First anniversary in Riga
After our slow train journey between Gdansk and Warsaw and the fact that our one month inter rail ticket ran out we decided to treat ourselves (as a first anniversary present to each other) to a flight between Warsaw and Riga in Latvia. This turned a 14 hour train journey into an hour and half flight. We were both pleased with our decision until Jenny saw the plane we were going on, and I discovered that Jenny is not a big fan of small propeller aircraft.
Once we were airborne, and she became used to the vibrations and stopped looking out the window at the propeller she was able to relax a little more.
When we arrived in Riga we were greeted with grey skies and a drop of about fifteen degrees in temperature, but we loved the city and had a fabulous few days. It probably helped that we were staying in by far the best accommodation we've had yet with a bedroom and living room bigger than the ones we have at home, and a corner sofa that we contemplated carrying away with us.
We spent the first day and a half wandering leisurely around the old and new towns enjoying the fantastic architecture, stopping for regular beers/coffee depending on the time of day. The city had a great relaxed feel to it. In the main square there was a fabulous market which sold many locally produced goods and food. We are now the proud owners of three handcrafted wooden spoons, these will obviously be sent home soon as they are not really a travel essential!
That evening we enjoyed the first of our 'anniversary meals' thanks to both sets of parents in a lovely, traditional old restaurant slightly off the beaten track. Some delicious main courses were rounded off with tasty traditional Latvian puddings - honey cake and bread soup (made with dried fruit).
On our anniversary we headed to Sigulda which is about an hours bus journey away. This had been described as the Switzerland of Latvia, though whoever said this has either never been to Switzerland or Sigulda. However, it was a good little place and it is the winter sports centre of Latvia. This was the reason for our visit.
We headed up to the Olympic Bobsleigh track where in summer you can go down the track on a four wheeled bobsleigh, getting up to speeds of 80kph. It was great fun and a memorable thing to do on our first anniversary. In a couple of weeks time they ice over the track then it is possible to go down in a proper bob sleigh, Jenny particularly is keen to come back and do this. This is despite her initial reservations all the way to Sigulda!
After recovering somewhat we headed out for some celebratory cocktails at the swanky bar on the 26th floor of a hotel for some fantastic views over the city. The delicious cocktails were made even better by the addition of the local tipple, Riga Black Basalm.
We enjoyed our 2nd anniversary meal at a friendly café/restaurant close to the hotel. More traditional Latvian fare was tried in the form of cold beetroot soup which was surprisingly tasty - and, no I didn't spill a single drop!! (see picture).
Next up is Talinn, with our first long haul coach journey…
Duct tape update as promised
Also useful for fixing split face wash tubes and for sealing birthday presents in makeshift wrapping…who needs sellotape??