As soon as I got into the bus on the way to Riga’s old city, I was overtaken by a surge of relief and exhilaration. Thankfully, the atmosphere of city felt much friendlier and inviting than St. Petersburg and I couldn’t be more excited to unleash my unlimited reserves for adventure. What became vividly clear from my bus ride to the city center was the way that nature was woven through the neighbourhoods, caressing the buildings and creating a fairytale-like atmosphere that transported you back in time.
When we finally arrived to the heart of the old town I was amazed to find out that these touches of nature were consistent throughout the city, creating a delicate balance between the natural and the man-made that accentuated the city’s architecture instead of overshadowing it. The restaurants were all decorated with pots of colourful flowers, the plazas fashioned tall and elegant trees and the parks were impeccably adorned with all kinds of herbs and flowers that, combined with the grassy hills, rivers and bridges created a beautious aura that invited you to go down the rabbit hole and be Alice in Wonderland. I actually wandered around the park for about an hour taking it all in; perusing the roses, watching the boats go by and taking pictures.
My most favourite part of ‘Paris of the Baltic’, as Riga is usually referred to, is the architecture, which combines baroque, gothic, classicism and art nouveau like no other city; a true ‘memory theatre’ with every street having its own story to tell, the city being the embodiment of Latvia’s history. Walking through the winding cobbled streets I couldn’t help but feel elated for being enmeshed into the diverse aura of the city that epitomizes cosmopolitanism. A highlight of the day was my visit to St. John’s church, a Protestant church in the city center. As soon as I walked in I was overtaken by the melodic sounds of the organ that invited me to reflect on my day’s experiences and engage into a deep and relaxing meditation that took my day to a whole new level.
What was equally captivating about Riga were the people who were beautiful inside out. Friendly and all-smiling they were pleasant to be around, and the fact that they all spoke english made my day even more enjoyable and easy. Thankfully, the Latvians are also hit by the sexuality spell that was so prominent in Sweden, and combined with the vintage, sort-of primal personality of the city, it enthused my imagination – the cute bicycle-taxi boys are sure to haunt my dreams for weeks to come.
I never expected an ex-Soviet Union country to be as captivating and awe-inspiring as Riga and I’m certainly excited to have had the opportunity to endevour into new European territories and unearth such a fabulous treasure. By the end of the day I was engulfed by a feeling of deep appreciation for having spent such a beautiful day, but also a saddening for having to leave so soon. It’s a TTYVS Riga!! (Talk To You Very Soon. ;p)
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