Had I mentioned in my previous post that they have a Garlic restaurant in Rīga? Cause they do.
For starters, they have a garlic soup. As a main course, everything drowned in garlic. And for desert? Garlic ice cream. I kid you not. And apparently, it tastes really well, too. You only need not be a vampire, not have any relatives or friends (or partner) who mind the garlic stench that takes two weeks to fade.
Thursday morning started way too early, us having gone to bed by what? Morning. Right. Most of us were walking around on two -three hours sleep. Though everybody knew the day's schedule, so there was hardly anything they could grumble about.
We started out with the Laima Chocolate tour. I was under the impression (at the site) that we'd get a tour through Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. No such luck. It was fun though, and very interesting. Who knew that Laima started out as a factory of chocolate and.. socks?
And before they moved, the factory right next door was a tobacco factory?
That's something to think about, nay?
We ended our tour through the old factory neighbourhood in a Laima chocolate and sweets shop. Very strategic, if I may say so. I did a lot of souvenir buying there, if anywhere. ;D
We had a short "break" to get back to the hotel, and afterwards left for a visit to the Museum of Occupation. And I must say, Latvia's been properly harrassed since.. forever. Middle ages onwards, the Baltic States have basically been change (currency, like) for both Western Europe and the Soviet Union. "Oh, you don't need it? Really? It'll be a burden but, eh, we'll take it for a bit".. Or:
" I'll give you Belgium! =D... ""Uh.. +Hesitant+ " "I'll add some Baltic states? =D" "Oh... Alright"
The woman who gave us the tour was exceedingly enthousiastic (The person giving us the Chocolate tour was so as well. Two enthusiastic welcoming Latvians on one day? Shocking.) and brought the story very humorously. :) Even though it seriously was a crappy story. Poor Latvia.
An immitation of a Gulag.
Now try imagining fifty people sleeping on top of each other.
Mostly almost naked. Shivering. In temperatures of -30's.
Guess once who that silly guy is with the silly moustache?
That afternoon we went to the Redisson Blu hotel, and we got a tour and presentation about the hotel itself, before heading up to the famous Sky Line Bar. Some people had suggested doing that in the very beginning, for it being on the 26th floor gives one the perfect view for all over Latvia. I, however, thought it was a nice kind of "closure", seeing as most people were going home the next day. We had spent so much time in Rīga, we could point out some of the spots where we had been. So much fun.
This, sirs and ladies, is the presidential suite of Redisson Blu.
The outside of the SkyLine Bar. Again, at opening hours. (16.00)
Again. Ghost place.
The Panorama View from the SkyLine Bar.
We'd agreed that we'd end the week with a dinner all together at Rozengrals, a medieval themed restaurant, where waiters and waitresses dressed consistently serve you soup in stone chalices, and give you the bill in a wooden box with a crest.
The group had, however, heard that there was an ice hockey game to be played live, that same evening. Some wanted to go and see that, but not everyone was interested in that same activeness. Seeing as that dinner was going to be paid from the "budget", unlike most evenings, there was a certain.. hesitation about who was going to pay, and how. In the end, little Jessie got hold of the credit card and the password. Pretty neat, nay? I'm so reliable. It says so on my forehead +nodnod+
Everybody else gave me the same reaction when they found out : "Oh! Lets go shopping!"
When I'd heard that remark for the fifth time I responded with a "Yeah. That's why they gave /me/ the credit card." I know. I'm such a dull girl.
Rozengrals, Medieval Restaurant.
On the inside.
Part of the group. :3
Friday: No pictures.
Rather "slow" day, in comparison.
Big part of the group was packing, so I went with the only adults to the "shadier" part of Rīga: their "Black Market".. Bizarre place, really. Don't go there with cameras or in big groups. Don't look more out of place than necessary. Use your best Russian/Latvian.
I almost got sold a genuine kalashnikov. I just didn't have the money.
Nor do I think would Customs appreciate the thought.
Kelly, Everlina and I said goodbye to the rest of that group, and moved our stuff to our last accommodation of the week: Funky Hostel. Best place we'd had all week, although maybe that was because it was just the three of us. The two party animals actually hit the hay at 22.00, so I socialized and made friends with an American girl (Lindsay, sweet girl, awesome companion) and the Latvian Hostel manager (Freddie, enthusiastic about everything positive).
Note: Lindsay was doing this quick-tour-all-over-Europe. She'd already been to Germany and Lithuania, came to Latvia and was planning to go on to Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, and Holland before returning to Texas. (She's almost been to more countries than I have. Pfew. And I might have missed out on some.) Sadly I was kidnapped, drugged and performed surgery on on the day she was here in Holland. )= Otherwise I'd've gone to proudly tour her around or something. Lol. But yeah. My luck, huh? If I ever go to Chicago, though...!
Saturday started out slowly. We'd had a couple of long walks behind us and we were reloading. Kelly and Everlina wanted to check out a seven storey shopping mall, for which I excused myself immediately. I was not planning on spending an entire day shopping in Latvia. We've got shops in Holland, and I only go /there/ when I /need/ anything.
So I chartered Lindsay to go for some more culture sniffing *hah* (and more walking *sob*), which turned out to be a spiffing move on my part. We traded cameras, thus I could take plenty of pictures of her, and she plenty of lil ol'me. Good idea, if I say so myself.
We also (spontaneously, I might add) walked into the Museum of Latvian Art (all the way back to the middle ages?), which had an exposition on photography named "All around Latvia" (Hence the title, wink wink, nudge), of a photographer who had seriously been all around, and taken the pictures in Black and White, which inspired me to put my camera on that setting for the rest of the day. Lawl. Seriously brilliant. The two of us met up with Everlina and Kelly at the end of the afternoon. Mall turned out to be a serious failure. We had a drink together, and then scouted for a restaurant near the hostel.
Sitting there, playing all by himself. Poor guy.
Lindsay taking a picture of me taking a picture with her camera.
Totally had not noticed that. I look weird.
In the Museum.
The artist who made the biggest impression on me had his paintings in a "don't take photographs"room. Bugger.
Not sure why I liked this. The old man looked so sad.
I just laughed out loud at this.
Only one other creature will. Probably.
No offence though. I took the picture with love. :3
All Around Latvia.
Black and white Numero Uno.
Black and white Numero Dos.
Good food. Good place. Rather cute.
Our Hostel view.
Last day there was a Sunday. Last day we did anything, anyways.
We (Kelly, Everlina and I) went to Sigulda! :D Took the bus from Riga, and it brought us to Sigulda in roughly an hour. It was too warm for Latvian weather, I mean.. seriously.. I could've just gone to .. Italy or something. Pff.
Anyways. Sigulda's a little town based on forest, basically. With castle ruins, caves, churches and the like. Seeing as Everlina's got a fear of heights, we passed on the cable track ferries, and Kelly's got claustrophobia, so we also did not even try seeing the caves. We did have fun, though, and certainly made enough pictures to last us.. well, a long time of laughter.
Went back to Riga and found a burger (bah) place to eat something before heading back to the hostel and resting/freshening up a bit. Then we went to the Sky Line Bar for our "final goodbye" to Riga, Lindsay came along too! :) I even made a video of the panoramic lift going down. Notice Everlina's standing by the door a good way away from the glass. Poor girl. See through lifts are no good for fear of heights.
Central bus station at Riga.
Everlina taking my picture whilst I'm taking hers.
Two brilliant guards. Not too serious, though.
Snow in dah sun!
Sigulda at it's best.
Two churches in one picture. :)
A beautiful ruin.
Castle. With a British "ah".
My (virgin) Mojito in the Sky Line Bar.
Kept turning that song of the ad over and over in my head.
Tastes like something I had in Roastery (Egypt) years ago. :) - brought back memories.
Sky Line Bar -- and going down.
Last morning there, I'd packed and was ready, and went for one last quick walk around town with Lindsay whilst Kelly and Everlina got ready (showered and packed).
I finally found Riga's famous Cat's House. :) The one I'd bought a souvenir of days earlier.
That seriously made my trip complete.
If you've stuck with me this far, I take my hat off for you.
Of course, means you either skimmed or already are a faithful reader (in which case you are loved).
Updates on my current state in the next post. (Which will be soon. -as soon as I feel a bit better-Promise)