Thursday, October 28, 2010

Off to Riga We Go

For those of you who are geographically challenged, Riga is the capitol of Latvia. Latvia is in the Baltics, a former country of the Soviet Union. There was some concern last night due to the screw up with the incorrect LOT Airlines booking to Vilnius, Lithuania that when we arrived at the airport, they would say they canceled our correct flight to Riga. However, all went without a hitch. First to Warsaw, and then on to Riga after a plane change.  

There was a bit of a shock when I was preparing the currency cheat sheet. One euro is equal to .75 santīmi. There are 100 santīmi in one Latvian Lat. So the euro is not reigning king here. It takes over 1.33 euro to equal 1 Lat. That was not good news for our economic planning.  In addition, Riga was colder than expected, with weather reports showing only 2 degrees difference with Budapest. Yikes, the difference 2 degrees can make. It was raining too, making it feel even colder. 

On the bright news, they have a bus that dropped us off one block from our hotel for only 2 euros. Our hotel, the Old Riga Palace is in the old city, convenient for touring the old city, where Ron's research led him to believe we would want to stay. Others who have been here have said there is not much to see outside of the old city.
The room has a misnomer being called a 'double', usually meaning there is a double sized bed. However, the rest of the room could be called compact. There is barely room to walk past the foot of the bed to get to the other side where the desk is. Once there, room is barely sufficient for pulling out the chair to sit at it. 

Regardless of the rain, we self-toured the old city by first visiting the tourism office for orientation. I have learned to sit back and let Ron have at it. By the time he leaves, the tour person's head is spinning like in exorcist movie. He has enough questions in his parcel are enough to keep three staff members busy for hours. 

Where are all of the people? Sure, it may be cold and tourists are not flocking here, but where are the residents? The streets are empty. Yes, there are people in coffee shops, few, really few in restaurants, but on the street, no one.The architecture is amazing. The building that the tourism office is in is like something out of a fairytale. If I had remembered the cord to download pictures from my camera, I could show you now, but you will have to wait. It is worth waiting for.

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