel by the way is very nice, and fairly cheap.  I would recommend it).

Hannah had bought me an amazingly cool Watch to add to my growing collection.  Dev, KP and May-Z had found me a spectacularly crap commemorative Prince William and Harry mug.  Bimbo and Fat Bob bought an oil burner to help me sleep, which I am a bit scared of trying incase I set fire to my curtains.

After a leisurely breakfast we made a plan to walk to the TV tower which is on it’s own separate island.  This meant that we had to walk over one of the massive bridges.  Which built during the Communist era is now crumbling and doesn’t look particularly safe, but it has some brilliant graffitti on it.  

The tower started looming large as we walked towards it and only got bigger.  It is the tallest structure in the Baltics at 328m.  We paid our money and travelled up in the weird slopey lift to a height of 92m where we got a great view and a tour in German.  I think that we understood a lot of it and found out the Riga has a population of One Million, that the windows are covered in Rust and that the tower is on Rabbit Island.  Exciting stuff.

After scaling the tower we headed towards the old town for a drink and a look around the Occupation Museum, which despite being incredibly interesting also throughly depressed me.  It depressed me so much in fact that had to go and have cocktails in the Cuban Bar.  Followed by more, posher cocktails in the Skyline bar on the 26th floor of a hotel, with fantastic views over the whole of Riga.

Dinner that night was a medieval feast in a 12 century cellar restaurant called Rozengrals.  All of the recipes that they use can be traced back to the 12th or 13th century.  The wine comes in Goblets and the beer in tankards, and your bread comes in a hessian sack.  I partook in the French Onion soup and then the Rabbit Stew.  Both were amazing and well worth the money that we spent on them.

Friday was slightly sad as none of us actually wanted to leave the un-seasonably warm city, and we had a slow mooch around the old town and ended up in the Sun museum, which is a collection of images of the sun from around the World.  This was made better by the fact that we had a great guide who talked us through the whole collection and afterwards we could go and paint our own suns. Mine was terrible, as I have no artistic talent what so ever, but we all had fun designing ours.

I loved Riga, and although I try and go somewhere different every time I go away I would go back there.  I suspect though that this will become more and more touristy as cheap flights go there.  This was already evident as we saw a couple of Stag and Hen parties there, letting the country down with their drunken behaviour (you shouldn’t be falling in a ditch at 2 in the afternoon).

I am putting more photo’s up on my photo Blog and as always there are more on Flickr.

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Riga Pt 1.

18 05 2010

Waking up at the crack of dawn last Tuesday the 5 of us, H, Bimbo, Dev, KP and I headed to Stanstead airport and boarded an as usual crowded plane. We did appear to be the only English passengers on the plane, with the rest being Latvians returning home to Riga. This may explain why that, when we landed a round of applause broke out… It wasn’t actually that bad a flight and I have definitely had worse landings.

After a crowded bus ride from hell we got to Riga old town and tried to find our hotel using two of the worst maps ever produced. We didn’t actually have too much trouble and dropped our bags off before we went in search of some food. We eventually decided on a little place near a church and has a superb meal for a few quid.

Feeling full we had a look around the town and got our bearings before we headed back to the hotel to check in, have a bit of a snooze and then go to the restaurant for a few beers and some food. This turned out to be a mistake, as we discovered Riga Black Balsam, a 45% proof beverage made of 24 different herbs, including Wormwood which gives Absinthe its weirdness.

This led to 2 things, the first being KP getting into an argument with a Finnish racist and Me proposing to H. What is even more surprising is that H said yeas, and so now I am getting married, which is really awesome (I won’t write any more about that here).

The next day with hangovers and in my case, a slightly wobbly stomach we headed out to go up the tower of St Peter’s Church where we would get a great view of the city. We also headed around to the Powder Tower and Arms museum and had a walk around some of the art-deco style streets and had a sit in the park.

We went to look at the Freedom monument, a potent symbol for Latvians who have had a horrible time at the hands of larger neighbours. Feeling incredibly tired from our walk around the city we went to the Riga Black Magic bar, where everything is Black Balsam based. I can recommend the cocktails and cake.

Going back into town in the evening we at a nice meal and a few beers before turning in for the night.

I will post more about Riga and my Birthday tomorrow.





Random Diary

17 05 2010
This is a bit of a catch up Blog, as I have been on Holiday and got lots to tell you, about all sorts of different things.  I am going to do it diary style.
 
Saturday 8th of May – Celebration of Steam at the Historic Dockyard.
 
H and I decided that we would go down to the Celebration of Steam, not sure what it would entail, but we had a great day.   Our £12 ticket, got us entry to HMS Warrior, which I had wanted to go on for ages, a Harbour tour on a

Traction Engine

boat, where we got to see part of the British Navy that is docked in Portsmouth.  As well as this there was a collection of traction engines and steam powered memorabelia including the world record holding fastest steam car in the world, which took the record by going nearly 150 mph.

 
There was also an Ale and Sausage Festival where we had a local tipple and an Ostrich burger.  Which I can say is very nice.
 
Monday 10th May – Natural History Museum – London
 
As we were flying to Riga Early on Tuesday we had decided to stay at Stanstead the night before which gave us the opportunity to go to London.

The Natural History Museum Dinosaur

  We had wanted to get to the Natural History Museum for ages and it didn’t disappoint.  It is spectacular but we could have done with having more time. 

 
After a swift meal in China Town we headed to Wimbledon to meet with May-Z who unfortunately wouldn’t be there for my birthday.  We had some great conversations about professional quiz-masters among others.
 
Tuesday 11th May – Riga
 
We flew to Riga from Stanstead on Ryan Air.  It was ok.  It was also my Dad’s birthday, so happy birthday to him.  I will write more about Riga in another Blog, but it was great fun.
 
Saturday 15th May- FA Cup Final
 
Pompey were in the FA Cup final, after a turbulent season with Relegation administration, numerous owners and players jumping ship, we had battled our way to Wembley. 
 
We defended brilliantly in the first half and were saved by the woodwork on 6 occasions and went in at half time 0-0.
 
Daring to dream in the second half, we had a penalty, which Kevin Prince Boateng scuffed and was saved, and then Didier Drogba scored the winner.  Not what the fairytale deserved.
 
Sunday 16th May – World Twenty-20 and Gigs.
 
Well done to England, World T-20 champions.  It was a brilliant final, with all parts of our team on fire.  Bowling was economical, Craig Kieswetter and KP were on fire, and we were finally steered home by Paul Collingwood and Eion Morgan with 3 overs to go, a huge margin in this form of the game.  To beat the Aussies was the icing on the cake.
 
As soon as this had finished I rushed out the door to go and see North Atlantic Oscilation at the Joiners. The Sarah Griffin Band were great, the Rebs were average and NAO were probably the best band that I had seen this year.
 
There you go, brief, but good.  I will catch you up on Riga later.