The baltic viking Riga, Latvia


Don’t be stupid, P. Pack! Riga is the capital of Latvia, not Lithuania! Most importantly, it is also NOT part of Russia since 1991!
Let’s not make a history lesson out of our quarrel. But P. Pack, you should know that Latvia’s Daugava river was a very important trade route for the Vikings as well as for the German traders later.

Latvia is part of the Baltics, that also include Estonia and Lithuania in the northern part of mainland Europe. It is perfectly situated for a short trip that our owners enjoy doing so much. We packed quick – and only essential things – and hopped on a plane in direction Riga.

Arriving on Friday evening is always a pleasure for our owners, because the humans enjoy partying. However, lately, maybe because they’re getting old, the partying transformed to sitting in bars and drinking beers, wine, cocktails…actually anything 😉

If you want to learn more about the gusto life in Riga, please throw an eye on our “Gusto in Riga” post that you can find here.

Staying in Forums Boutique Hotel in old Riga was very convenient and relatively cheap (153 € for 2 nights).It was a good starting point for our exploration of Riga by foot. The first point of interest was the Riga Central Market on Saturday morning, which was very close by! One very interesting fact about it is that its 5 Art Deco pavilions have originally been German Zeppelin hangars! How cool is that?!

The visit of the market was a bit weird for us. As backpacks we are used to carry clothes, maps and sometimes a bottle of an alcoholic beverage. But this time we were stuffed with the famous Latvian dark rye bread, flowers and of course Riga black balsam (there we go…alcohol again…no surprise to us). It felt like our humans are preparing for a hiking trip!
When walking around, we were actually astonished of the smoked fish varieties this marketplace had to offer and we highly recommend to visit it.

The more you know:
Don’t be surprised to see fish still moving when presented on the shelves. It seems they take the word “fresh” very literal!

Our next stop was only 5 minutes away: the Latvian Academy of Science, which offers a nice observation deck. It was the first skyscraper built in Latvia and is also known as “Stalin’s birthday cake” because of its Stalinist architecture.

Riga science academy

Another 5 minutes foot walk was needed to get back to the old town, where we took a long stroll next to the “Pilsetas kanals”. We enjoyed the scenery and admired how green and calm Riga is. The Latvian National Opera which was originally constructed as Riga German Theatre in 1863 by Ludwig Baolinstedt marked the end of our relaxed walk.

Riga opera behind park

I do not know how you humans see that, but I and P. Pack find the mixture in culture and architecture, caught right in the middle between Russian and German influences, in Riga quite strange and compelling.

However, the hunger reminded our owners that the food is only in us, but not in their bellies! So we went on a hunt for real, local Latvian cuisine. We stopped at the restaurant “Province”, where we had tried a pea soup with smoked bacon served in a loaf of bread, Latvian black peas with smoked bacon and dumplings. Philipp could not resist another Mezpils, which after this trip became his favourite beer.

The afternoon was quickly approaching and since we are visiting Riga for two days only, we had to hurry to our next highlight on the agenda. The boat tour on Daugava river rook only 1 hour and was quite pleasant. Unfortunately, it was not as informative as we’d expect as tourists. There was literally NO information about anything! At least they could have played a recording that reads “The story of Riga” or something…

After this hour of sitting and enjoying the cold Latvian wind on board of the ship, evening has arrived. Well, at least our watches said so. It should be evening, but it was not getting dark! Why? In Latvia one can witness the white night in summer. This is a desirable weather feature if you are a tourist and you’re in a hurry to experience many things in a short time. However, living there…this might be a totally different thing…

So we were quite surprised , as the idea of our owners going in a pub came up, since it was not even dark yet! But we are one family and we stick with them in good and bad times 😉
Good backpacks as we are, we followed them to the “Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs”, where we could try more delicious beers and listen to traditional Latvian folk music.


Sunday has come, as the time flew, and we had to kick those lazy humans out of bed. We wanted to see the famous “Three brothers”, which is a building complex consisting of three houses. They belong to the 3rd generation of grandchildren and each of the houses is from a different period in time. Therefore the styles are similar, but still different.

front view 3 brothers
red building in Riga front view

Our time in Riga was coming to an end and we did not notice when exactly the last two day passed by. Enjoying Rigas old town and feeling its historic spirit, while seeing Latvias strong support for the Ukrainian fight against Putin’s Russia, was overwhelming, but in a wonderful and lovely way.

With this we say “Good Bye” to Riga and Latvia…but for just now 😉

N. Back & P. Pack

Backpack secrets revealed

  • boat tour on Daugava river ->, was pleasant, although not very educational. If booked online, it can be quite cheap: around 9 € per person

  • Do not hurry to buy the famous Riga Black Balsam – first go to the supermarket and go with a small bottle, like 100ml. You can always buy more, they have enough 😉 The taste of it is very specific and it’s for sure not everyone’s favourite drink.

  • Everything in Rigas old town is walkable and usually takes 5 minutes; wherever you want to go  5 minutes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts